At California Pools & Landscape, we’ve been building dream backyards in the valley of the sun for more than 32 years. Over that time, we’ve continued to refine our quality building practices and maintain relationships with our stellar trade partners and vendors. Our commitment to delivering a high quality project as quickly and efficiently as possible has always been a driving force at CPL.
As material shortages continue to plague the construction industry and the demand for swimming pools continues to rise, building times are longer than we’ve seen in our history. Due to these delays and our consistent commitment of transparency to our valued customers, we strive to communicate project details more than ever before. Our ‘Diving Into The Details’ series will take you behind the curtain at CPL, to get an inside look at how we are navigating these unchartered waters.
In this installment of Diving Into The Details, CPL’s Founder Mike Smith explains how the PVC shortage and specifically the CPVC resin has affected the production of pool water valves.
As we dive into the details a bit to try to keep our clients up to date on pool construction in 2021, we must talk about PVC. Just about everything that makes a pool work, pipe, fittings, valves… is made of PVC or Poly Vinyl Chloride.
The Texas deep freeze that struck February 10th-27th, 2021 put a tremendous strain on already stressed available supplies of PVC products. Covid-19 had already impacted production due to limited shifts while simultaneously creating a demand boom for home improvement and similar products. Then the freeze totally shut down production, with many manufacturing plants only now coming back on line fully. As a result, PVC pipe and component pieces pricing skyrocketed, in some instances now as much as 75% from the first of the year.
But, diving deeper, the pool industry and even more specifically, Arizona’s pool industry is now experiencing an even bigger impact. CPVC is Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride. It works in temperatures up to 200 degrees while PVC can withstand temperatures up to 140 degrees. While the resin industry geared up this spring to fulfill orders for the more broadly used PVC, they diverted production of CPVC resins. The products made specifically for Arizona’s high temperatures have fallen even further behind in production while the increased demand has not ceased.
You might ask, why do you need protection to 200 degrees? When we build pools, piping, valves, equipment is pressurized to 40 PSI using water inside the pipes. This is so we know if there is a leak during construction. This, of course, is critical. That water, inside those pipes, bakes in our sun and often reaches temperatures far in excess of 140 degrees. PVC parts melt, warp, and leak. CPVC parts do not.
Let’s dive even deeper. The resins are now generally available, albeit at about double the price. All valve and part manufacturers use plants in China to mold the resin into the parts that we use. Our manufacturing partners have air freighted the resin to China to be molded. Then they are shipped to the US for assembly.
No one can predict how long those parts will take to get to the US because there is also a world wide shortage of shipping containers, available ships, and more. Plus, there is a limit to how many and which ships US harbors will unload.
Our Commitment To CPL Clients
At California Pools & Landscape, we saw a lot of this developing and due to our friends in the industry we have managed to secure as much material as possible. For months we’ve been notified weekly about what piece of equipment is going to be out of stock soon and we work to source it. We pay any price, bear any freight cost. Often we commit to air freight and other solutions. Our industry partners support our efforts because we have supported them.
But, as big as we are, we are a small player in this global supply and demand process. Names like Honda, Toyota, Walmart, and other larger companies are compromised as well. Everyone needs just a bit more resin than is available and there is huge competition to get it.
We have a back up plan. Many of you that we are building a pool for may see your pool built with no equipment in the backyard. This is called a delayed equipment set. We keep pools moving any way we can. It costs more to come out and install the equipment at the end of the pool construction, rather than at plumbing which is normal, but no California Pools & Landscape customer will pay extra. We will bear the cost. We think you are worth it, our customers.
We cannot promise definitive timelines because no one knows how long it might take to resupply inventories and get back to some sort of normal. However, we do not think we will see pools that do not have all necessary equipment when they are ready to fill with water. We cannot commit to time lines with any accuracy, but we will commit to this; We will always do our best and we will always try to keep you informed.
Every day we go home tired and frankly, a bit beat up by the challenges we face in trying to serve our customers. What keeps us going though is knowing that our customers, their families and friends are gracing us with amazing patience and understanding as we work through all of the challenges. We are so grateful to our trade partners and our clients. We are in this together and doing our best every day.