Concord Pools and Spas this year celebrates
its 40th year in business.
Saratoga native Mike Giovanone, founder
and president, refers to his staff as family
members and credits them, in large part, for
the success of the swimming pool-building
company, which averages construction of approximately
175 pools annually throughout
upstate New York.
Headquartered on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, Concord Pools and Spas boasts four Capital District locations, including showrooms in Latham, Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls. The company has earned numerous awards, locally and nationally, for its high construction standards and innovative technology.
Concord Pools and Spas revolutionized the local swimming pool industry as an innovator of radiant in-floor pool heating and is a shared patent holder of the famous I-Brace, recognized as the strongest and most technologically advanced wall and deck support in the industry, according to Concord.
In 1988, Giovanone worked closely with Latham International, formerly known as Pacific Pools, to create a strong pool wall brace suited to withstand the extreme temperature fluctuations in the Northeast. Giovanone is serving his 13th year of two-year terms as chairman of the Dealers Committee of Latham Pool Products, reportedly in business for six decades and the largest package pool manufacturer in North America.
The local Latham-based business serves a three-state territory and represents a membership of 1,200 dealers nationwide, he said.
“We knew the industry needed a better brace for swimming pools in this climate,” Giovanone said. “We brought in engineers from G.E. Plastics, the Plastics Institute of America and other experts from other industries for their input. The I-beam brace, which is recognized as the strongest swimming pool brace in the industry, was invented in the Concord Pools conference room.”
Engineers were asked to create a formula for a support structure polymer resin that could withstand temperatures from 50 degrees below zero to 100 degrees Fahrenheit – something the traditional steel brace could not do, Giovanone said. Birth of the I-beam brace made it possible for construction of swimming pools touting structural support systems not unlike those used on bridges.
According to Giovanone, the I-beam brace takes the load off the walls and redistributes it on the shoulders of a series of I-beam braces, which surround the perimeter of the pool. Each I-beam brace is attached in six places up and down the height of the wall. Then the I-beam is filled with solid concrete, making it an integral component of a one-piece foundation system. Virtually no weight rests on the pool walls, he said. The live load is evenly distributed over the entire support from braces to concrete footings, as in bridge construction. It is a breakthrough technique that yields 4,000 pounds or more of support. To build the I-beam brace, Giovanone had to bring online an injection mold machine with a $10 million price tag and he believes the investment was worthwhile.
“Since we’ve developed this technology, we’ve used it in tens of thousands of swimming pools that we’ve built,” he said, noting Concord Pools and Spas’ construction record of more than 11,000 swimming pools in the Capital District alone. “Sixty-five to 70 percent of the market share of custom in-ground pools in the Capital District has been built by us.”
Building a pool with the I-beam brace adds up to $1,500 to the overall cost of its construction and years to the life of a swimming pool. About 85 percent of the pools we build are built with the I-beam brace,” Giovanone said. “If we know there is a ground condition calling for it, we will do anything possible to get it on that pool. We will tweak the whole project so that we can make adding the I-beam brace an affordable option.”
Giovanone, 58, first got his feet wet in the swimming pool business working during summer vacations while attending Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady. He became a full-time employee of Carmen-Goody Imperial Pools in Colonie in 1971, and eventually bought Concord Pools in 1979.
“Concord was a small service company back then,” Giovanone recalled. “In 1979 I purchased the company and we built 30 in-ground pools that year. I assembled a team of young professionals and in 1980 – our first full year in business – we built 160 pools.”
In 1988, Concord Pools and Spas sold a record number of 488 pools. Though that annual sales total hasn’t been matched since, Giovanone is not discouraged.
“We don’t measure success by the number of pools we sell,” he said. “We measure success by the number of satisfied customers we serve. We are all about providing excellent customer service. Every single person who works for Concord will not rest at night if even one customer is experiencing a problem with their pool.”
The personal service Giovanone is so passionate about doesn’t end after the sale. He frequently makes site visits during the construction phase and routinely drops in after the pool is installed to catch up with his customers – all in an effort to ensure their swimming pool or spa is meeting their expectations in every possible way. It’s not at all uncommon to see Giovanone, who oversees a staff of 160 full time employees during peak seasons, sweeping up at the construction site of a new swimming pool. No task is beneath him. And the same is expected of his staff.
Recently, the industry’s leading trade publication, Pool and Spa News, named Concord Pools and Spas the “Number 3 Swimming Pool Company in the U.S.” and singled out Giovanone for the sixth time as recipient of its Masters of Design Award, awarded annually.
Additionally, Concord Pools and Spas’ vinyl liner pool design earned it the Gold Medal Design of Excellence Award by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (ASPS) both nationally and internationally.
Giovanone is an educational instructor for the international APSP and regularly travels throughout the U.S. and several off-shore sites lecturing on the radiant in-floor heating system and construction process. But it is his triumphs closer to home that he most enjoys talking about. The longevity of his staff is a source of much pride for Giovanone.
“We are a close-knit family,” he said. “A lot of people I hired as kids. Now we employ their kids. I have eight senior management professionals working with me who have been here more than 30 years and several staff members who have been here for more than 20 years.”
Photo Courtesy Of Concord Pools ans Spas