Pool builder going strong during pandemic

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A Burks Brothers Pools & Spas employee performs a test on a water sample. (Heather Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With public pools just now being opened, many people had already taken it into their own hands to find ways to swim and cool down. Because of this, many areas report that their local pool builders have been overwhelmed by the sudden influx of orders for backyard pools. To see whether Cullman has the same issue, The Tribune reached out to Burks Brothers Pools & Spas to see how the pandemic has affected them and their customers.

Chad Burks of Burks Brothers said that this time of year is always overwhelming for his business, but the unprecedented COVID-19 circumstances have had a large impact on the retail aspect of his business.

“You’ve got a lot of people who maybe already have their own pools but haven’t opened them in a year or two, and they’re starting to open them up and clean them out for their families, their friends, their kids,” said Burks.

Because of this, the demand for pool maintenance has heavily increased, he said, sharing, “We have some people waiting until the beginning of next year for pool installations, but we usually stay so busy during the building season that this happens often.”

Burks said orders for in-ground pools have not increased too much beyond the usual, stating that his business usually works on digging four or five pools a month around this time. However, he said, he receives between 15-20 calls a day for above-ground pools. This has put a lot of pressure on the business because they have no pools to sell, and they will be unable to get any from their distributor for several months because the distributor is also out.

“We’re getting all these calls every day asking for an above-ground pool, and we don’t have any to sell them,” shared Burks. “We can’t even get any because the folks we get them from don’t have any.”

Overall, Burks said the pandemic has not drastically affected Burks Brothers.

“We open around the end of March, beginning of April – though we opened a little earlier this year because it got warm quicker – and we close in November because past it gets too wet and muddy to do any construction,” he said. So, we have a period of about three and a half months where we have no income, so the time we are open we’re just going non-stop.” 

Burks said because his business was declared essential at the start of the shutdown, it hasn’t lost out on too much income.

“You know, in subdivisions and neighborhoods where they’ve got a lot of pools – you see a lot more of these in places like Montgomery, but there are still some subdivisions here in Cullman – these places have to keep their pools sanitized to keep them from becoming mosquito beds. So pool supply stores like us have had to stay open to keep sanitizing these pools to avoid having mosquito bites and diseases on top of everything else,” he said. “Add in the fact that we do water testing here, too- not just commercial and private pools, but we can test tap water and we’ve even tested the City water once – and we’ve not had any issues with business being down.”

Note: The Tribune also reached out to Blue Dolphin and Burks & Son, but did not receive any comments.

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Heather Mann

heather@cullmantribune.com