POOL AND WATER SAFETY FOR THE LITTLEST AMONG US

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July 3, 2015

Since our founding almost 60 years ago, Easton Pool & Spa – in working with customers and potential customers – has placed a primary emphasis on safely enjoying and recreating in and around pools.

An in-ground pool … a pool of any type … can be the physical source and center of a tremendous amount of fun, joy, and happiness. Families and communities grow and become stronger around pools.

And this all happens when people using a pool care and are informed on how to safely enjoy – and responsibly act in accordance with this understanding – a pool.

Yet the fact is … and there should be no blinking at this reality, nor avoiding discussing it … ongoing, and every year, a tremendously high number of injuries and deaths result just from fundamental and basic rules of pool safety not being practiced and observed.

Here is a link to the start page – at the American Red Cross website – of a valuable tutorial on home pool, swimming, and water safety.

Easton Pool & Spa especially urges and promotes children learning to become accustomed to water, and to learn to swim, as early as possible. If you click here you will be taken to a story about teaching your children to swim, which was published inParents Magazine, and written by Kourtney Edam.

As described in the story, the “American Association of Pediatrics recommends that parents hold off on formal swimming lessons until after their child’s fourth birthday, when he’s developmentally able to learn the skills needed to stay afloat. Until then, consider a parent-child program that focuses on water games, swimming-readiness skills, and safety in and around the pool.”

Yes, teaching the “littlest among us” pool and water safety is of the most vital importance.

Consider this selection of relevant information and statistics from the National Safety Council:

  • There are over 7,000 drowning deaths nationally each year. Drowning accidents are the leading cause of death and injury of children under 5 years of age.
  • Drowning is the second leading cause of injury he second leading cause of injury-related death among children under the age of 15. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • More than 80% of the drownings occur in residential pools or spas.
  • Each year 5000 children under the age of 14 are hospitalized for near drowning events. Of these, as many as of 20% suffer severe and permanent disabilities.
  • Nationwide, about 250 children under the age of 5 drown each year. Most of those incidents occur in backyard pools and studies have shown that usually an adult was nearby, but not watching the child when they fell in the pool.

Young people, all people, need to know that becoming incapacitated in water can happen fast … very fast … within a few seconds … and death by drowning can occur in as few as 30 seconds.

Children need to hold a healthy respect for … and understanding of … the perils of water.

This respect and understanding need not diminish any of the fun.

Pools are the business of Easton Pool & Spa … and constitute so much of the lives of all those who work for the company.

Where great backyards begin” is our mantra.

Great backyards. Great times. Great memories.

That’s what home pools should be all about – and that is what they are all about … when safety is practiced first and held paramount.

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EASTON POOL & SPA PROVIDES A TOUR OF DISTINCTIVE AND UNUSUAL POOLS

Swimmer near the edge of Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls, ZAMBIA (photo credit: Slaate)
Swimmer near the edge of Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, ZAMBIA (photo credit: Slaate)

Easton Pool & Spa has achieved high and widespread distinction for excellence in pool design, building, and servicing of pools.

Always family owned, Easton Pool & Spa has been in business for close to 60 years.

Yes, that’s right, the Hobaica family has been installing pools since 1958.

For both 2013 and 2014, Pool & Spa News, the acclaimed industry trade publication, named Easton Pool & Spa as one of the nation’s “Top 50 Pool Builders.”

Among the many values and advantages that Easton Pool & Spa provides and delivers is the capability to plan and create pools with innovative and distinctive shapes and features.

Roman Pool at Hearst Castle (photo credit: Hearst Castle)
Roman Pool at Hearst Castle (photo credit: Hearst Castle)

Our staff always practices its profession with imagination and passion – and, over and over, and time and time again, we successfully respond to the imagination, ideas, and hopes of our customers.

If you click here you will be taken to a recent post, on this blog, in which we discuss how Easton Pool & Spa met the challenge of building a pool to the specifications of one of the world’s preeminent architects.

In keeping with the theme of innovative and distinctive, in today’s post, Easton Pool & Spa looks at some of the more unusual and interesting pools that can be found around the globe.

How about the Devil’s Swimming Pool at Victoria Falls in Zambia?   Nature made this pool; indeed, Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  The Devil’s Swimming Pool is an infinity pool … with the water overflow dropping 100 meters to the rocks below.

Please click here to be taken to a video of girls playing it … literally … close to the edge at the Devil’s Swimming Pool.

There are few pools that more bespeak grandeur, opulence, and high society than the Neptune Pool and Roman Pool at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA.

The Neptune Pool, which took 12 years to build, and was completed in 1937, and the Roman Pool (constructed from 1927 through 1934), are styled on the architecture of the pools and baths of ancient Rome at its zenith.

The Badeschiff (German for the English “bathing ship”) is a floating pool, located in a harbor in the River Spree in Berlin.  The pool was fashioned from the hull of a ship.

While not, necessarily, that unusual … well, wait, we take that back, this pool is unusual … the pool with swim-up bar at Hotel Grace in Times Square affords an opportunity (located about 180 miles from where Easton Pool & Spa is located) to hang out and relax with beautiful people of the “thee” metropolis.

(Just a note – at present, because of renovations, the Hotel Grace pool is open, but not the bar.)

Here is a link to a Travel Channel video that features the Hotel Grace pool (a short advertisement precedes the video, but the wait is worth it).

This is just a sampling of extraordinary pools out there – including those that Easton Pool & Spa has designed and constructed.

In the future, here, we will present and discuss more pools of the “WOW” variety.

EASTON POOL & SPA VALUES – AND GIVES BACK TO – COMMUNITY

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June 9, 2015

For the Hobaica family and the Easton Pool & Spa team, running and operating the business goes way beyond business – way beyond dollars and cents.

Easton Pool & Spa believes in being strongly engaged in the community – and in giving back. We act on this belief and notion.

In the following excerpt from his memoir and business treatise, A Rake, A Shovel, and A Used Pickup Truck: Building A Successful Family Pool Business, Easton Pool & Spa founder, Henry Hobaica, today advisor emeritus to the company, expounds on community – and the regard and gratitude Easton Pool & Spa has for it, and how we reciprocate:

Easton Pool & Spa benefits greatly from community – for most of our sales and business are still generated through word-of-mouth. As often happens, a couple buys a pool from us and their family enjoys it. Then, they have people over and the guests enjoy it. These guests start thinking about buying a pool. Easton Pool & Spa is recommended to them, and we receive a call.

Through hundreds of venues, in schools, youth sports, drama clubs, civic organizations, at the gym … you name it – people in these venues talk about Easton Pool & Spa.

The community is our greatest marketing and selling tool for Easton Pool & Spa.

The community buys from Easton Pool & Spa ….

David [Henry’s son], as president of the company, steers most of the Easton Pool & Spa charitable donations and civic support activities. For ten years, Easton Pool & Spa ran golf tournaments, benefiting worthy causes in southeastern Massachusetts. Easton Pool & Spa sponsors, supports and donates funds to youth tournaments. Easton Pool & Spa focuses a majority of its charitable contributions to youth sports and knowing, it is appropriate and achievable to ‘do well, by doing good things.’ After all, is there any more persistent and enthusiastic a pool sales person than a kid?”

So, you see, the support relationship between Easton Pool & Spa and the community is a two way street.

And, absolutely, Easton Pool & Spa fully intends and is fully dedicated to always being involved in the local community – and in giving to and supporting those people and causes that benefit society.

EASTON POOL & SPA CATCHES UP WITH OLYMPIC SWIMMING GOLD MEDALIST ERIC VENDT – AN EASTON KID WHO USED TO SWIM IN A POOL WE BUILT. YES HE DID

(image credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
(image credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

May 30, 2015

Erik Vendt is among the most accomplished swimmers in U.S. history. He won an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing as a member of the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay team – and silver medals in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Vendt is the former U.S. record holder in the 1,500 meter freestyle event with a time 14:59.11, a performance that made him the first American to break 15 minutes at this distance. Swimming for the University of Southern California, among Vendt’s many accomplishments were winning five NCAA titles, being named All American 15 times, and winning seven PAC-10 titles. In 2002, Vendt was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year.

Of this it is fairly certain – Erik Vendt knows something about pools – particularly the in-ground variety. As well, Erik Vendt is a native of North Easton. Easton Pool & Spa finds it wholly and mostly appropriate – and is honored – to feature Erik Vendt on our blog.

Vendt is the son of Bill and Kathy Vendt, who now live on Cape Cod.  Bill Vendt is an Oliver Ames High School grad. Erik Vendt has an older sister, Allison, also an accomplished swimmer, who attended Oliver Ames before transferring to the Peddie School from which she graduated.  Allison went on to the University of Notre Dame where she was a standout swimmer for the Fighting Irish.

As Erik Vendt achieved national ranking in youth swimming, he continued to attend Easton Schools.  However, following finishing 8th grade at Easton Junior High School, and in that at the time OA did not have a swimming program, he transferred to Boston College High School, which had swimming team with a distinguished record. (Remembering his days in the Easton school system, Vendt mentions that he ran in the Muscato mile, an event that the Easton Junior High School holds every year for boys and girls in the school’s 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.   With a bit of prodding, Vendt reveals that in 7th and 8th grade he finished second in the event, both times to future prep national champion middle distance runner Andy Powell, today a member of the Oliver Ames High School Athletic Hall of Fame.)

At BC High, Vendt won numerous state titles, and as a senior set a state 500-yard freestyle record that remains unbroken.  He graduated from BC High in 1999. Easton Pool & Spa caught up with Erik on the phone earlier this week.

“I have only been back in the area for less than a year – and am now living and working in South Boston,” said Erik.  “I love the Boston area, and it is great to be back here – and close to my family.”

Erik, who is single, explained that after he retired from competitive swimming in 2008, he entered the world of investment banking, and held positions with firms in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and, most recently, prior to returning to Boston, Los Angeles.

“I gained great experience, and I enjoyed the challenging environment, and did well,” said Erik.  “But the sector was not really my passion – and I decided to seek out opportunities with groups that were doing work that were my passion.”

And this brought Erik to South Boston and the start-up company WHOOP (which opened its doors four months ago).

WHOOP is a designer and manufacturer of a wearable device, a system, actually, that, as WHOOP describes, is, “… robust enough to prepare a Navy SEAL for battle, but with the form factor and design that the average athlete would be comfortable wearing 24 hours a day … ”

Erik works in business development for WHOOP.

“WHOOP is precisely the type of company for which I was looking.  And its people are extraordinarily smart and dedicated, and highly enthusiastic about their work.  WHOOP has a great culture, all around.”

Erik remains active, swimming, daily; he also does CrossFit training, and covers a lot of miles bicycling. He fondly remembers Easton, and remains close with friends he grew up with in the town.

And, as Easton Pool & Spa learned, the family of one of his Easton pals, Jay Barry, had an in-ground pool behind their home on Summer Street in which he used to swim – and hang ouut around – from time to time. (The Barry family has been a long-standing customer and friend of Easton Pool &  Spa.)

“I didn’t do any serious training in the pool – but, yeah, I used it.  I had a lot of fun over there.”

And which company built that pool?  Yes, that would be Easton Pool & Spa. A young man on his way to Olympic glory swimming in a pool we built. You didn’t think we were going to keep that bit of history a secret – did you?

MEMORIAL DAY IS THE UNOFFICIAL START TO SUMMER … WHICH INCLUDES POOL OPENINGS. YET WE SHOULD BE EVER MINDFUL OF THE TRUEST AND MOST IMPORTANT MEANING OF MEMORIAL DAY …. HOW THE DAY COMMEMORATES AND HONORS SACRIFICE – SACRIFICE WITHOUT WHICH THE FUN ASSOCIATED WITH AN IN-GROUND POOL … AND COUNTLESS OTHER ACTIVITIES THAT PROVIDE US HAPPINESS AND ENJOYMENT – AND THAT TOO MANY OF US TAKE FOR GRANTED – WOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE

 U.S. Lance Cpl. Isaiah Schultz with Afghan children in 2011 (image credit: U.S. Marine  Corps/Cpl.  Reece Lodder)

U.S. Lance Cpl. Isaiah Schultz with Afghan children in 2011 (image credit: U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Reece Lodder)

May 29, 2015

So … here we are … post Memorial Day 2015. Summer has unofficially begun – with the actual date this year being June 21st, which is also the date of the summer solstice this year – the longest day of the year.

Memorial Day Weekend has long been associated with pool openings and the first cookouts of the season. Many living in these parts – where Easton Pool & Spa is headquartered – make their first trip to the seashore on Memorial Day Weekend … or open up their summer cottages for the season on this weekend.

For sure, Memorial Day historically commences a busy time for Easton Pool & Spa.

All too often … and for far too many of us … Memorial Day is not nearly closely identified with … nor associated with … that with which it should most closely be identified, and that with which it should be most closely be associated: the remembrance and honoring of those who gave all in defense of our nation, and the preservation of our republic.

Easton Pool & Spa has a marketing slogan – and identifier: “Where great backyards begin!”

We are a most fortunate nation – one in which great backyards … safe backyards … havens free from fear … are taken for granted. We don’t even think about it.

Yet, of course, there are wide stretches of territory around the globe where terror and horror and warfare predominate. Carefree recreation and fun and comfortable socializing are only the stuff of the happiest and most distant of dreams.

Laughing and sitting around an in-ground pool? Swimming or wading in an in-ground pool. Cooking out and eating next to the pool? Reclining on a float in an in-ground pool?

Now, all of that is just sheer fantasy, never to be known or experienced. It is all something that happens in another place.

A place like the United States of America.

Fundamental to … and that on which our freedom and ability to exercise our natural rights depend … are those men and women who died while protecting and fighting for us.

All those who wore and wear the uniform of our armed forces secure and enforce the safety and preservation of our great nation.

Henry Hobaica, founder of Easton Pool & Spa, and still a valued advisor to the company, is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having served honorably with the U.S. Air Force.

It is good to luxuriate in the happiness so easily available to us in America – which includes all the fun in and around the pool.

It is also vitally important to the maintenance of America that we be ever mindful and show appreciation for who those died – and those who served – to ensure our happiness and our way of life.

BEYOND THE CLASSIC AND TRADITIONAL RECTANGLE POOL; EASTON POOL & SPA DESIGNS AND BUILDS CUSTOM, BEAUTIFUL, AND ORNATE

Custom Pool with Retractable Wood Deck, on Martha's Vineyard; built for world famous architect by Easton Poo & Spa
Custom Pool with Retractable Wood Deck, on Martha’s Vineyard; built for world famous architect by Easton Pool & Spa

May 14, 2015

The early days … and early years … of Easton Pool & Spa were dedicated to building, exclusively, rectangle pools with sloping bottoms. Almost all these pools were one of three dimensions: 16′ x 32′, 18′ x 36′, or 20′ x 40′.

These pools were the figurative and literal foundation of our business. They remain a major component of our business. We remain busy building them.

Yet, of course, Easton Pool & Spa is also renown for – and indeed this area of our business is growing rapidly – designing and constructing pools with special features and custom shapes (yes, we did build a pool in the shape of a cactus) – and which may include a cabana, adjoining spa, waterfall, fine wood deck, stone patio, fire pit … among other elements.

Easton Pool & Spa enjoys a challenge – and we work with leading architects and designers to help realize dreams and realize a vision.

Indeed, back in 2013, we were tasked with a major challenge – in that one of the foremost and esteemed and award-winning building architects in the world contracted with Easton Pool & Spa to build his dream pool on his estate in Martha’s Vineyard.

It was teamwork – the planning and building of this pool – with the architect and the Easton Pool & Spa team exchanging ideas, talking, listening, and reviewing together.   

Early construction phase of custom 25' x 60' pool with deck, on Martha'Vineyard; built by Easton Pool & Spa
Early construction phase of custom 25′ x 60′ pool with deck, on Martha’Vineyard; built by Easton Pool & Spa

What resulted was a rectangle shaped pool – but not just any rectangle shaped pool.

It was a 25′ x 60′ overflow pool (the type of pool in which water gently cascades over an edge or multiple edges of the pool and then is circulated back into the pool) in which there was a seam – less than an inch in width – between the edge over and into which the water flowed and an adjoining wood deck.

Because this seam was so narrow – unlike the seam of four to six inches in width which separates most overflow pools from decks and patios – throughout the pool the surface of the water could not deviate in height more than an eighth-of-an-inch from the surface in any other part of the pool.

We also created for the architect a special wood deck that would cover the pool when it was not in use, and would disguise that a pool was beneath it – and, when the pool was in use, or to be viewed, would be contained within an underground receptacle, with the receptacle fully hidden.

First we created a folding deck – and then we worked with a steel fabricator which designed and built for the deck a folding aluminum chassis. The fabricator engineered an system of motorized pistons that rolled out the deck into place over the pool, and which retracted the deck into the below-ground bunker.

Easton Pool & Spa was also enlisted by the architect to accentuate the pool with custom lighting – with the lighting fixtures needing to have just the right look, and with the bulbs delivering a subtle and a precise element of illumination.

We met the lighting challenge as well.

When the pool was finished and ready for use, its owner – again, among the most gifted designers and building artisans on the planet – declared that what Easton Pool & Spa had delivered was extraordinary excellence and the highest premium in quality.

SPOTLIGHT ON ROBERT HOBAICA – VICE PRESIDENT OF EASTON POOL & SPA … AND OUR “CONSTRUCTION GUY”

Robert Hobaica and dad, Henry, founder of Easton Pool & Spa; in 2013
Robert Hobaica and dad, Henry, founder of Easton Pool & Spa; in 2013

May 7, 2015

With our roots going back to 1958 – close to 60 years ago – Easton Pool & Spa has experienced and adopted many new materials and technologies and systems to build our pools – and to receive national recognition and awards for the quality and excellence we deliver.

For sure, we have become a lot more sophisticated in our methods than when our founder Henry Hobaica launched the enterprise with an inventory of tools that consisted of no more than a rake, a shovel, and a used pickup truck.

Indeed, A Rake, a Shovel and A Used Pickup Truck is the name of the book that Henry authored on his and the Hobaica family history and experience in the pool building business.

But still … even with all the advances … pool construction is never on autopilot.

Every pool we build requires manual labor – whether it is a concrete pool with a vinyl liner, which necessitates highly demanding labor … or whether it is a pool formed from gunite, a substance of sand, cement, and water sprayed through a pneumatic tube … which is also a process involving physical labor, if not as intense as when working with concrete and vinyl.

There is no better person to testify to this than Robert Hobaica, Vice President and co-owner of Easton Pool & Spa. Robert heads up and focuses on the on-site construction end of things.  

Easton Pool & Spa pool, with attached pool, under construction – 2013
Easton Pool & Spa pool, with attached spa, under construction – 2013

I actually started building pools back in high school – back in 1980,” said Robert. “I was involved in a work study program at Oliver Ames High School, in which I got out of school at noon and would go to work helping out my dad.”

Robert graduated from Oliver Ames High School in 1982, and went on to Framingham State College from which he graduated in 1986.

While on break from college, during the late spring and early summer, he worked full time for the family business.

Robert was always directly involved in the digging and excavating and grading and leveling of ground, and the pouring of concrete, to make the foundation of the pool.

Excavating and pouring concrete was and remains very labor intensive – more so than working with gunite,” said Robert, who, himself, operates excavating equipment on Easton Pool & Spa jobs.

You know, I think back to a day in the mid 1990s – at a time when we hired from a reliable employment firm in Brockton many hardworking day laborers.

But it didn’t always work out. Like that day – when we hired two laborers who helped us pour concrete for a pool in Hanover. Well we got done with that job around noon – and then headed to Mansfield to pour another pool.

And, you know, I am driving this big truck, and I have two of these laborers – whom I had not worked with before – sitting in the cab with me. So we are in Brockton, and we stop at a stoplight on Legion Parkway … and one of these guys opens the passenger side door, and both of the guys jump out and run off; they just took off. I guess they had enough of pouring concrete.”

In 2010, Easton Pool & Spa added gunite pools to its inventory of offerings.

“Of the pools we build, the split is about 75 percent concrete, and 25 percent gunite,”  said Robert. “Right now, Easton Pool & Spa has 30 pools under construction across eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands, with nine being built on Martha’s Vineyard alone.”

Through the years, Robert Hobaica has been a lead innovator for Easton Pool & Spa.

It was in 2001, that he advised and pushed for the company to drill for its own water to fill the pools we build. This initiative has resulted in the highly successful Atlantic Pool Water Services, Inc., the leading provider of pool water in southeastern Massachusetts.

Robert will often stay and work on site with one job from start to completion – yet he also will travel across many sites to inspect and monitor construction.

He remains focused and motivated.

I’ve been with Easton Pool & Spa a long time, and I continue to be energized to do my best, and help the people with whom I work do their best, every day and in every pool we build.

I am fortunate to do this work – and to receive a tremendous amount of satisfaction and fulfillment from it.”