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Meredith Holt, Published July 13 2013

Above-ground pools make a splash in F-M area

WEST FARGO – Vince Wuebker remembers when backyard pools were considered a luxury.

“Growing up, if you had a swimming pool, you were considered not only rich but in the elite category,” he says.

Ten years ago, Wuebker, who owns HotSpring Spas & Pool Tables here, sold maybe 10 above-ground pools a year.

For the past three years running, his store has sold 40 to 60 a year, with an eye on close to 100 this season.

“The breakthrough is happening. It’s the norm. It’s normal to have a pool in your backyard,” Wuebker says.

Although some in the pool industry scoff at Wal-Mart’s InTex above-ground pools, he says their introduction helped get the ball rolling.

“They’ve opened homeowners’ eyes to, ‘Hey, you know what? This whole pool thing is easier than we thought,’ ” he says.

Above-ground pools at Olson Pools & Spas in Hawley, Minn., run from $3,800 to $4,000, up to $10,000, compared to the in-ground range of $25,000 to $30,000.

Owner Steve Olson, who’s been in the business for 37 years, says the price points make above-ground pools more accessible to more people.

For a much lower price, homeowners can create their own backyard oasis.

Bryce Nelson always wanted a pool in his backyard but didn’t think it was in his budget.

Then he looked at his above-ground options with HotSpring Spas & Pool Tables.

Three years ago, the West Fargo man had a 17-by-29-foot Splash Superpool installed and an 8-foot deck built around it.

“It actually almost looks like a below-ground pool the way the deck is built,” he says.

Decks are just one way to incorporate pools into a home environment.

“Just because you’re doing an above-ground pool doesn’t mean it can’t be elegant,” Wuebker says.

Olson says they’ve come a long way in their design.

“It’s not like you’re just sticking a tank in your backyard anymore,” he says.

Olson’s gray or tan steel-sided pools are most popular because they blend in well with the look of a home.

And these aren’t flimsy kiddie pools.

Most types are strong enough to withstand winters in the area and can stay up year-round.

Olson’s soft-sides come in rectangle or round and are made with a reinforced three-ply polyester material. HotSprings’ Splash Superpools are made with a tough denier polyester and galvanized steel.

In fact, Wuebker says there’s a Splash pool in London the size of a football field that’s used for wind-surfing.

“There’s no other pool you could do that application with,” he says.

Both store owners say their above-ground pools are also easy to assemble.

“I can set one up in less than 20 minutes; a homeowner who’s never done it before in less than an hour can have water running in it,” Wuebker says.

Above-ground pools have a resell value in-grounds don’t.

“Ten years from now, you could take it with you or you could sell it,” he says.

Since it was added, the Nelsons’ pool has become the family’s main hangout.

They enjoy waking up with coffee poolside, cooking s’mores in a fire pit on the deck and watching their teenage son and daughter play.

“You know where your kids are at. I like it when a bunch of the kids are over. You can keep an eye on them,” Nelson says.

Olson hears that a lot from parents with pools.

When your kids and their friends are hanging out in your own backyard, it’s easier to keep an eye on what they’re doing.

“It’s kind of like our lake place, too. We’re home at 5 o’clock from work and we don’t have to drive anywhere,” Nelson says.

Wuebker, who’s been in the business for 24 years, has noticed that shift.

“It’s easier to own a pool than a lake place, and I think a lot of people are figuring that out,” he says.


• HotSpring Spas & Pool Tables: www.fargohotspring.com

• Olson Pools & Spas: www.olsonpoolsandspas.com

Installation, maintenance tips

• Set your pool on level ground.

• Till back the sod first for “virgin” ground.

• Keep the chlorine level up and “shock” it once a week.

• Vacuum once a week, which typically takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Source: Jamie Lewis, Olson Pools & Spas

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590