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Biolab Fire Expected to Cause Pool Chlorine Price Increase

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The boost in residential pool sales and service is welcome but unexpected. Having pool stores, service companies, and builders declared ‘Essential’ in all states took quite a bit of work, but we (A collaboration of trade associations, Facebook groups, and countless individuals) tackled legislation and set them straight. When it looked like the pool industry might make it through 2020 unscathed, the unthinkable happens. A pool chlorine fire at Biolab.

Similar article: Sample Pool Service Price Increase Letter – Due to Chlorine Shortage

Hurricane Laura came barreling into Westlake Louisiana as a Cat 4, tearing down trees, buildings, and power lines. The BioLab factory, although evacuated, did not stand a chance. At some time during the storm, the factory housing over 800 tons (Reuters) of trichlor (trichloro-s-triazinetrione) began to burn.

BioLab, owned by Canadian-based KIK Corporation, produces the lion’s share of Chlorine Tablets (trichlor) used for swimming pool care in the United States.

Pool supply distributors have in stock what they have in inventory and for quantity, on hand, the pricing has remained unchanged. However, news of the destruction of a significant portion of the countries supply has spread quickly, sending pool service companies scrambling to stock up on all that they can. There are reports that some distribution centers have begun to enforce quantity limits as low as a two bucket maximum.

KIK products include Clorox (pool & spa products), BioGaurd, Prestone, and Comet

Luckily this has occurred at the end of the swimming season for most, with pool closings in many areas beginning as early as mi-August. This is little comfort for those in areas with a year-round season (California, Southwest, and Southeast).

Rumors of impending price increases are running rampant across social media, with some suggesting hikes of up to twenty-five to thirty percent on wholesale cost. If this occurs, companies will have no choice but to account for that difference in the service fee to homeowners that they charge, and rightfully so. I can’t imagine this will be well received.

In 2004 a pool chlorine fire broke out at the BioLab warehouse in Conyers, GA

Could pool service companies face outages and restrictions on chlorine tablet purchases similar to the toilet paper limits the nation faced in early March? I certainly hope not. When is this massive price increase expected to begin? Word on the street it could occur as soon as today.

Personally, for everyone’s sake, I pray the impact on our livelihood is far less than folks are predicting. We are all in this together and don’t want to see anyone’s business take a hit. Please let us know in the comments below what you see out there.

random fire fighter photo

Let’s Just Hope the Impact of the Fire on Cost is Just a Vicious Rumor

NOTE: I do currently have a request for a statement with Pool Corp’s & KIK Custom Products PR departments regarding a potential increase in price due to shortage. I will update this article as I receive responses from each.

The local distribution center that I had always used had this to say ‘No news as of this morning. Prices are still the same. We have not heard anything about increasing prices yet from our corporate office’.

  • Are you limited to the amounts you can purchase?
  • Have you had a massive jump in cost?
  • Have you run into a distributor that out of stock?

Godspeed to our friends at BioLab

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Rudy Stankowitz is a 30-year veteran of the swimming pool industry and President/CEO of Aquatic Facility Training & Consultants

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Tyler Swapp

    I’m a small service company in the Phx AZ market with 220 accounts. As of the end of Oct. our 4 major distributors have limited and raised prices from pre storm shortages of ~$85 for a 50# bucket to ~$125 for a 50# bucket. I highly doubt prices will ever go back down under $100 a bucket just my opinion. We have already started working on a structured price increase across all our accounts to compensate for the increase as our billing includes chems with service.
    Fearful in AZ.

    1. Rudy

      Dear Fearful in AZ,
      Thanks for reading and thank you for the update from your area. This is definitely caused for concern and I agree, an industry does not typically lower prices (at least not back to where they were) after an increase due to supply/demand. I know it’s hitting some of us now, but I am hoping this is resolved before pools in the Northern states open back up in spring. ?? Are your customers understanding of your need to increase rates to compensate?

  2. jennifer

    Tampa Bay area of Florida.
    Our wholesale prices on a 50lb are
    $120 limit 1 per truck per wholesaler shipment
    $135 limit 4
    $145 out of stock
    One wholesaler unpriced but rumored at around $100, as of 2 weeks ago.

    1. Rudy

      A limit of 1 bucket⁉ The price jumps suck, but we can raise prices to compensate for the increase in cost, but out of stocks and low quantity limits are a kick to the crotch for service companies. Thank you, Jennifer, for the update! Trichlor mfgs – whatever plan ‘B’ is, now would be a good time to roll that out. ??‍♂️

  3. Dustin Kernan

    We are a smaller company in central Texas. Our price for a 50# bucket of tabs is now $145(w/o tax) and limit one bucket a day PER COMPANY! Went today to get a bucket and ALL San Antonio branches were sold out as well as New Braunfels. We are now currently planning on having to raise our prices across the board. Being in a mainly rural area, most of our customers are taking losses themselves. We are anticipating losing a healthy amount of customers.

  4. Cowabunga Shaun

    While it is fortunate that this price increase has occurred during what would be considered the slow season here in FL where tablets aren’t needed. The fact remains that prices could be an impending doom to small pool companies such as myself. Distributor prices are now the equivalent to that of major stores like Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, and major pool stores. Hell you can probably get cheaper from Amazon. My distributor (SCP) cost for 50# of tablets is currently $165 and increase from the previous $100. Anyone reading this and finding a similar problem, my best suggestion is try to get a business account with local stores like leslies or pinch a penny who have their own distribution centers for a slightly reduced cost.

    1. Rudy

      Thanks, Shaun for the tip! Are you saying that you are currently finding DIY Mass Merchant Pool Supply stores yo be less expensive than distribution currently? Or, is this a ‘Plan for the future’ type of thing?

  5. Bret

    I’m a one man service company. My cost through Leslies has gone from $1.56 a pound for tri-chlor 3″ tabs to $2.57 a pound. I am in the process of writing a letter to my tri-chlor customers explaining the situation and their impending price increase. I am toying with the idea of charging them the difference in cost, thinking that this is a temporary thing. Most of my customers have been with me for over 5 years and are neighbors. Hopefully they will understand. But on the other side of the coin, if they decide to switch providers, other service companies will not be able to compete on price because they are in the same boat.

    1. Rudy

      Hey Bret, Thanks for reading and sharing some info. I’m not sure how long this shortage is going to last, but the real crunch will come spring when the Northern states start to reopen pools. Maybe I can save you having to reinvent the wheel with a price increase letter as we put one together that you can download and are welcome to use. You can check it out here

    2. Todd M Trice

      I’m in your boat exactly. In the Sacramento area we use tabs from April thru September. I only ever use 2 tabs max per pool because of the build up of cya problems. The new higher prices for tabs will cost me approximately $5 more per month per customer than last year. Not a real big problem in my book. Averaged over the year it’s like $2.50/ month . If I raise rates and lose more than six customers then I lose.

  6. DAVE

    Here in Florida Gorman company used to be 88 dollars. Then back in Sept raised it to 125 a bucket. Now they’re saying the just raised that to 150 per bucket!!!? I’ve been single guy cleaning and I’m going to have to figure something else to do after 18 years of doing pools. I still have my first customer after 18 years but asking for175 per month isn’t even something I want to consider. 50 customers per week equals roughly 8 buckets per month =$1200 just in chlorine is insane.

  7. Todd M Trice

    I run a 200 stop route in Sacramento and use tabs April thru September. I use a maximum of 2 tabs per pool in summer and supplement with calhypo. Any more tabs that that creates a cya nightmare! These new prices (was paying $80, now $130) will cost me an extra $1000 per month during the swim season. That’s not a real problem at this income level. Definitely not fearing for the future of my business! I’ll likely absorb the costs until my regular rate hike date comes, and then I’ll raise everyone a couple bucks. Pull up your big boy pants guys and gals. Sniveling about an annualized $2.50 increase per month to a customer would be embarrassing .

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