A Bigger Splash

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-By John Boley

AVP Commercial Pools is a Western Australia-based company specialising in the design, construction and renovation of public and commercial swimming and aquatic facilities. The company’s Managing Director, Mark Harper, has more than 30 years of experience in this sector, dating back to when he was just 17. He began by working for a then well-known company before starting out on his own three years later. In 1996 AVP began its operations, with its main business the supply of pools to local councils and other state providers of leisure facilities.

These days, AVP has a national reach, with offices in Queensland and Victoria to back up the main office in Perth.

AVP is capable of dealing with anything to do with the pool, including the fascia, all the hydraulics and pipeworks, filtration, water chemistry, covers and any ancillary works. Generally, says Mark, “We work as a sub-contractor to the head contractor on the big aquatic centres. We do a lot of remote work where there are smaller aquatic centres.” In such cases, AVP can carry out an entire project including items such as fencing, plant room, landscaping, “and we have just completed a couple of such projects for country shires.” The company also specialises in remote Aboriginal community pools in Perth for WA’s department of housing. “We have completed about 12 of these so far.”

Any kind of pool installation needs maintenance but there is also the need to renovate, and this accounts for around 40 per cent of AVP’s business. Typically, especially when dealing with a municipal pool, this might include provision of improved facilities for the disabled, such as ramps, converting the pool to a wet deck so that the water levels would be with the concourse, “and generally we upgrade the filtration systems because the old pools would have a slow filtration rate.”

This is a business area with plenty of potential, says Mark, because of the huge number of pools built around the time of the 1962 Commonwealth Games. “They built hundreds of these pools and they are all coming to the end of their life at the moment.” A lot of the councils now are looking at the greener aspects of the upgrading of the swimming pools and the entire design has become a lot more environmentally friendly in the last decade or so, Mark believes.

AVP will build virtually any type of pool but generally centres on concrete fully tiled installations or the Italian Myrtha modular system (please see sidebar for further details) which comes in from Europe pre-fabricated. This accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of AVP’s pools. “There is nothing like this available in Australia; it’s a specialised field and they are set up to produce an Olympic size pool almost every day.”

That does not have to mean long lead times, however. “It’s not really a factor. By the time you go through all the approval processes and all the preparation, it takes about 8-10 weeks from the time we order it to the time it will be delivered out.” Myrtha’s expertise is legendary. “You name it and they can build it, plus we also get their expertise worldwide and this keeps us in the loop as to what is happening around the world.”

Is there much difference between outdoor and indoor installations? “Not really. Only in terms of construction time, which tends to be longer [with the latter] – generally if it’s an indoor pool we will go in and do the pool shell first and then we will go away while the builder builds the construction side of it. Then we come back and finish it off. But it doesn’t make much difference to us.” Likewise, business is hardly seasonal, “although we tend to be a little bit busier during the winter because outdoor centres will close down for renovations. So a new build will virtually start almost any time of year, but renovations will generally be starting during April or May and they usually reopen around November.”

The requirements for commercial pools – condominiums, hotels and resorts, for example – are essentially similar to those of municipal pools. “We have recently completed a very big pool up in Nelson Bay in NSW which is about 500m long. We have just finished a huge redevelopment for a casino here in Perth, renovating the old pool and about another half a dozen smaller pools in there too.”

Lap pools are substantially all similar, “but where they do differ is in the leisure component. We don’t just do swimming pools; we also supply the slides, splash parks and the spray parks which are becoming more and more popular.”

Apparently it is “not unusual” for Mark and his team to be asked to fix a pool installed by someone else that has developed a problem. “It’s happened numerous times. In one case in particular, we lost the contract to a rival only to get a phone call a few months down the line asking us to come and help finish it off!” In short, says Mark, AVP can do just about anything to do with water and leisure. “If you need any type of commercial pool, come to us. We are everywhere in Australia. With more than 50 full time employees plus sub contractors, we can do it, whatever it is.”

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 14, 2020, 1:06 AM AEST