Take A Dip

Ozcrete Pools

Ozcrete Pools has developed a reputation for excellence and innovation since Roy Barby founded it back in 1988. Roy’s nephew, company Product Manager Andrew Smith, credits Roy for his vision, knowledge and experience. “I’ve been in the industry for eleven years, but he’s been in the industry for a lot longer than I have.”

Having previously spent nine years as Site Manager, Mr Smith knows firsthand that Ozcrete projects are completed on time and to budget. The company will never compromise on quality, providing clients from councils to schools with hassle-free pool solutions. “Give us a ring if you’ve got an idea about building a pool,” says the company.

There was a time when Ozcrete built domestic pools as well as commercial pools. “We haven’t done any domestic pools for about seven years now,” comments Mr Smith. “The market here is very small and nothing like it was eight years ago.”

With the domestic pool market having shrunk significantly, Ozcrete Pools soon advanced to larger scale projects. Building commercial pools is a very different proposition compared to building domestic pools. “We’re talking multi-panel pools with water joints in them and water stock and 24/7 filtration systems…” Mr Smith explains.

The company has an impressive project portfolio including a water play park at Maroochydore’s Cotton Tree Aquatic Centre; a learn-to-swim pool at Sheldon College; and a twenty-five metre pool in Noosa. “That was actually our first job as an incorporated company,” shares Mr Smith. “We moved from doing subcontract work (we used to do a lot of work with Q-Build). Back in the days, we also used to do pools for apartment-type complexes and work like that when the building boom was on. We got to the stage where we thought, ‘we have to start tendering the jobs on our own,’ so that was the first job we tendered as a building company.”

Ozcrete Pools provides great value to clients over the long term. Over the years, it has developed superior systems and techniques for building, renovating and repairing commercial pools and plant rooms. Time-tested systems and techniques for construction and renovation are incorporated into all project work. “We can go to plant rooms now, and see that the people who built them in the seventies built them to last,” says Mr Smith. “A lot of the later stuff was built to a price.”

It is pointless, Mr Smith believes, to incorporate cheap pool components, lasting only a few years, into a design. Being the product manager, Mr Smith is involved in sourcing the best quality components from right around the world and he develops the control systems for advanced touchscreen plant rooms. “A little bit more of an investment at the start makes the product last a lot longer, and it’s good for our business too,” he says. “We do import from the United States, Italy, Turkey and China; they’re the major areas. From the start of the global financial crisis, to maintain some sort of profit level, we had to go and search for the components on our own.” Mr Smith emphasises that Ozcrete Pools only sources the best components on the market including European pump, American filters and Italian chemical systems, while all of the electrical components are Australian made.

Backyard pools that may only ever be used by a family of five require regular maintenance and occasional replacing of parts and the same is true for a commercial pool. In the latter case, however, failing to perform proper maintenance and repairs can create a public health hazard so besides building commercial pools, Ozcrete also specialises in maintenance, renovations and repairs.

“That’s actually more than half our business,” says Mr Smith. “A lot of the Olympic pools, especially the Department of Education ones, were all built in the seventies so the pipe work, filtration systems and finishes deteriorate over that time and need to be replaced.” To this end, Ozcrete provides a comprehensive repairs and maintenance service.

At the moment, the company performs a lot of work surrounding plant rooms and converting paved Olympic pools to fully tiled pools. The company can even convert scum gutter style pools to wet deck style pools by modifying the old pool shell, resulting in a reduced maintenance pool that has a new lease on life.

Then there are the company’s eco pools that reduce water usage and save money. Ozcrete estimates that a Queensland pool will experience around 1.2 metres of evaporation per year; normally, the rainwater from the catchment area of a pool is wasted. “What we do is take that water and store it in underground tanks built as a part of the pool shell, and you use that water to top the pool up when it’s not raining.”

No matter what the job, the team of professional multi-skilled tradesmen at Ozcrete Pools take great pride in workmanship. They have been trained to do everything from concrete and steel work to finishing and tiling. “That’s the way our company works,” says Mr Smith. “We’ve got guys on staff with machinery licences, and we can virtually do everything on our own.”

Half of Ozcrete’s project work comes through public tender and the other half comes through referral, Mr Smith estimates. “Being a small industry, word of mouth goes around, and we do a lot of work in the education sector – both private and public schools.”

Although Ozcrete Pools has a fantastic reputation in the commercial pool industry, Mr Smith is honest about the fact that some client expectations of costs are unrealistic. “We’ve been looking at doing business outside of South East Queensland and sometimes the misconception of what a commercial pool costs compared to a backyard pool is huge. That’s been a learning curve for us. There are some smaller councils out in the country that really don’t have an understanding of costs.” A filtration system built for twelve backyard pools, for example, is not suitable for a commercial pool that may be used by three hundred people a day, and cutting corners when building commercial pools inevitably leads to ongoing problems down the track for the client and in some cases can even become a public health issue. “It’s a unique industry and if you get the pool right the first time, there are no problems. If you get it wrong, it’s a continuing nightmare – a headache forever.”

While the company may not have the cheapest pools on the market, they are built to provide decades of fun to schools and communities. People young and old are after the wow factor from their water parks and aquatic centres. A basic pool is simply not enough anymore; the public expects slides, sprayers and water toys that are bigger and better than before.

The importance of renovations and repairs also cannot be overstated. Mr Smith says that a lot of the water parks in Queensland are starting to look a bit dated and there haven’t been many upgrades happening in recent times. “The big waterslides up here cop a real beating from the sun,” he explains. In just a few years under the hot Queensland sun, the waterslide roofs can fade completely.

Going forward, Ozcrete Pools plans to focus more strongly on the consulting and design stages of the construction process. “At the moment, we’re trying to grow more into the consulting side of commercial pools because we’ve got an office that can produce CAD (computer-aided design). That’s where we’d like to be.”

Indeed, Ozcrete Pools has the experience and expertise to make ideas come to life. Whether clients are thinking about installing, renovating or repairing a commercial pool or plant room, the team at Ozcrete Pools is ready to get to work. “Give us a ring at any stage and we’ve always got somebody who can talk you through the process.”

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’?

June 2, 2020, 1:49 PM AEST