A pool in the backyard is a dream-come-true for many homeowners, and more and more people are seeing it become a reality.
“Pools have actually been prevalent in New Jersey since the 1950s, and nationwide today there are six million in-ground pools,” says Steven Gorlin, president of Gorlin Pools & Spas.
Headquartered in Lakehurst, the company opened in 1999 and merged with the Princeton Pool & Patio Shop in April of this year. The long-time Princeton establishment on Alexander Street had relocated to Hightstown in 2005, explains former owner Wayne Wilson, who had become president and CEO, when his father Bill Wilson retired. The elder Mr. Wilson had owned the business since 1975, after having purchased the pool division from Princeton Fuel Oil.
“I started helping in the business when I was 14, says Wayne Wilson. “We began as a simple service firm, providing spring openings, closings, service and repairs, chemicals, patio furniture, weekly cleaning, and pool painting. When I became president and CEO, I proceeded to take the business in the direction of my passion: reconstruction, custom stone and concrete patios, tile, and the conversion of the old painted surfaces into the newer custom plaster surfaces.
“The business grew exponentially, and I had the honor of working for some very famous individuals, as well as at such locations as the Governor’s Mansion at Drumthwacket and also Morven. In 2004, I was notified by Princeton University about their targeted project for Alexander Street, and I purchased a new property in Hightstown. Then, during the recession, when the economy was rocked to its core, I had to contemplate where I wanted to go and how I could change the experience homeowners have with home improvement contractors.
“I approached Steven Gorlin, who had known my father, and who is chairman of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. He is a man of great integrity, much like my late father, and we agreed to merge our beliefs and businesses, and become the driving force of change in New Jersey. We still provide all the normal seasonal preparations, but in addition, we also offer new commercial and custom residential construction, waterscapes, such as waterfalls, custom in-ground spas, high technology fiber optic lighting, automated control systems, salt technology, and my passion of custom stone and concrete restoration services.”
Mr. Gorlin, who has been working in the pool business since 1969, is pleased to have a more prominent role in the Princeton pool market. “Previously, we had a small part of the Princeton market, and now since Wayne has joined us, we have the lion’s share. Now, our crews can stay in the area all day, not just come for one job.”
The combined efforts of Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Wilson create a professional and dynamic partnership. Customers can expect expert service — whether they are first-timers installing a new pool, renovating an existing one, or adding enhanced elements such as lighting and sound and improved hardscapes and waterscapes.
The choices available today are amazing. All shapes and sizes of pools, options as to color, texture, and style of the surface and deck are seemingly endless. And new advances come along all the time.
“We specialize in higher-end pools, including customized Gunite (concrete),” explains Mr. Gorlin. “We are set apart because we are certified in the pool industry as (1) certified building professionals (CBP), and (2) certified service professionals (CSP). I am both, and all of my technicians are certified pool operators (CPO). They go through chemistry courses. There are real safety issues relating to pools regarding chemicals.
“Also, pool alarms are available now which can be programmed. For example, if a child should go into the pool at night, the alarm goes off, and flood lights come on.”
Advances in technology relating to pools continues at a rapid pace, he adds. “The technology of pools is catching up with the technology in other areas. Today, you can control your pool from your cell phone, including adjusting the water temperature, if it is a heated pool; controlling water features such as water falls, etc. Lighting is very popular now, and the pool can be programmed for color. There is a multiple array of colors in lighting, and it’s a great way to set the mood and tone for a party.
“We also do all kinds of water features — ‘water in transit’ (that is, moving water), including waterfalls with laminar jets. These are all popular.”
Pools are available with vinyl linings, pre-fab fiber glass, and Gunite, points out Mr. Wilson. 20 feet by 40 feet (30,000 gallons of water) is a typical size, but all sizes and shapes are available. Currently, rectangular pools are making a comeback.
Textures and colors of the surface (bottom and walls) offer incredible variety. A lake or lagoon effect, a pebbled or sand look are favored, but there is really no end to the possibilities. Also, pavers and blue stone are very popular for decks now.
“Today, more people are enjoying the ambiance of the pool,” reports Mr. Gorlin. “They like to sit beside it, look at it, and relax, just as much as actually swimming. Pool parties are a very big deal. And there are so many features in pools today. For example, ‘vanishing edges’, in which three of the walls are higher than the other wall, creating an optical illusion. There is also a perimeter slot overflow. Water comes up over the pool and drops into a slot between the pool and the deck. It creates an unbelievable ‘mirror’ on top of the water.”
Of course, Gorlin Pools has a complete selection of all pool equipment, supplies, including automatic pool covers, and patio furniture.
“We also do weekly maintenance for 1200 people every month,” notes Mr. Gorlin. “Not all pool owners have the time or inclination to do this themselves, and as professionals, we check everything to make sure that it is operating correctly.”
Typically, the company focuses on residential pools but it also provides indoor pools for commercial use for hotels and other businesses.
“We have also put in pools at animal hospitals for therapy purposes for dogs and cats,” point out Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Wilson.
In addition to pools, the company provides in-ground spas and hot tubs, which are very popular with customers, who come from all over the area. Mercer, Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Somerset, and part of Hunterdon County are all part of the Gorlin area.
Although most people typically like to have their pool open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, many others are keeping them open even longer, says Mr. Gorlin. “Some have the pool open even until Thanksgiving, if it is heated. And this is becoming more and more popular, as people enjoy being outdoors as long as possible.”
It is a priority for Mr. Gorlin to see that customers have the pool they want, and he works with them to achieve the desired outcome. “The best part of my day is working with my employees and customers. I’m a people person. I love to get to know someone and learn what they want in their backyard, and then I can make it a reality for them.”
Mr. Wilson is proud that he is able to continue the business his father began in another setting, and that many of the Princeton Pool & Patio customers are still with him. “I am also pleased that I am able to focus on reconstruction, and I want our customers’ pools to last forever. With our experience and professional expertise, we are really the best at what we do.”
For customers who want a new pool for the next Memorial Day, it is best to start the process now, advise Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Wilson. “There are so many components involved: choosing the style, surface, deck, getting permits, etc. Also, whoever you hire, make sure they are professional and licensed and certified. We hope you will work with us. We want Gorlin to be a household name in Princeton!”
Gorlin Pool & Spas can be reached at (732) 323-8200. Website: www.gorlinpools.com.