METRA Australia is your innovation partner for smart electronic locking, Access Control solutions and cashless payment systems to suit all types of leisure facilities. Our team’s…read more
S.R.Smith acquires solar pool leader Sunbather
Pioneering Australian solar pool heating manufacturer Sunbather Pty Ltd has been bought by US-based aquatic equipment manufacturer S.R.Smith.
Along with the purchase of Sunbather, S.R.Smith has also acquired a 50% in Aspire Polymers Australia, a manufacturer of innovative rigid solar panels that had been working with Sunbather.
The acquisition will see no immediate staffing changes with Tom Boadle to remain as General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of Sunbather and all staff members expected to remain with the company.
Sunbather’s manufacturing and offices will remain in Hastings, Victoria and Sunbather will operate independently from Brisbane-based SRS Australia Pty Ltd led by Keith Hall.
Advising that the entire Sunbather team is excited to become part of the global SR Smith organisation and they look forward to continuing to grow both the Australian and international business, Boadle stated “the timing of this acquisition is strongly aligned with Australian and global demand for more energy efficient pool solutions.”
The transaction aligns with founder Simon Boadle’s desire to retire from the industry after 45 years of contribution, innovation and support.
SR Smith, LLC, is a leading manufacturer of swimming pool deck equipment, lighting and access products, headquartered in Oregon, USA. They have an office in Brisbane and acquired Australian company Anti Wave Australia in 2013 and certain assets from AFP in 2015.
Sunbather is a leading manufacturer and supplier of pool energy saving solutions both in the domestic and commercial sectors. The company’s portfolio includes solar pool heating and accessories, thermal pool covers and rollers, automatic security covers, hidden pool covers, heat pumps and gas heaters.
The acquisition was finalised on 31st October 2019 and Sunbather has been contacting clients and suppliers prior to announcing the sale.
Commenting on the acquisition, Rich Laitta, President and Chief Executive of S.R.Smith stated “there’s a lot of energy there and the acquisition will be a great addition to our business.
“We were impressed with the whole business at Sunbather. We had a look at it and we didn’t see a weakness, and the way they leverage technology will add real value.”
Both S.R.Smith and Sunbather are involved in the commercial market and Laitta says while they didn’t see a lot of overlaps, they did see a lot of synergies and a chance to complement what they were doing in the US.
Laitta advised “one of our goals is to be diversified in both commercial and residential - we’re striven to have a balance and that diversification has been working well so far in the US, and Sunbather will bring additional diversification in Australia.
“We also liked their manufacturing and thought that may provide opportunities for future expansion.”
Noting that Australia adds a sizeable increase to their existing market, Laitta explained “the Australian market has about one million pools, and the US market has about five million.
Neither are growing at a remarkable rate at the moment, but by adding Australia to the mix we have increased our available market by 20%.”
Regarding further acquisitions, Laitta added “we’re always looking for things that will add value to the whole business, and in time we may look at something else globally.”
Next step for Australian brand
Sunbather, founded in 1974 by Simon Boadle, pioneered the solar pool heating industry in Australia before expanding into thermal covers and security covers to become one of the largest suppliers of commercial pool covers in Australia.
Advising that the company has been undergoing tremendous growth over the past five years but needs a ready market and capital expenditure to realise its potential, Simon Boadle commented “a union with S.R.Smith can actually provide both of those things.
“They have a very well respected footprint in pretty much every country where you find swimming pools - especially in the commercial sector - and we’ll have access to the capital to meet that market very rapidly.”
Tom Boadle says that after 45 years of investing in the development of their products they have built a foundation for expansion, adding “up to now we’ve had to resource Sunbather ourselves which has naturally had its limitations. What we have built is a foundation of a strong brand, products and opportunities that will be better off in the hands of S.R.Smith with greater resources and better international connectivity. For us, we considered that we weren’t necessarily the ‘natural owners’ to take Sunbather to the next level.”
Export, commercial and growth
Simon Boadle says S.R.Smith was very excited about the Aspire products and that the Downunder launch has been very successful – Sunbather recently sold the Downunder into a number of export markets including the US.
He stated “we’ve pretty much sent them to every continent.
"Just recently in North America we’ve had sales of our products in Wyoming, Canada, Alabama and California amongst others.
“It became obvious that if we had a relationship with someone who already had distribution facilities in America, they could fill them with our products and have a ready market.”
With both parties seeing an enormous future in the commercial space, Tom Boadle concluded “the combined synergies make a lot of sense. There is no area where our two companies had been competing directly on products, but we regularly meet on site selling our individual products to aquatic centres. In terms of export, I feel in time there’ll be significant export from Hastings to the US.”
All Sunbather staff will be retained and minority shareholders John Dixon and Merv Smith will continue to drive growth under the new ownership in Queensland and New South Wales respectively.
Click here here to contact Sunbather Pty Ltd via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.
Click here to contact S.R.Smith via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.
Image shows (from left): Paul Carrol (Aspire), Bill Svendson and Mike DeDona (SRS), Simon Boadle and Anthony Lestani (Sunbather), Danielle Quintana and Richard Bacon (SRS), Mick Carrol (Aspire) and Tom Boadle (Sunbather).
30th October 2019 - New Ashfield Aquatic Centre to feature Australian-first moveable floor
12th August 2019 - Loreto Normanhurst enhances swimming options
5th February 2019 - Innovative Swim Wall enhances pool efficiency and programming at Cockburn ARC
29th June 2018 - Sunbather secures 2018 ARV Business Excellence Award
24th October 2017 - Sunbather Downunder Pool Cover System named SPASA Product of the Year
21st April 2017 - Sunbather offers a solution to soaring energy costs for Sydney pools
13th February 2017 - S.R.Smith completes SwimWall installation at Griffith University Gold Coast campus
10th July 2015 - S.R.Smith acquires assets of All Fibreglass Products
5th February 2015 - S.R.Smith expands product range for Australian aquatic facilities
6th August 2014 - Sunbather celebrates 40 years in business
20th January 2014 - S.R.Smith appoints Anti Wave Australia General Manager
11th November 2013 - S.R.Smith acquires Anti Wave Australia
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.
The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.
Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976, and has since grown into a leading company in the waterparks industry. Today Polin is one of the world leaders in the design, production, and installation of…read more
ATS are global leaders in altitude training and research. From mask systems and inflatable tents to simulated altitude facilities, we help all athletes gain the competitive edge. Our…read more
About Priava's Technology - Priava is a cloud-based and centralised venue and event management system aimed at venues of all sizes. With its familiar and easy-to-use web interface, the…read more
Goplay designs and manufactures specialised playground equipment for indoor play centres, hotels, food chains, clubs and resorts. If our years of experience and dedication have taught us one thing,…read more
Clubware’s online gym software is not your run of the mill management system. It has been carefully designed to incorporate all the elements that a fitness club would need. How did we do that?…read more
The Jump Pad is a safe, flat inflatable made in a variety of sizes which can be used indoor or outdoor. From 3mx3m up to a whopping 9mx21m. Markets include Indoor and outdoor playgrounds, schools,…read more
Anti Wave International is the original suppliers of top performance swim, aquatic sports, leisure and pool programming equipment. Founded in 1971, Anti Wave International is proud of its…read more
get listed with our suppliers directory
Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!