Canadian Business Executive wrote a feature article on our company in their summer issue. Read the article below.
Master Pools by Dominion Gunite Calgary Ltd. (MPDG) started out in 1955, not building pools at all. Originally (and still legally) operating under the name Dominion Gunite, the team worked for a decade, specializing in shotcrete for tunnels, retaining walls and other construction applications. “In the early ‘60s, we were doing bank reinforcements, slopes and other shotcrete work,” says Eric Drolet, owner and president of MPDG. The team began receiving inquiries for pools, and soon entered the aquatics business. In 1965, MPDG officially transitioned to a full-scale pool builder and became a member of the Master Pools Guild.
Today the business exclusively builds pools. Working in both the commercial and residential sectors, MPDG offers a range of design and construction services to fit client visions and structural needs. “Ever since we joined the Master Pools Guild, we have been working over a majority of the country,” Drolet notes. “We share a dedication to quality and attention to detail, but it doesn’t stop there. We build continuous relationships with our clients. We do everything in-house. We employ designers and engineers; we do our own sales and construction.” By keeping all of the work in-house, MPDG offers unparalleled quality control, as well as a single communication point. Everyone on the team is on the same page, making it easier to exchange feedback and information with customers.
Making a Splash
“Our business is a mix of residential, semi-commercial and commercial,” says Drolet. “As far as dollars go, the divisions are pretty even.” Drolet also owns a sister company, Water Fun Products, a pool accessory manufacturer. The two businesses offer a partnership with cost-saving benefits for MPDG and customers. “In our slide division, spray parks with water slides are a growing new trend,” Drolet explains. “We are trying to grow with fading the pool away with a dry pad for safety. Spray parks are very easy to clean if there is an accident, with no need to drain the water. It’s a feature we are pushing at the moment.”
With swimming pools, the team is pushing the limits with new designs. “Our designer was the best in the United States,” Drolet notes. “He has moved to Canada and now works with us full time.” MPDG builds custom pools for hotels, apartment complexes, homes and health clubs. The company’s design team offers a range of looks and functions, from narrow lap pools for the rich and famous, lined with tile mosaics, to Olympic-sized pools for training athletes. Recent projects include the Sparwood Spray Park, a condo therapy pool, and two winners of major awards. “At the Fox Hotel and Suites, we constructed a cave and basin hot pool, which achieved the 2011 Gold Award for a Non-Attached Concrete Spa from the Master Pools Guild,” Drolet elaborates. “At the Hidden Ridge Resort in Banff, Alberta, we built a pool that won Gold for Semi Public Pools, also from the Master Pools Guild.”
Business is Pouring In
With so many divisions working in sync, MPDG is able to provide great savings to customers. This adds a boost to margins and helps Drolet and the team maintain quality control over every component of a project. “We can design everything to completion, which is pretty unique,” he explains. “We also have fabrication capabilities for water features. We don’t have to purchase our slides, which means we can increase the warranty and give our customers a better maintenance program.”
MPDG does not produce absolutely everything in-house, and Drolet notes that his relationships with suppliers are strong. “We work with Pentair for many of our products,” he says. “Another supplier we use is cover star, which seals the pool to the point that you can walk across it. It is totally child safe.” Water Fun and MPDG’s service departments are growing steadily. The features division sells outside of the business, ramping up margins.
Drolet and his team have seen an increase in business over the last few years, with the residential market picking up quickly. “We have one project in Radville, which is a renovation of a centennial pool,” he notes. “It is so old that the owner can’t use it. We are renovating it by building a pool inside a pool. We are utilizing everything on the site, so this is a very environmentally healthy project. We are even refurbishing the mechanical, so we are keeping the facilities intact. The government has been helping a lot with funds to grow the renovation market. It really reflects the future of this industry.”
Business remains stable, despite a negative trend in construction worldwide. “We haven’t seen any trends of bad luck,” Drolet says. “Our revenue has been stable over the last five years, and we are trying to break through that roof. We are pushing our spray parks division with Water Fun, but that company is not just about water parks. It helps us do a lot of hotel and motel work, which is another area we are expanding further into. There are many community pools that are looking to break through to something different, which is our big niche.”
MPDG continues to grow, offering leading products and services to clients across Canada. Drolet and his crew offer unparalleled experience as well as unusual in-house resources to keep prices low and control quality. Master Pools By Dominion Gunite Calgarywill continue to expand, offering unusual products for the pool industry that give clients and their customers hours of entertainment in safe, attractive settings.
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