Over my many years in the pool business, I have answered the question many times as to what I do during the slower fall and winter months. The answer is always the same, and that is I prepare for the next season. Whether ordering product, checking incoming orders, preparing pricing or training with my coworkers to stay up to date with product knowledge, there is always plenty to do. But I must say, this off season has been strange and sometimes very frustrating due to a situation that received very little news coverage, at least very little in comparison to the great affect it had on the USA’s economy.
The “situation” as I referred to it, was the 9-month long battle of wills carried out by west coast dockworkers and the west coast port owners. Production slowdowns, lockouts, and all around animosity seemed to be all the rage. Meanwhile, containers of agricultural products spoiled, ships had to anchor at sea for weeks as they couldn’t be unloaded, and the American economy took a giant hit. I won’t even attempt to point fingers at one side or the other or suggest whether the Federal Government timed their involvement properly, I will just say as a small business person, it sure did stink to get caught in someone else’s fight. Shipments that normally take 4 weeks took two to three times longer, greatly increased freight rates, and very few solid answers from shippers were all regular occurrences this off season. I for one welcome spring not only for the better weather, but also for the end of an off season that felt like I was just along for a ride I could not control. Here’s to the new 5-year contract and hopefully 5 upcoming off seasons without all of these shipping worries!