Reef Tropical Pool & Landscape

Virtuosity in Pool Service: Fostering Long-Term Strategies

Jun 1, 2021 8:24:28 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Maintenance, Pool & Spa Construction, Landscape Maintenance, Hiring a Pro, south Florida

As defined in gymnastics, virtuosity is "performing the common uncommonly well." My fitness coach taught me to apply this in training by focusing on the fundamentals above sophisticated movements, i.e., air squats vs. squat cleans. Candidly, I can use this mindset in everything I do, i.e. safely driving my car vs. leading a company. Likewise, in the pool & landscape industry, our field service teams must perform the essential things well because our service quality is on stage. Moreover, our customers readily recognize the basic stuff and our company efficacy is at risk if we do not learn how to perform the fundamentals exceptionally well and consistently.

So why are there still green pools and brown grass? The basic reoccurring requirements of our trade remain which can often lead to burnout and counter-productive behaviors, including negative compliance, work avoidance, unwarranted absenteeism, and failure to follow safety regulations. How is it possible for our management teams to maintain their joy and emotional health while addressing identical customer complaints? What does virtuosity look like in the work environment, and how can we apply this in our leadership? How can we instill values to do the basic things exceptionally well and onboard virtuosity? This article will begin to answer some of these questions and discuss ways to build a service-minded culture.

If you survey our customers, you will find that we are still far from perpetually sustaining quality in service delivery. Therefore, I am no expert in this conversation, and we are growing and learning just like others in the industry. Yet, based on numerous organizational interventions over the past years, our customers have experienced a renewed energy and passion for improving and addressing their needs. These changes have allowed the right customers to join us on the mission and professionally acknowledge our continual task completion duties under adverse and monotonous circumstances. Nevertheless, I'm profoundly aware that we will fail in our mission without a clear and sustainable purpose for executing these basic tasks "uncommonly well." So here are some things we do:

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Building People through Essential Business – A Family Story about Legacy

Aug 27, 2020 8:47:15 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction, Landscape Maintenance, Hiring a Pro

This story is dedicated to my daughter Harper who just entered the maintenance phase of her cancer journey after nine consecutive months of fighting. I love you Harper and I pray that one day you will read this story and it will help you through challenging times in your career. 

By writing this in the first person, my biases and personal experiences will shape the content of the story. Yet, just as our service minded team brings their authentic selves to pools and landscapes in South Florida each day, I want to bring a transparent and relatable story about family life and business at Reef Tropical to readers and followers. Maybe the story may move people towards action and shape beliefs, but primarily, it is a story of ethical and empowering leadership within a dynamic and competitive work environment.

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5 Pool Lighting Ideas That Will WOW Your Guests!

May 8, 2018 11:14:17 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction, Pool & Spa Repair and Renovation

Imagine changing your pool lighting from a cool, blue, crisp glow to a starry night scene or an energetic light show—all with a few taps on a smartphone app. Pool and spa lighting has evolved big-time in the last several years, and the range of LED and fiber optic lights completely change the dynamic of a pool environment. Lighting is a game changer.

Pool lighting has always been important for safety—and, of course, for extending swimming time. But what we love about today’s cool pool lighting is how high-tech illumination and easy-to-use controls gives you the flexibility to create a range of moods in the pool area. Hosting a football Sunday? It’s easy to pop on the pool light colors of your favorite team and wash your spirit over the water. Having friends over for an evening cocktail party? Who says you can’t match the pool lighting to the color of the cosmopolitan cocktails you’re serving? Then, flip on a light show to wow your guests.

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Child Safety Fences and the Reality of Pool Code Enforcement

Jan 16, 2018 4:01:51 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Maintenance, Pool & Spa Construction

Your vision of a stunning pool and spa is becoming a reality—and whether you’re in the initial design and planning phases, or nearing the end of pool construction, it’s always the right time to be thinking about swimming pool code. One question property owners frequently ask is, “Do I really need a child safety fence?”

The simple answer is, yes.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) unintentional drowning statistics note that an average of 10 people die every day because of unintentional drowning, with 1 in 5 of those being children 14 and younger. That National Safety Council’s drowning report cites that about 250 children under age 5 drown each year, with most incidents occurring in backyard pools when an adult was nearby but not watching and the child fell in the pool.

So yes—yes, you need a child safety fence for your pool and spa even if you don’t have children.

You need the “pool baby fence,” as they’re often called, even if your property backs up to a waterway. (And yes, we realize that a child could easily get into the waterway, too, but the safety fence still must surround your pool.)

Yes, you need the safety fence even if you have a postcard perfect view of the ocean that you don’t want to block.

And, yes, there are a few other options aside from a physical barrier, and we’ll talk about those here, along with answering questions about why this code exists, what you can do to comply, and what happens if the inspector arrives on your property and you don’t have the proper barrier in place.

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8 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Multiple Pool And Spa Construction Proposals

Dec 1, 2017 5:04:47 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction

You’re preparing to decide which contractor to hire to build your South Florida pool or spa. You have a plan from an architect or designer—someone who has created a sketch or a more detailed rendering of your backyard dream. Now, it’s time to hire a pool construction company to make it a reality. You collected some contractors’ names and cold-called a couple others you found online. Now, you’ve got five contractors who are submitting proposals to build your pool. How do you understand and evaluate multiple pool and spa construction proposals?

We understand, this can be a daunting process. But, there are some fairly simple ways to compare proposals and determine if a pool contractor is truly qualified, experienced and fair. Here are eight important factors to consider when comparing multiple proposals so you can make the best choice.

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General Contractors Can Add Value To Properties By Partnering With Reef Tropical

Aug 24, 2017 11:04:00 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction, Landscape Design

Let’s face it, no one can do it all. Building a house is your priority, but what’s outside is critical for boosting property value and providing the lifestyle homeowners seek in South Florida. By outsourcing pool and landscape design and installation—including pool and spa construction, landscape design and installation— you can save time and resources.

Reef Tropical has partnered with general contractors in South Florida for 20 years, and there is virtually no pool, spa or landscape issue we haven’t dealt with in our market. That’s why sophisticated general contractors including Coastal Construction, Suffolk Construction and Brodson Construction, among others, rely on our team to manage specific tasks related to the pool or landscape, or to take those components of their property developments from conception to completion. (Most turn the keys over to us because they know we are the pros in this space.) We specialize in creating and maintaining an outdoor entertainment area.

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Swimming Pool Automation Offers Remote Control, Monitoring and Cost Savings

May 1, 2017 8:04:00 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Maintenance, Pool & Spa Construction

You’re stepping off the plane, thinking about wading in your warm South Florida pool—so you pull out your mobile device, click on an app and adjust the pool temperature. The water will be ready by the time you arrive home.

You’re renting your Florida Keys home to visitors during the months you are away. Rather than worry about guests adjusting pool settings (and possibly emptying a gas tank or running up electric costs), you remotely adjust and lock the settings. Wherever you are, you can check in to see if the pool temperature, lights and filtration systems are where you want them to be.

You’re entertaining in your outdoor living space, so you use your tablet to turn on an LED light show that changes the pool color. You also can slow down or speed up the flow of water streaming from the pool’s waterfall.

Swimming pool automation gives you the control and flexibility to manage pool settings with the click of an app on your phone, tablet or computer. Plus, a pool maintenance provider can gain access to the master controls to monitor efficiency, sanitation and filtration.

Pool owners gain peace of mind knowing that they can manage pool settings when they’re not at home—and the convenience of using a mobile device to change lighting, water temperature and other features.

Here is how today’s advanced swimming pool automation equipment works and why about 98% of our pool and spa owners are adopting this technology.

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How Our Tiling Process Has Changed The Way Pools Are Built In South Florida

Apr 26, 2017 4:10:00 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction

Do you notice a white film covering your pool tile that requires constant care but never goes away? Are pool tiles popping? Do you notice darker tiles that indicate areas where groundwater is leaching into pool?

Unfortunately, poor pool tile installation reveals itself months and even years after a job is complete. By then, you have invested thousands of dollars in materials and labor—and your pool is in use.

There are a number of pool contractors in South Florida that bring in tiling subcontractors who do a fine job of tiling bathrooms, kitchens, floors and backsplashes. But the process and materials required to correctly apply tile in a submerged application like a pool are completely different. The pool tiling process is sophisticated, requires ongoing training and an understanding of pool tile and manufacturers’ tiling requirements. (Don’t expect a manufacturer to uphold a warranty if tile was not installed according to their specifications!)

Inferior pool tile is such a problem for many property owners, so Reef Tropical has focused resources on developing a pool tiling process that is designed to maintain the beauty and integrity of tile. Our process may take longer and cost a bit more than competing pool contractors, but the difference is, you won’t be calling us six months or several years later with tile problems that require expensive renovations.

We can’t emphasize “buyer beware” enough. If the price of tiling your pool sounds too good to be true, it is. We educate general contractors and architects about the proper pool tiling process so they can include the time, cost and materials in the overall scope of work. (For example, you cannot rush the curing process, unless you want tile problems down the road.)

What is the pool tiling process at Reef Tropical, and what does this mean for your pool project? Let us fill you in…

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Do You Need Swimming Pool Pilings In South Florida? Here’s Our Advice.

Nov 29, 2016 6:57:00 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction

You’re planning a swimming pool for your South Florida property, and you hired a pool provider to design and install it. But then the subject of pool pilings comes up. Will this mean more approvals, more cost? (Is the pool even possible?)

What you might want to know is: Will your South Florida swimming pool need pilings, and what does this mean?

We deal with this question all the time in Miami and The Keys. About half of the pools in South Florida that we build do need pilings. Because of our coastal environment in South Florida, we find silty beach sand, water and even limerock. Knowing the soil composition before starting any pool construction project is critical. Once we find out the exact makeup of the soil at the proposed site, we might need to add support to the pool’s concrete foundation with pilings.

Some pools require a couple of pilings to support the infrastructure—others need dozens. It all depends on the soil, the size of your pool, and the load that the concrete structure will bear.

So, let’s talk about how we determine whether swimming pool pilings are a must for your South Florida pool project, and what this could mean in terms of cost.

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Demystifying The Permit Process When Building A Swimming Pool In South Florida

Nov 9, 2016 10:32:14 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Pool & Spa Construction


You envision a swimming pool on your South Florida property—a gathering place for guests at your resort, a social hub at the condo association, a favorite place for your family to hang out at home. Spending time by the pool on a commercial or residential property is a part of Florida life.

The swimming pool planning begins. A design is proposed. But why is it taking so long to break ground? What is the deal with pool permits in South Florida?

Property owners can feel frustrated when a swimming pool project seems to be “on hold” for 60 days or longer during the building permit process. It seems like nothing is happening. But in fact, the opposite is true.

The swimming pool permit process is dynamic, detail-oriented, and includes back-and-forth communication between the pool provider, engineer and regulatory bodies. We understand, the wait time during this permit process can seem long and drawn out. But the reality is that significant planning, engineering and compliance-based activities are occurring behind the scenes.

There is a lot that goes into securing a swimming pool permit in South Florida. The good news is, there things you can do to speed up the process—preparation being the key. Also, understanding what happens during the pool permit process helps set realistic expectations for the project timeline.

The fact is, securing a permit is an integral part of the pool construction process—there’s no pool without a permit. So, let’s talk about what you should know before a pool permit can be submitted, and what to expect once a pool permit has been filed for review. Here are some common myths and realities—and what you can do to speed up the permit process.

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