Barry Bartakovits Custom Pools and B&B Pools Inc.

By Nancy Moffett

Walk into the B&B Pools store located in the Shoppes at Hellertown, and the first thing you’ll notice is a wall loaded with awards given to Barry Bartakovits Custom Pools (BBCP) by the Northeast Spa & Pool Association, Penn Jersey Pool & Spa, Lehigh Valley Builders Association…more than 30 from various organizations. The latest is a source of pride for owner Barry Bartakovits the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ 2011 International Silver award. “We were competing with pool builders from around the world, so we’re pleased to have this recognition,” he says.

Bartakovits has been with the business since 1976 when it was B & B Pools. In 1999 he and his wife Sharon bought and renamed it, but retained the B & B Pools moniker for the retail store. “We’re 100 percent swimming pools,” he explains. And, all the pools they build are concrete – no fiberglass or liners. BBCP has built pools for such well-known Lehigh Valley residents as Larry Holmes, Michael and Mario Andretti and Matt Millen. Commercial projects include the fountain at the Saint Luke’s Anderson Campus in Easton and pools for Marriott and Hyatt hotels and Traditions of America. However, the bulk of BBCP’s work is home pools. Indeed, their website’s tag phrase is “Let us build your backyard oasis.”

And, these days, that’s exactly what homeowners are looking for, according to Bartakovits. “With the economic downturn, people are staying put and spending their weekend playtime at home. They want to vacation in their homes all year round,” he says. A pool gives them a place to relax and chill out.

In addition to the awards, Bartakovits is proud that nearly 90 percent of his business comes from customer referrals. He attributes this success to attention to detail, service and working hand-in-hand with customers. “We handle every project from start to finish,” he says, from designing and building the pool to renovations 20 years later to opening-and-closing service and a retail store stocked with everything a pool owner may need.

Every project begins with an on-site consultation to choose the best location for the pool and to begin the design process. “We combine the customer’s ideas and our expertise to design the perfect pool for them,” Bartakovits explains. After excavation, the pool is constructed with a crushed stone base, steel reinforcement and a concrete shell with an aggregate quartz finish. The project can take from 30 to 90 days, depending on its size. The company also works with landscapers to finish off that oasis with plants, trees, pathways and lighting. Tube slides, waterfalls, swim-up bars, sunshelfs and spas can be incorporated for even more relaxation and fun.

One of the issues that deter people from considering a pool is maintenance. But Bartakovits says controls have become so sophisticated you can run your pool off your Smart Phone…turning on waterfalls, spas, lights, etc. Automatic cleaning systems are much more efficient than the turtles of old. Buying a BBCP pool includes a one-to-two-hour indoctrination on caring for it. BBCP also provides valet service for those who don’t want to do these tasks themselves. They also do free water testing for customers, which he recommends every two weeks during the swimming season. “Putting in a pool is a significant investment,” he says, “and you want it to not be a chore.”

In addition to the enjoyment of a backyard retreat, another home pool benefit is aquatic exercise. An option for the exerciser with a smaller pool is a swim jet that generates a current so you can swim in place. Bartakovits says this is an expensive option, but it works.

BBCP has 17 employees, including Bartakovits’ sister, son and brother, as well as his wife Sharon and mascot Gracie, the Maltese/Yorkshire mix who greeted me when I visited. There’s so much camaraderie in the group that they were throwing a birthday party for Gracie that day, complete with (people) cake. Several employees have been with the company for 20 years, and three have been with BBCP for 30.

In day-to-day operations, Bartakovits is hands-on, handling all pool renovations himself and overseeing installations. When and why does a pool need renovating? “Equipment needs to be updated, and the tile and finishes get dull after many years exposed to the elements,” he explains. BBCP can also add upgrades to existing pools such as new finishes, coping, decking, waterfalls, spas, etc.

What’s his advice to homeowners contemplating a new pool or a renovation? “Make sure the company you choose is licensed with the state. We are licensed in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.” And, you want a contractor who specializes in pools, not someone who does it as a sideline. BBCP is a member of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Lehigh Valley Builders Association and the Better Business Bureau.

For a man who began by doing labor in field installations, Bartakovits has brought BBCP to a position of respect and success in the Lehigh Valley and in the industry. As one of his customers says: “The quality of the product in all regards is exceptional. Perhaps one of the best testaments to your work is the fact that you were the person who was recommended by every landscaper we spoke to. Your coordination was one of the keys to the ultimate end product – a beautiful-looking swimming pool and surrounding environment.”

Sources

Barry Bartakovits Custom Pools
9 South Main Street
Hellertown, PA
610-691-POOL (7665)
www.custompoolsbybarry.com

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