Industry: Built Environment
Products: Pools, tubs, and sinks
Husband-and-wife co-founders Stephanie and Tom Bennett's custom pools, tubs, and sinks are in big demand.
It all started with a bathtub.
Stephanie and her future husband, Tom, were catching up over cocktails when she mentioned that she really wanted a bathtub, but couldn't find one she liked.
Tom, who had a welding business in Louisville, had a solution. "He says, 'You design it, and I'll build it for you out of stainless steel,'" Stephanie recalls. "I designed it, and we built it together."
After seeing the finished product, they knew they were onto something. Stephanie had $7,000 in savings, and Tom said he'd match it to see if they could get some traction building custom bathtubs and sinks, and Diamond Spas was born.
After opening the business in an old dairy with dirt floors in Louisville, Diamond Spas expanded the company to include the pool and spa industry. In 2008, just as the recession hit, the company relocated to its current location in Frederick. "We didn't have an order for four months, but we never let one employee go," says Stephanie, who now serves as president of the company. "We kept everyone employed."
The catalog now includes stainless steel and copper spas, swim spas, swimming pools, cold plunge pools and water features. It also has a kitchen and bath collection that features stainless steel and copper soaking baths, whirlpools, Japanese baths, custom shower pans, bathroom vessel sinks, and bar and kitchen sinks.
All of the company's products are made from recyclable materials, so if clients want to redo their spa or pool, they can achieve a return on their investment. Diamond Spas follows sustainable practices as often as possible, Stephanie says.
Diamond Spas' pools, baths, and sinks can be found in private residences, hotels, day spas, and cruise ships around the globe. New York and Florida are particularly good markets, but the company ships as far away as Europe, Israel, and Turkey.
But the company eschews the traditional sales model. "We do not sell through distribution," Stephanie says. "We are a direct-sell manufacturer selling to the trades in all markets, as well as the homeowner."
Challenges: It's sometime difficult to compete against companies that import metal kitchen and bath products from countries like India and Mexico. It is far cheaper to manufacture a product in a foreign country than it is in the United States, so those companies can sell products for far less than Diamond Spas, which manufactures all of its custom products in the United States.
Opportunities: Diamond Spas has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past few years. In 2016, its revenue was up 22 percent over the previous year, and 2017 saw an 18 percent increase.
Stephanie says she sees even more opportunity for growth. Diamond Spas is working to meet the specifications of the California Energy Commission, which establishes the standards for the amount of energy a spa can use. It's developing a spa that meets those specifications for customers who live in municipalities that require aquatic vessels to use a lower energy level. "That will be attractive to people who live in those areas who don't want to pay the tax, as well as all of the people who are concerned about energy consumption," Stephanie says.
The company also is developing a standard spa for people who don't want to wait for for a custom product to be made.
And Stephanie says she's seen an uptick in the number of people who want custom bathtubs made for outdoor areas, as well as a growing number of people who want cold-plunge pools. "We have some clients who have amazing exterior areas and don't have room for a spa or pool and don't want to be responsible for water chemistry but still want an outdoor place to relax," she says. "We can make a bathtub any size you want."
Needs: Though Diamond Spas recently completed an expansion that gives it a total of 26,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space, the company has already outgrown it and likely will be looking for a new location in a few years. "We need more space," Stephanie says. "The projects we do are getting bigger and bigger."