Making a splash: Local businesses help residents find perfect pools

There’s nothing like a relaxing dip in a cool pool as the weather heats up on sunny summer days. Or, perhaps you prefer the bubbly motion of a hot tub or spa.

Either way, from Loves Park, Illinois, to Beloit and Janesville, ‘tis the busy season for all pool and spa businesses in the Stateline Area.

One, however, has been in business for more than a half century. Its name? Wolter Pool Co.

Once you’ve lived around water, it’s hard to forget the feeling.

Take the couple who began Wolter Pool Co., in Beloit, for example. Swimming pools, spas, saunas and service are featured.

“I grew up on a lake, I said I would miss swimming,” Pat Wolter told her husband, Russ Wolter, when they moved to Beloit.

So, in 1965, he ordered a pool kit.

“He and mom and his brother, Mark Wolter, put the first pool together,” said the couple’s daughter, Kim Wolter. “Dad learned as he went.”

Soon the Wolter family had a swimming pool in their back yard. The pool became a great source of fun for the family and the neighborhood kids who gathered there, Kim Wolter said.

Russ also worked for 30 years managing or supervising a theater in Lake Geneva and the Ellis and Majestic theaters in downtown Beloit, as well as the Midcity outdoor theater between Beloit and Janesville. And on the side, the couple started the pool business out of their garage.

“We grew up with people coming through the breezeway and into the garage,” Kim Wolter said. “We didn’t see much of our dad, he did the pool business during the day and managed the theaters at night. He is a worker like no other. Dad is a very good business manager and mom is good with money.”

Over the years, the pool business continued to flourish and Russ decided after 30 years in the theater management business, it was time to retire. He then made pools his full-time job.

As a result of the growing business, a separate building was built in 2001 for Wolter Pool Co. at 3180 Prairie Ave., Beloit.

The business is now in its 51st year of existence and remains family-owned.

Kim and her brother-in-law, Tom Larson, bought it 11 years ago, Kim Wolter said.

She is the vice president working in the retail end of the business and Tom is the president of the company and handles the pool direction. Tom previously worked at Pentair, which provides high performance aquatic equipment.

“Mom continues doing the books and dad helps with advice. There’s something really neat about a family business,” she said.

That also means for pool and spa operations in the Midwest, summer is the time to garner the most business. As a result, the company is open seven days a week May through August with about 15 employees helping out. The store is open year-round, but fewer days and hours in the off-season with about six employees.

Part of the business growth included expanding the product line.

“In the early 1990s, we had one spa. We’d sell one and then get another one for display,” Kim Wolter said. As their popularity grew, more and more spas or hot tubs and saunas as well as a variety of pools were made available to customers.

One nontraditional sauna they sell is infrared heated and does not require moisture. “It heats the object not the room,” Kim Wolter said.

While the pools are still the staple of the business, spa demand has grown.

“We have steadily gotten more business and have partnered with companies that make quality spas,” she said. “Insulation in this climate, the frame and type of equipment put in them all matter.”

The business offers full service. Kim Wolter said they deliver and set up their products and show the customer how to operate them. For swimming pools, they also do liner, filter and pump replacement, winterizing, vacuuming and take care of other maintenance needs. They cover Rock County and part of Green County in Wisconsin and Winnebago County in Illinois. Summer hours are: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

In Janesville, DuWayne and Nancy Nelson own and operate Nelson’s HomeTowne Recreation Pools & Spas, 1700 Highway 14.

It is a family owned business that DuWayne started in 1985. He has been building pools since 1978.

“We opened our retail store in 2003 here in Janesville,” Nancy Nelson said.

Popular this year have been fiberglass swimming pools and swim spas which have brought a blaze of activity to the business.

“(They are) a wonderful choice for a backyard stay-cation,” Nancy Nelson said.

The Nelsons offer a full line-up of pools both above ground and in ground and hot tubs. They also offer free chemical testing (water analysis), toys and pool accessories including ladders, volleyball and basketball games and more.

“We move pool tables and hot tubs,” she said. “We offer retail sales, service of all our product lines including billiards and game room toys and accessories as well as weekly and bi-weekly pool maintenance. Many of our customers own a second or third home and want to come up to our wonderful state and sit back and enjoy.

“Our maintenance program allows them to do just that, relax. Our service department is a nest of activity this time of the year as we are a full service pool dealer with our focus on residential pools and spas,” she said.

The company has 14-16 employees during the summer months, and usually 10-12 in the winter months.

“While for many winter is the pool off season, we move into the game room with billiards, darts, ping pong, air hockey, foosball and so much more. Winter is one of the best times to enjoy our hot tubs and Saunas,” Nancy Nelson said.

Summer hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday.

In Loves Park, Rockford Pool & Spa is located at 8104 Forest Hills Road, about a mile south of the Rockford Speedway.

The company was started in 1995 out of a home in Rockford, said employee of 13 years, Tish Kaiser.

As business grew, owners Greg Altenbernd and Kevin Maurer later opened their Forest Hills location.

The business is open year round and features swimming pools and hot tubs as well as accessories for each and full service. They employ four people year-round and eight or nine seasonally, Kaiser said.

The area they service includes most of northern Illinois, including Rockford, Loves Park, Belvidere, Roscoe, Rockton and Winnebago.

Rockford Pool & Spa specializes in helping people open and close their pools for the season as well as getting them installed and set up.

“We strive for customer service and quality products,” Kaiser said.

Summer hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday –Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Rockford Pool & Spa is closed on Sundays.

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