As the New Year dawns and uncertainty remains, the big questions about the future far outweigh the answers. While editor Eric Herman freely admits that his own crystal ball has been on the fritz for the past two years — as he points out — knowing what we don’t know, as well as what we do, has value in assessing the road ahead.
By Eric Herman
If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that predicting the future has become both hazardous and nearly impossible.
Prior to March 2020, no one would’ve seen the onset of a worldwide pandemic, an event that has colored our lives for nearly two full years. The supply shortages, the overwhelming surge in demand for pools, the white-hot housing market, the labor crunch, and the impact of aberrant weather have all been exacerbated by that nasty family of viruses with the now-famous alphanumeric name.
So, now we charge headlong into an uncertain future in which there are many burning questions, and some certainties, as well.
For example, no one knows if the problems with the supply chain will continue. I’ve heard and read prognostications on both sides, some seeing a return to normalcy this year, with others predicting that shortages and extended delivery times will persist.
Nor do we know what Mother Nature will throw our way. No one could’ve possibly predicted the deep freeze in Texas last year and the catastrophic power outages that resulted in widespread damage to pools and plumbing systems of all types. Will the fires in the west continue to be an issue? Will drought persist? Will we see more tornadoes and violent storms, extreme hot and cold?
Will the housing market continue to see steep price increases and equity growth that fuels expensive home improvements? Or will the bubble burst? Will homeowners continue to migrate away from the cities into outlying areas where the at-home work and living environment have become evermore prevalent, and valuable?
Will the shortage of skilled labor continue, or will the supply finally start to rise to the demand as people finally go back to work? Again, it’s impossible to know.
And, over all these questions remains the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Will advances in vaccines and treatments for the infected reduce the impact of the virus, or will new variants continue to cause surge after infectious surge? Don’t we all wish knew the answer to that one!
That’s quite the truckload of uncertainty and cause for anxiety. Fortunately, from the watershaping perspective, there are some things we do know for sure.
There is no doubt that humans will continue to seek out water, in their private lives and in public settings. Our industry has the distinct advantage of providing a family of products that have positive impacts on our lives, and that is not going to change.
Swimming and other aquatic activities foster physical and mental health, they always have and always will.
Water presents risk factors. This too will always be the case, whether it’s child drowning, suction entrapment, biological hazards or diving accidents, our industry will always need to contend with the inherent dangers of mixing people and water.
Education will remain the key to future watershaping success. With the aforementioned labor shortage and a new generation of young professionals entering the industry, quality education and training will continue to increase in importance.
On that front, you can count on the fact that this venerable publication will continue to provide informative and inspiring information about the wonderful world of watershaping. Likewise, WaterShape University will continue to lead the way with the finest education available in the industry.
(If this last prediction is somewhat self-serving, guilty as charged, but it also happens to be true.)
Finally, we know that as an industry, and indeed as a society, as is always true, we will need to rely on each other and care for our fellow people. We are our greatest resource and cause for hope and optimism.
I truly believe that will never change!