In a bold move that could have far-reaching impact on the way many dealers in the pool and spa industry do business, Zodiac Pool Systems has announced that it is prohibiting internet sales for the Jandy Pro Series, a line that includes more than 400 products.

In a Sept. 28 press release, Zodiac announced that the change is a continuation of its “trade series policy” it established in 2014, in which the company altered its warranty program in favor of the trade. The new policy, which dramatically expands that level of support, and its enforcement, will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

According to the release, Zodiac is implementing several measures to enforce the policy, including not providing a warranty on products purchased online and requiring equipment to be installed and/or serviced by a qualified pool professional. The company has also established a dedicated team that will monitor the internet to catch companies that in violation of the new policy.

“We want to see this industry thrive for generations. Our decision to prohibit the sale of over 400 Jandy products online, along with our enforcement of the new Trade Series Exclusive policy, will help level the playing field for pool professionals, making them more competitive and supporting their long-term success,” says Michelle Kenyon, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience. "We are putting our commitment to the pool professional into action, and while we expect it to take some time to clean up the internet, we have invested in the necessary resources to do so and are ready to go all in.”

To support the initiative, Zodiac announced it is working to raise consumer awareness about the crucial role of industry professionals play in helping meet consumers’ equipment needs. That effort will include directing pool owners to industry professionals using a database that’s searchable by zip code.

Whether or not the new policy will inspire brand loyalty amount industry professionals remains to be seen. According to dealer David Hawes, president of H&H Pool Service and current president of IPSSA, it’s a bold step in support of the service industry.

“In IPSSA, it’s a comment we hear all the time: the biggest competition isn’t the service company down the street but internet sales,” Hawes says. “This is definitely a statement that service companies are important to them and it’s an excellent move from the service perspective. Of course, no one knows how it will all shake out in terms of the market and how people purchase equipment. I do hope that people who have complained that internet sales are hurting their businesses are going to take a serious look at how this manufacturer is supporting the industry.”

Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.