In 1979, Joe leased a vacant Big Boy restaurant and converted it to a swimming pool store.  In the competitive world of retail pools, chemicals and spas, Aqua World stood out from the rest with elaborate displays on a busy street corner. 

At the time, hot tubs and spas were sold as do-it-yourself kits. Selling spas in this manner was difficult so one winter he decided to create a new design that was easy to install.

Joe ordered the smallest fiberglass spa shell available from his manufacturer along with the plastic mini-jets.  The pump, heater, blower and filter components were not a problem because he always had ample parts in the store.  His goal was to build a freestanding, self-contained, 110-volt tub with an enclosure that would hide the plumbing pipes and operating system. 

Plumbing the jets with ridged PVC pipe was not easy however, using an array of plumbing elbows, he completed the task. A pool pump and cartridge filter were installed to keep the water clean. 

The next question was, how to heat the water? A standard gas swimming pool heater was not practical for interior use. To find a solution he went to the local Detroit Edison office to check out electric water heater elements. He purchased several 110-volt elements that would be small enough to fit inside a one and one-half inch pipe.

On his first try, he installed the heating element directly inside the PVC pipe.  He thought it would work okay as long as water was running through the pipe when the heater was turned on. He was wrong as the pipe quickly melted and ruined the element. He tried again only this time the element was installed inside a section of galvanized steel pipe. This worked fine but it took several days to heat the 180 gallons of water in the tub. In another attempt, he used a small secondary pump to circulate the water through the heater. The pump and heater were connected together on a single 110-volt switch. The water was hot within a day.

One evening as he decided to take a relaxing break in the warm water, another problem came to mind. The electrical power switches were hanging on the side of the tub’s enclosure. Water and electricity don't mix. The next day, with a few micro-switches, miniature homemade camshaft, carburetor vacuum choke and a turkey baister, he created the air-switching concept used today.

One day, the owner of Joe’s hot tub supplier stopped by to see how the project was going. Mark was amazed and asked if he could contact other companies about the discovery. Throughout the following summer, Joe assisted three major hot tub manufacturers develop the portable spa.  

A game of Billiards anyone!



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