Quality Over Quantity
James Sankey & Associates, LLC uses hands-on approach to do it right, the first time
Jim Sankey knows pools. He got his start in the business working for a pool service company during college, a venture that helped pay for his education and led to a long career in award-winning pool design. He opened his own company in 1979, a residential pool business that evolved into commercial pool design for hotels, senior living communities and apartment/condominium complexes.
In 1985, Jim formed James Sankey & Associates, LLC (Sankey Pools), which has provided swimming pool design and consulting services to architects, engineers, owners and general contractors in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland since its inception.
Sankey Pools specializes in elevated mid- and high-rise pools, ranging from indoor and outdoor pools for hotels to million-dollar athletic facilities, as well as spas, therapy pools, saunas and steam rooms. The team delivers a hands-on approach in every stage of the pool-building process, with a focus on attention to detail and personalized service. The goal is to do just what the company’s slogan says: Done Right. The First Time.
Providing All Pool-Related Services In-House
Jim, who serves as President, says his company is different from its competitors in its ability to tackle all stages of the pool building process, from inception to engineering and design to the electrical, mechanical and plumbing aspects of construction. “This is an advantage my competitors don’t have,” he explains. “Most pool contractors only handle limited design-build tasks. But we can do everything needed for the pool—controls, lighting, heating, energy and chemical management, excavation and plumbing.” And, he adds, completing these functions in-house saves his customers time, money and headaches.
The company’s work begins with a careful evaluation and discussion of the customer’s needs before Jim and his team begin transforming those concepts into a design within the client’s budget parameters. The team addresses every aspect of design, construction, operation and maintenance, including circulation, filtration and sanitation, and collaborates with structural engineers to ensure the product is not compromised. Sankey Pools’ team also coordinates with local health and building departments early in the design process to assure timely approval of the permits required to construct and operate a facility.
The team takes pride in providing quality construction services. Since Jim believes in servicing what his company sells, he will only build pools in areas where the company can logistically provide maintenance/repair services. This way, his team can be on call to address any problems that may arise during or after construction. “We answer our phones seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Jim says. “Many times, we can help a customer troubleshoot via FaceTime.”
Jim stays on the cutting edge of pool building and design, including aquatic features, such as fountains, fishponds and other water features; chemical automation; filter systems; and maintenance/repair/renovation. The company maintains affiliations with industry organizations such as the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA), the Electrical Association of Philadelphia, American Institute of Architects and the National Plasterers Council. The company is a recipient of many industry awards, according to Jim, including recognition in numerous categories from the PHTA, NESPA and ABC Keystone.
In 2017, Sankey Pools’ team completed a rooftop infinity pool for the Dalian on the Park apartment community in Philadelphia that overlooks the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and offers views of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The team won an Outstanding Achievement Award from NESPA for this project, in addition to a merit award and a gold award for the pool’s safety cover, according to Jim.
Most recently, the team completed an indoor pool and spa at the Allegro Harrington Park senior living facility in Harrington Park, New Jersey. The facility was built to be accessible for all residents, featuring a built-in ramp, custom handrails and an ADA-compliant chair lift that serves both the pool and spa.
Jim is also proud of pools his team recently built for the Rydal Waters at Rydal Park senior living community in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and The Metropolitan housing complex in State College, as well as the total pool facility renovation it completed for the Holiday Inn Williamsport in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Regarding the Holiday Inn project, Jennifer Locey, Vice President of Operations at Chartwell Hotels, says, “James Sankey & Associates brought knowledge, experience, integrity and a proven track record to this project. Their vision helped save our company thousands of dollars in demolition and months of inconvenience for our guests.”
A Personal Approach
Jim is joined by three other staff members, Vice President and Project Manager Jeff Myers, Project Manager Tim Keiper and Project Architect Mitchel Abramowitz, who serves the business in a consulting and mentoring capacity. The company completes approximately 10 to 15 pools each year.
Jim prefers his company’s small size, stressing that his hands-on approach and long-standing relationships with staff and long-term subcontractors are what makes the company so successful. Sankey Pools only accepts as much work as it can handle and still offer personalized service from sales through completion. “We pick and choose our projects because we’re very hands on. We don’t just manage. The same guy who sells the pool will be involved throughout the building process,” Jim says.
Customer Vincent P. Celenza, President of C&C Construction Management, Inc., says, “The personal involvement in working within our budget and overseeing every aspect of the installation is second to none and did not go unnoticed.”
Commitment to Quality
Sankey Pools’ hands-on approach helps the team ensure quality control throughout construction, and Jim says his customers can rest assured knowing that their pool will be built on time, within budget and by competent and qualified people. “We get it right the first time,” he says. “No one makes money by going back and fixing something later. We aren’t perfect, but we strive for zero-defect construction.”
In order to achieve the highest quality construction, Jim uses what he considers to be the highest quality materials: American-made materials as much as possible and only Pentair pool products. He is proud that his company is a Pentair factory service center and a commercial distributor. “They are the best in the business, and in customer service also,” he says.
Jim strives to build pools that are easy to operate and maintain. “That’s my job,” he says. “Customers are making a substantial investment already. They want the pool to run itself and be as hands-free as possible.”
“The swimming pools that Sankey Pools creates are of the highest quality workmanship,” says customer Justin Shelton, President of Springwood Hospitality. “During each project, the company demonstrated extensive knowledge of the latest pool installation and operating techniques. I always know what to expect from a ‘Sankey pool.’ Any issues that arise are always handled with urgency and care.”
With a commitment to superior quality, design and service, Jim’s goal is the same with each pool he builds: to get it done right, the first time. “We’re small compared to our peers, but we represent quality,” he says. “We do our job, and we do a good job. We’ll get it done, and we strive to leave every job without a punch list.”