Alka Pool Construction Ltd.
Brothers Rocky, Larry and Amedeo Sovernigo founded Alka Pool Construction Ltd. (Alka Pool) in 1961. “They started off building houses,” says Carla R. Sovernigo, Larry’s daughter and current president of Alka Pool. “Then they threw in pools, and eventually they dropped houses.”
Carla and her cousin, Rafaelle, purchased the business from their fathers in 2008. Though Rocky left the business to pursue other ventures in 1971, the founding fathers continue to be involved with the company today. As Carla jokes, “They’re too Italian not to show up to work.”
Carla credits her father with establishing a direction for the company. “He was really the visionary in the business,” she explains. “He standardized practices, improved the quality of our construction, and finished products because really understood the need for a company to offer more than a cookie-cutter pool.” Alka Pool has since found a niche in high-end luxury pools for residential clients, along with quality pools for the company’s commercial and semi-commercial clients.
The company is a member of the Master Pools Guild, a network of the world’s finest pool builders. According to Carla, the company has received endless support from the Master Pools Guild, which offers members educational and promotional opportunities. “The guild and its members have been instrumental in helping us develop and turn out an increasingly better product, run a better business and be better corporate citizens,” Carla elaborates.
The Alka Pool team specializes in custom pool design and construction services. The team offers services ranging from private residential customers looking for a stylish, efficient backyard water feature to a sleek lap pool in a residential strata tower to commercial pools for the local communities. Another portion of the company’s projects involve pool and spa construction at upscale hotels and resorts.
No matter what the project may entail, each client’s needs are the focus in the pool design. “We custom-tailor a pool for the client right down to an assortment of pool finishing materials and plumbing and filtration systems,” says Carla.
Alka Pool builds spas and water features that are often integrated into the pool’s design. The spas are also custom-designed in various shapes and sizes. In addition, the company’s water features include natural-looking rock waterfalls as well as classic and modern fountains. The team at Alka Pool will even customize a spa seat to ensure water heights and jet locations in order to deliver maximum relaxation and enjoyment.
Carla says many of her residential clients are very private and include well-known business executives. So, as one could guess, many customers often request multiple bodies of water. “We’re working on a project in a client’s backyard with a pool, a whirlpool and two water features,” Carla says. “That’s very common for us.” She then goes on to explain that many customers have been favoring all tile pools with glass tile or a pebbled finish, Alka River Rock, which are more luxurious than white plaster finishes.
Evolving Trends and Practices
Aesthetic features are always adapting in the luxury pool industry, and the team offers specialized finishes to complement clients’ homes and properties alike. Currently, the market is favoring Alka Pool’s attractive tile work, custom-blended colored quartz plasters and river rock plasters. The plaster finish is applied pneumatically for a higher-density finish. “We’re the only ones in British Columbia we know of applying plaster pneumatically,” says Carla.
The Alka Pools team also offers stone tiles, as well as glass and ceramic tiles, which allow customers more flexibility in color and texture, as all tiles need to be suited for use in pools. “All of the tiles we install have to be frost-proof,” says Carla. “Even though it’s mild here on the west coast, we still get freezing temperatures in the winter.”
According to Carla, many homeowners are opting for a more natural look. “They want their yard to look like an inviting natural outdoor landscape,” she says. Alka Pool custom-blends its own mix of colour quartz, creating different colours to suit each individual yard. The team also combines faux rock to create a true oasis for the ultimate backyard vacation spot.
Emerging trends utilize coloured quartz plaster or pebbled plaster rather than glass tile. Coloured quartz plaster is a smooth plaster finish, where the plaster base is dyed to the desired colour, and flecks of quartz are added for additional colour. Whereas the pebbled plaster finish, River Rock, is a textured plaster finish where the plaster base is dyed to the desired colour and pebbles are added for additional colour and texture.
Alka Pools employs 16 people year-round on average, taking on extra help during busy seasons. Carla and Rafaelle have carried the family attitude established by their founding fathers through to the current generation of ownership. “We’re very family-oriented,” Carla explains. “Our employees are our family, too. We adopt everybody.”
The team performs most work in-house; this includes a vast majority of the specialized plaster finishes work. “We do sub out excavation, decking, some tile and electrical,” says Carla, adding that the company prefers a trusted set of subcontractors. “We know we can count on their quality of work,” she says. “If they’re not available we will bring someone else in, but only through references and recommendations. At the end of the day, quality is what’s really important.”
The team’s precision has won Alka Pool numerous awards, both nationally and internationally, including the Grand International and J. Renn Olenn safety awards. The team’s 50 years of success led to an additional 24 awards in 2011.
It hasn’t always been easy, though. Alka Pool has weathered recent dips in the global economy. “We are very blessed to have loyal customers and talented employees, when that’s the base of your business you can weather a lot,” says Carla. “Our focus is on our customers, and this has allowed us to build a reputation of service in higher-end pool construction.” According to Carla, the last time she performed a client survey the company had an 87-percent referral rate. “We aim to please our clients.”
The company is also taking steps toward greener practices. “Right now there’s a trend in UV sanitation systems,” Carla says. “Saltwater pools have been popular, but UV is much more environmentally friendly and easier to maintain.” The system utilizes powerful UV light to kill harmful bacteria and microorganisms, largely reducing the use of harsh chemicals.
According to Carla, the team has begun promoting more environmentally friendly pool products, and is working toward the use of recycled and low-impact materials for the construction process. “One thing we have always done at the company is install the most efficient hydraulic systems in our pools,” she says. “It’s the foundation of our pools, not just a recent fad for us. High-efficiency systems conserve energy and save money for pool owners over the long run.”
Customer satisfaction is the No. 1 priority at Alka Pool. Therefore, Carla and her team walk each client through the planning and construction process from site assessment up through the finishing touches. Fifty years of paying attention to detail and collaborating with clients has produced an amazing portfolio of stunning and easily maintained pools for Alka Pool Construction Ltd., and the company will continue to put forth all efforts to further this legacy.