How did you get started?
I was a student at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. We were a group of young people who were keen to resist projects that we felt endangered or disrupted natural harmony. We wanted to create something new for the protection of our environment. Our business initially produced garden ponds and one day I met a client’s daughter and she asked me why she wasn’t able to swim in the garden pond as she really wanted to swim with nature. This was a good question and a huge moment and turning point for me. I started to think about the idea and work out how the water could be filtered to make it pure enough to swim in but remaining perfectly natural and ultimately this led to the birth of the first natural swimming pool.
Why do you think Biotop has been a success?
That time – nearly 30 years ago now – we had discovered a market niche and were the pioneers of natural swimming pools and our customers were trendsetters and the time was right for a new swimming experience in private gardens as people no longer wanted to swim in chlorinated water. Environmental awareness has developed greatly since then and so the market has grown across Europe and the World. Our success has been based on our constant R&D into our products. We may be market leaders but we don’t want to stand still. We try to find new and innovative ways to create pools. Over time we have developed the Living Pool which allows clients to have a contemporary minimalist natural pool design as an alternative to the original planted pond style pools. Recently we have developed conversion systems to convert an existing chlorinated pool into a natural pool. So we are constantly looking at our clients and developing new ideas. It maybe 30 years since we invented pools but we are still pioneers in many ways.
What's the best thing about your job?
Essentially, we sell products that make people happy. Even when I meet clients many years after the construction of their natural pools they tell me how much they still enjoy their pool. That is a huge compliment and is great to hear. Every pool is tailor-made for a client’s garden and so that keeps our job interesting and varied, we are not just churning out the same pools each time. Also the commitment of our employees to the company and our philosophy is very high. That makes me proud too.
And the worst?
As a company with our partners around the world, we have built more than 4,000 natural pools and ponds. As every natural pool is an individual piece of design, I would really like to be able to see them all. But I don’t have the time. That’s a real pity.
What do you do to unwind?
I like to go jogging and cycling. If the weather is ok I used to cycle to the office. My dog is a quite elderly now and could not make the entire route anymore. So I have a trailer attached to the bike which he can sit in and this is a good workout. At our head office near Vienna we have 4 natural pools so it’s good to have a pool at the end of the trip to jump into before my office day starts.
What does the future hold professionally?
There are still relatively untapped markets in Europe like Sweden or Finland that are ready and waiting for our products. The US market is also a big challenge we are taking on. Of course we will try to achieve more market shares in the UK. I know the British people are really very tough and they often swim at low temperatures when we Austrians would need a jumper. But for those clients who would enjoy a slightly warmer temperature in their pools, we are right now developing a sustainable solution which we will introduce to the UK market soon. So watch this space!