After retiring early as a senior executive at Tyco, Myrtha Pools USA’s CEO, Kevin McGrath, realized he missed the business world. So he joined Sarasota-based Myrtha Pools USA, which has built two swimming pools for this year’s Olympic trials in Omaha and the water polo pool for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Why did you choose Sarasota for your U.S. outpost?
We’ve been here since 2000, and we picked Sarasota because it’s a nice town. We also looked at New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles. We’ve been in this location [One Sarasota Tower] for seven years, but we’re actually looking for a bigger facility because prices are good right now.
How did you start winning Olympic contracts?
Myrtha is a division of A&T Europe S.P.A., in Italy, and they manufacture our pools. A&T has been involved in international pool building for a lot of years. They built Olympic pools for the games in Rome in 1992, and we’ve been doing them ever since. Every high-level competition pool is generally a Myrtha—our presence is worldwide and spans the gamut. But not even 1 percent of our business is [building pools for competition]; we concentrate more on permanent aquatic centers.
What new technology does Myrtha employ, especially for the Olympics?
We’re very precise. We measure to exacting dimensions to create very fast pools that are within one millimeter of the site specifications. We also have the ability to build temporary facilities to exact measurements that can be disassembled and moved to a different location, and that hold larger amounts of people. The pools that we built for the Omaha trials would normally take eight months to put in; we can do both in 12 to14 days. Our gutter and recirculation technology allows for a very fast pool and creates less turbulence in the water. We have Olympians and an Olympic coach on our staff who help us with the sport side of it all. But the most important thing in the pool is the fast swimmers. More world records have been set in Myrtha pools than any others.
What challenges do you face?
They have to be installed quickly. They have to hold millions of gallons of water and not leak. The water has to be chemically perfect and an exact 81 degrees. Plus, you have to take into account the architectural structure of the site, health codes, the U.S.A swimming regulations and our own standards. There are two parts to this business—the sport and the design.
What’s been your biggest on-the-job thrill so far?
To see something like this come to fruition. It happens in such a short amount of time-it's like performing a ballet during halftime at the Super Bowl.