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Bill Donaton, co-invented the safety swimming pool cover in 1957, after
a business associate complained about finding small animals drowned in
the waterlogged solid vinyl cover on his pool.
The key, Bill envisioned, was to create a new type of pool cover that would allow water to drain through, rather than collect. The first mesh safety swimming pool covers were marketed in Connecticut in the fall of that year, and an industry was born.
In 1977, Bill founded LOOP-LOC with five employees. Today, LOOP-LOC boasts a 190,000-square-foot headquarters in Hauppauge, New York, and 300 employees. The company has sold safety swimming pool covers on every continent on earth except Antarctica.
When Bill's daughter, LeeAnn Donaton-Pesta, took over as LOOP-LOC's President in 2001, it was particularly fitting, because she was literally the inspiration for the company. "My father's devotion to safety began when he noticed that, at just 20 months old, I was able to climb the four-foot chain-link fence around our house, leaving the pool area totally exposed," LeeAnn explains. "He realized that the best way to make swimming pools safe for children was to create a pool cover that could not be breached by a child. He dedicated himself to manufacturing the highest quality, safest pool covers on the market."
Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, Bill continued to make safety improvements to LOOP-LOC covers. Most significant was LOOP-LOC's GAPGUARD® and SAFEDGE® Child Safety Intrusion Barrier - a plastic extrusion designed to close the gaps created where the edge of the cover meets a raised obstruction. For this breakthrough, he received U.S. Patent #4,982,457.
Bill also led the efforts to create industry-accepted performance standards for the product line. In the early 1980's, he served on the National Spa and Pool Institute committee which, in conjunction with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), provided the Standard Performance Specification.
LOOP-LOC also took the lead in bringing the safety issue to the forefront for consumers. "For many years, the industry considered safety a negative to be avoided," LeeAnn says. "By bringing safety to the front and center of LOOP-LOC advertising, we showed that it could be a positive." The result was one of the most recognized advertising campaigns in the history of the pool and spa industry: LOOP-LOC's "Bubbles the Elephant" ads.
When Bill Donaton passed away in 2002, the industry lost a great leader and pioneer. However, LeeAnn reports LOOP-LOC's focus on its mission is as strong as ever. "Back in the beginning, my Dad hung a banner in the plant that read: 'The Cover You Make Today Could Save A Life Tomorrow,'" she said. "That same banner still hangs in our plant. Because that's still how everyone at LOOP-LOC feels about every safety cover we manufacture. No compromises, no excuses!"