It's a fact…life just gets busier and crazier by the minute. For more and more Americans, the shower is an oasis, providing an escape from the pressures and stresses of everyday life. While relaxing in a tub or whirlpool bath sounds wonderful, it simply takes too much time in most cases to fill the tub and then to soak. Instead, a growing number of homeowners are working with trusted wholesalers and contractors to take the flexibility and speed of showering well beyond a basic single-spray showerhead and create customized shower systems that deliver an in-home spa experience everyday.

People take showers at different times of the day for different reasons: in the morning to wake up and get ready for the day; in the afternoon to clean up and feel energized after a workout; in the evening to unwind, relax and renew. Water itself - in just the right combination of volume, flow, temperature and coverage - defines each showering experience. Shower spa systems can deliver water in a variety of ways to accommodate a range of personal showering preferences for one person or a household; hence their allure continues to grow among consumers.

When remodeling a bathroom or building a new home, homeowners often prefer to design their own customized shower system or “vertical spa,” both to fit the available space and to meet their showering needs and desires. The vertical spa options available include single or multi-function showerheads, hand showers, rain showerheads, multiple showerheads and body sprays, often with coordinating style “suites” of sink faucets and bath accessories to complete the whole, polished look of a spa. Transfer shower valves enable simple shifts between these showering functions or even combinations of favorite selections. Advances in temperature control technology have equipped most vertical spas with pressure balancing (to prevent surges in hot or cold water pressure) while some even offer thermostatic controls that maintain water temperature at a personalized setting throughout the shower experience.

Since these custom spa configurations are not everyday decisions for most people, savvy wholesalers and contractors can guide homeowners through these spa choices, helping them to layout and outfit almost any shower space - with one, two or three walls included in the system. The arrangement and combination of vertical spa components is virtually limitless. Some manufacturers even offer common valve systems, making it easier for the wholesaler or contractor to offer the option of future style updates without replacing the whole valve.

While all these component combinations may sound complicated, the latest vertical spa systems deliver on customization flexibility without losing sight of the need for straightforward installation. By consolidating the number of components, streamlining installation steps and guides, reducing the need for wall knockouts, and adapting the shower systems to standard household piping and drainage, installations are now much easier than with first-generation shower spa systems. Some custom shower configurations, such as the Moen Vertical Spa, now create a luxurious, high-volume, full-coverage feeling in the shower while using less water, thanks to ingenious engineering that uses standard 1/2-inch plumbing. There really is no need to install additional or multiple water tanks or complex, larger capacity drainage systems (unless desired) since water flow is optimized at standard gallon-per-minute consumption. While the installation of a vertical spa is not unnecessarily complicated, particularly for an experienced contractor, the average homeowner nonetheless will require professional help to create the desired customized shower configuration.

The real opportunity for wholesalers and contractors is to cultivate a strong relationship with the homeowner by providing value-added expertise, not only in the selection of vertical spa components but obviously in the installation as well. The wholesale showroom provides a unique venue for displaying the possibilities of a vertical spa to homeowners. Combined with the skills of a showroom design consultant to educate and guide decision-making, the showroom experience is a vital ingredient in building credibility and trust with the homeowner that hopefully culminates in a purchase and installation. Kim Bickish, showroom consultant for Robertson Supply in Boise, Idaho, says, “Once customers talk with us and see the possibilities for a vertical spa, they can't wait to have one. This is especially true for people building new homes and even for those willing to do a heavier remodeling project in an existing bathroom. It's great for our business to be able to offer these options to our customers.”

Perhaps the best news of all for wholesalers and contractors working with a homeowner on a new home or bathroom remodel is the potential profitability for their business from shower spa configurations. Because the homeowner is seeking the personal luxury of a shower spa system, price is much less a consideration than for more basic shower replacements or remodeling projects. Says Bickish, “Our customers come into our showroom knowing what they want and they're willing to pay for a little luxury. We can help them create the showering experience they've dreamed about.” The selection of a shower spa, particularly for a new home or a substantial bathroom remodel, means that the homeowner places higher value on contractor expertise to install a uniquely customized system. As a result, the contractor has better, more justifiable markup opportunities for providing these unique services and capabilities.

Recent innovations in functionality and installation have made customized vertical spas a much more practical personal indulgence for many remodeling or new construction homeowners. Wholesalers and contractors can seize this business-building opportunity by working with homeowners to bring their vision of an alluring customized spa within reach, even with appropriate markups for expert consultation and installation.