Case Studies

J. Tortorella Swimming Pools Inc.

Few boundaries for these pools, hurricanes included

While studying marketing at the New York Institute of Technology, John Tortorella spent his summers cleaning and installing swimming pools on Long Island. At the time, it was just a way to pocket some extra cash. John says he had no plans to turn it into a career.

In fact, when he graduated in 1981, he was busy preparing for interviews with marketing firms in Manhattan. That is, until a real estate broker he knew, named Frank Zaperach, gave him the idea to start his own swimming pool installation company.

J. Tortorella Swimming Pools Inc.

“Frank was very disappointed with the lack of quality companies in the [swimming pool] business, and he assured me that if I didn’t like it after one year, he had enough contacts in New York that he could get me a job in the marketing field,” John says.

So with a single pickup truck and only two employees, John started J. Tortorella Swimming Pools Inc., a pool construction and maintenance company based in Southampton, New York.  While starting a business right out of college might be a nerve-wracking experience for some, John says once the idea was in his head he had no choice but to run with it.

“Besides, after I started [the company], the growth was so rapid that I had very little time to think about ‘what ifs,’” he says.

In the first three years, J. Tortorella Swimming Pools grew an average of 30 percent per year. By 1986, John’s company was building 80 pools a year.

“The word spread about the quality of product we were supplying and the timely manner in which we got it done, which really solidified us as the go-to pool builder in our area,” he says.

Today, the company has two locations, 170 employees and specializes in building specialty pools, such as free form, geometric, infinity and indoor pools, as well as spas and water features for high-end luxury homes in the Hamptons.

Pools outside the normal boundary

J. Tortorella Swimming Pools was one of the first companies to build negative and rimless pools in the Hamptons.

Negative edge pools are designed to give the impression that the water has no boundary because it flows uninterrupted from one corner of the pool to the other. Rimless pools are designed to look as if the water is merging into the surrounding ocean or landscape.

J. Tortorella Swimming Pools Inc.

When John started his company, most people didn’t know about these types of pools. John says he was drawn to the idea of designing and building something outside the normal purview, and he soon found clients who felt the same way.

In 1990, the company installed its first rimless pool in Southampton, and quickly learned the challenges that come with innovation. For instance, rimless and negative edge pools require very specific hydraulics and leave no room for even the slightest change in elevation.

“It is extremely difficult to do these types of designs without the proper experience,” says John. “But if they can imagine it, we can design and build it.”

“If the edge is off by one-eighth of an inch, you will have more water running off one side than the other,” says John. “We had to build them by trial and error, but we took our lumps and learned fast.”

Over the years, the company used this same approach in learning to build suspended pools, which are elevated on piles and grade beams, as well as pools with 50- to 125-foot slides and others with viewing windows built into clients’ basements or rec rooms.

To this day, however, John says rimless and negative pools are by far J. Tortorella Swimming Pools’ most popular designs.

In April 2017, the company even combined the two concepts by building a 168-foot negative edge pool with over 220-feet of rimless edge. The resulting pool is close to 4,000-square-feet in size and holds almost 120,000 gallons of water.

“It is extremely difficult to do these types of designs without the proper experience,” says John. “But if they can imagine it, we can design and build it.”

Storm-proof pools

As the projects got more interesting, so did the materials.

Today, J. Tortorella Swimming Pools builds pools with stone from all over the world, including black absolute granite from Africa, Wenge stone from Asia and Pedra Gris from Europe. Many of these materials are provided by ABC Stone, a stone supplier with offices in Brooklyn, New York, and Westbury, Long Island, that specializes in everything from material selection to fabrication.

“J. Tortorella are the best in the business and they expect the same level of quality that we do, so we’re always excited when we have the opportunity to work together,” says Director of Integrated Marketing at ABC Stone, Lyndsey Belle Tyler.

John says clients enjoy using these exotic materials because they add new levels of luxury and design to the finished pool. However, using high-quality materials is about safety as much as aesthetics.

“These pools are mostly built on oceanfront properties, so they have to withstand hurricanes and dune erosion,” he says.

J. Tortorella Swimming Pools Inc.

In 2012, the company’s pools were put to the test as Hurricane Sandy ripped through the eastern seaboard, devastating homes from Florida to Maine.

Caught in the middle on Long Island, John remembers the effect the storm had on waterfront homes and properties across the Hamptons. “There were numerous pools in low-lying areas that were not built with the proper hydrostatic relief valves, causing them to pop out of the ground,” he says.

But those built by J. Tortorella Swimming Pools were still firmly in place, with minimal damage and barely the worse for wear.

For John, nothing beats knowing his work can survive a superstorm.

Published on: July 6, 2017


categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in US Builders Review” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


Spring 2018



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.