VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. - Spring weather is just reaching much of this country, but somewhere on the globe it is summer. And that's one of the things SwimWays Corp. is factoring in as it eyes growth in the years just ahead. The Virginia Beach company is a privately owned maker of Swim-Ways beach and pool toys and such water-sports items as kneeboards, wakeboards and bodyboards bearing the HydroSlide name. Wakeboards and kneeboards are towed behind boats. Bodyboards are used in surf.
Swimways employs 60-100, de-pending on the time of year. The kneeboards and wakeboards are polystyrene foam-filled while the other boards are rotational molded on two Akron McNeil ma-chines, said Fred Jones, production director. Some of its products come from vendors, he said.
The firm's annual sales are about $20 million and it expects an increase of about 35 percent this year, said David Arias, sales and marketing vice president.
The company's headquarters and plant previously was a warehouse belonging to Kransco Inc. of San Francisco. Kransco was acquired by Mattel Inc. in May 1994.
The Kransco water-sports operation was purchased at that time by Manny Arias, who now serves as president of Swimways.
The sales increase for this year will arise from a number of things, said marketing director Kelly Ge-bauer. She said there will be about 14 new products in the SwimWays line and four or five in the HydroSlide line. Also, the low-priced, high-volume Skurfer line of wakeboards, off the market for three years, is being brought back this summer. Gebauer said em-phasis on exporting also is expected to increase sales. She described increasing exports as a counter-seasonal move, and said the firm expects to boost exports quickly from their current, relatively small percentage of sales.
``We feel that has great potential,'' she said. ``It's always summer somewhere.''