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Better Serving Local Communities Through A Salvation Army And Sentry Partnership

Better Serving Local Communities Through A Salvation Army And Sentry Partnership

After experiencing a multitude of issues with their water heaters, The Salvation Army partnered with Sentry to resolve the issues for good.

Today, Kroc Center Capital Renewal Plan Manager, Ross Wheeler, explains details about the partnership, including how Sentry implemented successful solutions, and how those solutions have had a wave of impact on the organization and local communities alike.

Identifying The Problem

Around 2011, The Salvation Army commissioned seven Kroc Centers in the Southeastern United States. 

Four of the seven Kroc Centers that The Salvation Army commissioned had natatoriums with leisure pool space and spa/hot tubs for general public use. 

The water heating systems that were commissioned at the time the buildings were commissioned for these natatoriums had a horrible record of performance, with a very low mean time between failure (MTBF).

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The existing water heaters had a constant negative impact on the organization in many ways. This equipment was slated as the best-in-class water heating technology available at the time. However, these “Best in Class” water heaters created the following challenges:

  • Constant unplanned outages and pool closings due to water heater failures
  • Loss of membership and or revenue due to the inability to maintain consistent water temperatures in the leisure pools and hot tubs
  • A constant maintenance and repair burden on the facilities maintenance staff
  • Unplanned capital expenses for repairs very early in the assets useful life cycle
  • Exorbitant gas utility expense to operate the inefficient water heating equipment
  • Pool liner staining due to minerals being extracted from the direct contact of pool water and the heat exchangers making the white pool liner appear stained and dirty

Discovering The Solution 

Wheeler explains, “The solution to the organization’s latent pool water heating challenges came to us incidentally while exploring options to replace the pool filtration systems in December 2019. During this time, we met the Sentry Valve team, and we were introduced to the Sentry pool water heating system.”

The Sentry team shared the “new technology” or “New Class/Category” to heating pool water, and explained how they were confident that they could solve all of the water heating challenges mentioned above.  

Wheeler said the team knew immediately that they wanted to install one of these heaters at a pilot site to “test drive” the operations and performance of this new technology.  

They also knew that going from a Yugo (existing heater) to a Tesla (Sentry heater) would take a strong business case and rational to justify a slightly larger upfront capital expenditure in a non-profit operations arena.

Applying The Solution

Fast forward to April 2021, when The Salvation Army was able to purchase and install their first Sentry brand water heater at the Kroc Center in Biloxi, MS.

The installation of this new equipment was very simple, and installed with minimal impact on the Kroc centers members/patrons and staff.  The footprint of the new Sentry equipment takes up less floor space than the equipment that was replaced.

Examining The Results

The benefits of The Salvation Army’s new equipment were almost immediate. The first observation was that the pool water temperatures were no longer fluctuating, and the water temperature was remaining constant.

The second observation was that the new heater continued to deliver trouble-free operation after a few weeks, with no actions required, while the old heaters would have failed, flamed out, or simply broke down during that time period. 

The onsite facilities management team now has additional time, without the need to tend to a failing water heater. Members are happy, due to constant water temperatures and not to mention — no more unplanned pool closures! 

Wheeler explains, “We were so pleased with the immediate results, that moving forward with installing this Sentry equipment at additional Kroc center sites was no challenge. We proceeded with installing the equipment at additional sites, not yet knowing the full extent of the long-term benefit that would soon be discovered.”

The new Sentry heaters have reduced gas utility costs for the Biloxi Kroc Center by an average of $1,500 per month in gas utility expenses.  

“We expected savings, just not on this order of magnitude,” Wheeler says. “A $1,500 a month savings for a Kroc center is transformational to say the least.”

The Sentry Brand water heaters have been in service for one year now. During this time of one year, The Salvation Army has not experienced one outage of service; not once has any of the pools with the Sentry brand heater been shut down unexpectedly due to a water heater being out of service. 

“The Sentry Brand heaters have made an exponential positive impact not only on the pool operations, but the heaters have also created efficiencies that are impacting how the entire Kroc Center operates to then better serve to local communities,” Wheeler concludes. “We truly treasure our partnership with Sentry Valve!”

October 31, 2022