By Jim McCloskey
I know that I promised to start a string of blogs on my likes and dislikes in watershape design, but the news from the Genesis 3 Design Group about Skip Phillips and Brian Van Bower parting ways with David Tisherman must jump to the head of the line.
I have watched these three gentlemen at work, separately and together, for more than 25 years. Brian was kind enough to befriend me very early in my tenure as editor at Pool & Spa News — shortly after tearing into me during an NSPI board meeting for the way the magazine had reported on some obscure political doings in the region he represented at the time.
Skip and I similarly crossed paths through NSPI, where his rapid rise through the ranks to become the association’s president made him something of a media star. To this day, I recall and admire the way he handled himself when Sally Jessie Raphael failed in her attempt to use him to score emotional points against pools at a time when child drownings were very much in the news.
I met David in person only late in my career at P/SN — again through NSPI — but I had spoken with him on several occasions and was impressed by his work as well as by his earnest conviction that nobody else working in residential pools and spas was operating anywhere near his level. Ever the artiste, he had a ponytail to go with a distinct swagger when I first met him.
At the same time the three of them were coming together to form Genesis 3 in 1998, Eric Herman and I were preparing WaterShapes for its launch in February 1999. As I have told many people through the years, I called Vance Gillette in August or September 1998 to let him know what we were planning, and he immediately suggested calling David, Skip and Brian. As I told him at the time, those were the three names on my initial contact list just below his — and the rest is history.
My reaction to the news that David is no longer part of Genesis 3 is one of disappointment rather than shock. I have watched them struggle mightily to keep things balanced and moving forward for many years, and if there has been any surprise, it’s that they managed to hang in there as long as they did. If nothing else, they should be applauded for having held it together through all those years.
I am sure that the press release Brian and Skip sent out was more diplomatic than it was forthcoming and that we’ll never know all the details of the breakup. And I am sure, given the outsized personalities involved, that there will be a natural tendency among those close to the group to take sides as things settle out. Truth be told, it might get dicey for a time.
Personally, I don’t want that to happen. I would rather dwell instead on the achievements of Genesis 3, the tremendous benefits it has brought to watershaping and the countless alliances and friendships I have formed through years of association with David, Skip and Brian.
They face a tough road, but I hope Skip and Brian can make things work without David and that David will find ways to continue his contributions to the industry’s growth and artistic development. There may be awkward patches ahead, but I choose to raise a glass and say, “Here’s to new beginnings!”