By Jim McCloskey
I’m still stunned by news of the intended merger between the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. I’ve been a professional observer of the pool/spa component of the watershaping universe for more than 30 years now, and I was caught completely off guard by their agreement.
Theirs has been a difficult relationship through the years, as many rivalries are, and I’ve had the impression that not a whole lot had changed since I first began observing their interactions in the mid-1980s. But we live in times when the unexpected seems to happen with fair regularity, and I’m happy to step up and offer all parties my best wishes for success.
Not six months ago, I was similarly bumped sideways by NSPF’s agreement with Genesis. Once the dust settled there, however, it was evident that the two organizations were largely complementary in that they served different markets – but nonetheless had wonderful common ground in their respect for high-level educational programs. I soon began to feel better about their coming together; my sense at this point is, so far, so good.
With NSPF and APSP, however, I see lots by way of overlapping of missions, functions and roles, and I’m wondering how it will all get sorted out in the months to come. I see from the careful wording of the press releases that this is, at the moment, an agreement to agree and that there’s still much to be determined.
That in mind, I offer two modest, off-the-top recommendations as food for thought:
1) Please do whatever it takes to maintain separation between APSP’s educational outreach and the Genesis programs. The latter arose in 1998 as a direct, pointed challenge to what was then the National Spa & Pool Institute’s way of doing things, and to compromise Genesis’s independence at this point would, I think, be a substantial mistake with far-reaching ramifications.
2) Please do whatever it takes to get Genesis members engaged in APSP’s standards-generating process. For years, Genesis has made hay with its participants (and in the greater design community) by branding APSP’s minimum-standards approach as inadequate to the pursuit of excellence. This merger might represent a grand opportunity to reopen the process and see what can be done to raise the bar.
These two points reveal my utter and complete bias: I am inclined to protect and elevate Genesis whenever I can, if only because our mission and methods at WaterShapes have historically been so tightly aligned with the Genesis approach. Nobody involved in the APSP/NSPF negotiations asked my opinion, of course, but I’m concerned about turning away from 18 years of Genesis-fed progress in the name of the operational efficiencies of the combined NSPF/APSP entity.
There will be rough patches ahead, I’m sure, and I wish both groups well as they navigate the shoals and try to find clear water. But please, you who are playing your parts on behalf of NSPF and APSP, please be mindful of the significance of Genesis, consider what it has meant to the thousands who agree with its approach and, by all means, do what it takes to preserve its independence, credibility and value moving forward: Watershaping as a profession will be the better for it!