By Jim McCloskey
I’ve just returned from the 2016 International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo – a bit tired but, as usual, satisfied with the experience. As I had hoped, I enjoyed lots of conversations about future articles and an unusual number of chats about advertising and sponsorships. Also, the show took place in New Orleans, so I had a few too many fantastic meals and shared just the right number of great bottles of wine.
Other than a nagging sense that I need to shave off a few recently gained pounds, two big thoughts come to the surface when I think about my latest visit to the Crescent City:
[ ] Although I was marginally disappointed that the process of merging the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals isn’t quite so far along as I suggested it might be in my November 2 blog, I am nonetheless impressed by what I see as the emergence of a good organizational and philosophical infrastructure.
In that blog (click here), I reported that the avowed purpose of the gathering of industry leaders was communication about the NSPF/APSP unification process, followed by discussions of “opportunities for market growth and of ways to work together for individual prosperity and the common good.” As I mentioned to NSPF’s Tom Lachocki a couple days after the meeting, it’s important to put agenda item number one behind us so we can focus more steadily on agenda items two and three: They represent the real meat and potatoes that almost certainly prompted thoughts of unification in the first place; they are also issues the industry has had trouble addressing for all 31 of the years through which I’ve been an interested observer and an occasional activist.
I don’t know the current crop of folks at APSP the way I did the staff and directors of the old National Spa & Pool Institute in the early 1990s, but I remain confident that, like those I once knew so well, they’ll do what it takes to negotiate successfully and align themselves with NSPF – another cast of characters with which I am only glancingly familiar but who all seem earnest and sincere about making the new relationships work.
The main reason I want unification to move along sooner rather than later is that these organizations clearly need each other to build and manage the bridges required to focus the entire industry – pool and spa, commercial and residential, members and non-members, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, builders and service professionals – on issues that matter.
I continue to be impressed by the ongoing efforts I see: The information currently being gathered and processed is of real importance to the future of watershaping. My one hope is that the process finds momentum in the weeks ahead and really get moving!
[ ] I have been encouraged to declare this high level of optimism about the unification process because I’ve watched what’s been happening as NSPF has taken my comrades at Genesis under its organizational wing. I’ll confess that I was skeptical when I heard the news about their merger a year ago, but if what I saw at this year’s Expo is any indication, things are going quite well: Educational sessions in the convention center’s classrooms were well attended, while seminars and short courses on the show floor were generously populated and well received. All seems on a steady, upward course.
My concern has been that, with Brian Van Bower and Skip Phillips stepping into new roles as Ambassadors for the program they co-founded with David Tisherman in 1998, the continuity that has always marked the Genesis approach might somehow wander. I don’t get a sense that this is happening, and – no offense to Skip and Brian – I’ve actually come to like the thought of the torch being passed to a new generation of leaders.
I’m sensitive to what goes on with Genesis not only because WaterShapes and Genesis were started within a couple months of each other in 1998, but also because, from the beginning, we’ve shared core value systems and basic philosophies when it comes to watershape design, engineering and construction. I like that, and it motivates me to stay involved and help when and where I can.
As I see it, participation of this sort is my ticket to the future of WaterShapes.com. It makes me want APSP and NSPF to push past all of these transitions in the shortest possible time so we can all march together toward brighter horizons.
Maybe you should get involved, too.