A new strategic plan for the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals recently was approved by the Board of Directors. It focuses on creating an environment for APSP members’ companies to grow, and protecting their ability to do business. APSP said that would entail “engaging in consumer outreach and ramping up regulatory advocacy at the national, state and local level through chapter revitalization and expansion.”

PSN caught up with Rich Gottwald, APSP’s president/CEO, to learn more about the plan.

He said there will be a concerted effort to work with chapters on local issues, from licensing requirements to codes. “It’s key that we engage our chapters [because] the pool business is a local business,” he said. “We’ll be looking to align staff and general resources to [help them].”

To assist people in connecting on a local level, the association might suggest some new approaches more in line with today’s lifestyles. Perhaps members could connect via WebEx meetings, or for lunch, or maybe even on the golf course. “We have to find a new way for people to engage with their peers,” Gottwald said. “The monthly dinner meetings are an old model and [organizers] can’t get people to come to them.”

Gottwald acknowledged that APSP has a “very weak presence” in some areas and that re-energizing chapters and setting up brand-new ones is important. In fact, he was set to travel to Sacramento next, to see about that. “California is critical to us – it’s a huge pool market and it has an influence in the pool and business worlds,” Gottwald said. “Florida is one of the major pool states, too.”

On the legislative side, APSP has signed up with Stateside Associates, a monitoring system that provides daily updates on nearly every jurisdiction nationwide, Gottwald said. When there’s action afoot pertaining to the industry, APSP can alert chapters and, if they care, they can “engage the troops.”

There’s also a clear need to grow the market. “That’s what all the members are saying,” Gottwald said. “The best way is to reach out to consumers and show them why it’s so great to own a pool. … We’re going to step up and do what we can to change consumer attitude [in favor of our industry’s products].”

In the days ahead, he said, the board agreed that he should go out and develop the strategic plan. The first week of June, they will approve a budget and a more detailed plan.