For the first time in seven years, Jim Manning won’t be
leading the way for the United Pool & Spa Association.
Manning, the group’s longtime executive director, recently
stepped down to devote more time to his swimming pool education and
“It was just time to move on,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the level of membership and excitement
isn’t where it was before the economic downturn. But
that’s true for a lot of associations, not just UPSA. And I
never intended to do this forever.”
Tampa, Fla.-based UPSA caters largely to commercial pool
contractors and associated businesses. Its activities include
education, networking and advocacy for a membership that in recent
years has encompassed engineers and residential pool builders.
In addition to boosting the group’s ranks, Manning’s
duties included holding continuing education seminars, coordinating
fund-raisers, and working with UPSA’s lobbyist in
Tallahassee, as well as with state and local regulatory
At the moment there are no immediate plans to name a successor,
said UPSA President Jeff Clarkson, owner of Florida Bonded Pools in
“That could change over time,” he said, “but
right now we’re not actively seeking a new executive
Still, the coming months should give the trade association plenty
on which to focus. The group’s four-day annual cruise departs
for the Western Caribbean on Sept. 30; UPSA’s two-day Meeting
Expo takes place Nov. 3; and an educational program for commercial
pool builders on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
that launched last year is expected to restart in the first quarter
But perhaps most pressing for the organization is helping to
beat back Amendment 4, which goes before Florida voters Nov. 2. The
proposed ballot initiative, nicknamed “Hometown
Democracy,” would require citizens to vote — during
referendum elections — on all changes to local government
comprehensive land-use plans.
Opponents argue the amendment will prolong the state’s
recession by increasing taxes and contributing to unemployment.
Supporters contend it is needed to protect against unwanted
“It’s basically a plan for no growth,”
Clarkson said. “We think it’s going to discourage
investment in the real estate markets here. And I’m concerned
about the money that it’s going to cost to run these
elections. I haven’t been able to find any positives in