California pool and spa industry advocate SPEC hopes a new alliance will help strengthen its standing across the state.
The agreement, announced July 1, calls for Florida-based
association management firm Visioneering Consultants Inc. to guide
SPEC’s board of directors and fund-raising efforts.
“It was time to bring SPEC into the modern era,”
President/CEO John Norwood said. “We really have to be the
front for the industry, and this will help us put SPEC back on the
map and in front of people’s eyes.”
SPEC’s board approved a year-long contract with VCI, Norwood
said, though the agreement could be extended if the marriage proves
fruitful. Under terms of the deal, Mitch Brooks, CEO of Port
Charlotte, Fla.-based VCI, will serve as executive director of
SPEC, reporting to Norwood.
“Mitch obviously has a lot of credibility through his work
with the National Plasterers Council, the Florida Swimming Pool
Association and others,” Norwood said.
Indeed, the move comes at a critical time for the Sacramento-based
advocacy group. In addition to a mushrooming underground economy,
California pool and spa professionals face an ongoing litany of
water conservation and budget-related taxation issues.
As a lobbyist, Norwood has managed to clear a number of potential
legislative hurdles since taking over leadership of SPEC in July
2009. But in terms of membership and fund-raising, the
group’s hand-off from founder and then-CEO Don Burns
couldn’t have come at a tougher time.
The California market remains among the nation’s hardest-hit
pool-building regions. And an always active legislature means
SPEC’s advocacy efforts can ill afford a drop-off in
In addition to boosting the group’s membership and balance
sheet, VCI is charged with developing SPEC’s directors into a
more traditional governing board as opposed to the staff-driven
model that guided SPEC in the past. VCI also will help the board
write a clearly defined strategic plan outlining its objectives
over the next two to three years, Brooks said.
“We truly recognize that SPEC is vital not just to
California, but to the entire country as far as its task and
mission,” Brooks added. “This was something that, when
the opportunity arose, we felt obligated to do for the benefit of
the entire pool and spa industry.”