SPEC needs money.
The California Spa and Pool Industry Education Council has been the industry’s statewide lobbying group since 1973. The
organization has influenced decades’ worth of legislation
under the direction of longtime President/CEO Don Burns.
But SPEC, much like the industry it defends, now finds itself in
a financial quandary.
The group runs on an annual budget of approximately $350,000,
among the lowest of all lobbying groups doing business in
Sacramento, according to Burns.
Currently, donations are trickling in, but the pace is hardly
sufficient to support SPEC’s efforts. As of Dec. 17, the
group had collected $143,700, well below the mid-fiscal year
target, Burns said.
Burns concedes the group’s financial struggles are nothing
new, but this year is especially tough.
“We’ve always had problems trying to raise
money,” he said. “But today we’re fighting the
same battle that everyone else is fighting — the
For some, SPEC’s staying power is a very real concern.
Officials quietly worry about the group’s finances and
mobility at such a critical time for the trade.
“It’s a matter of survival right now,” said
Vance Gillette, the group’s treasurer, who also is a
consultant with Zodiac Pool Systems in Vista, Calif.
“There’s a litany of adverse legislation that Don
fights,” he added. “I’d hate to think where our
industry would be without SPEC.”
According to Gillette, the problem may be twofold: “I
don’t think the industry truly understands what SPEC does,
and I don’t think it realizes what the state of California
would look like without SPEC.”
One example he cites is a fencing ordinance in Orange County
that had slipped into the 2003 state Uniform Building Code. It
mandated four-sided fencing on all new pools, as well as those at
homes being renovated, sold or rented to new tenants.
SPEC officials helped compel the county Board of Supervisors to
unanimously rescind the law, arguing that localities could not
deviate from the state building code without meeting certain
criteria, which Orange County did not.
“We have a good-sized industry with no other ally in the
halls of government,” said Cecil Fraser, CEO of Swan Pools in Lake
Forest, Calif., a Pool & Spa News Top Builder and SPEC
supporter. “SPEC has really worked to educate legislators on
a number of these ill-conceived regulations. If we don’t have
SPEC, we don’t have representation.”
For more information or to donate to SPEC, visit www.calspec.org.