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The president/CEO of Zodiac Pool Systems Americas is stepping down.

Bob Rasp, a member of the company’s management team since 1994, will be succeeded next month by Calvin Johnston, who comes to the pool industry from Galls, a Lexington, Ky.-based division of Aramark Uniform and Career Apparel.

“I told myself that when the time was right, I wanted to buy my own company, or companies,” Rasp said from his office in Moorpark, Calif. “And by mid-March of this year, I let [Zodiac Marine and Pool CEO] Yves Dominioni know I was ready to resign.”

Rasp’s move adds to a period of transition for one of the industry’s leading manufacturers. Late last year the company announced a restructuring of management around the time Vance Gillette departed from day-to-day operations as executive vice president of sales and marketing.

With months of advance notice, Zodiac officials conducted a comprehensive search for Rasp’s replacement, said David Nibler, Zodiac vice president of marketing in Vista, Calif. Johnston was selected for his strong background in consumer marketing, as well as his experience working in Europe for Russell Athletic prior to his term at Aramark.

For a multinational company with product lines manufactured and sold in the United States and Europe, Johnston was a logical choice, Nibler said. He added that Johnston’s background meshes with Zodiac’s interest in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.

Johnston has been communicating with Rasp regularly in the weeks since his selection, officials said.

“He’s a quick study — and he asks all the right questions,” Rasp said. “That was really the board’s and my goal: to have him hit the ground running and make the hand-off as seamless as possible.”

Rasp’s pending departure had been a closely kept secret for months, but the news is traveling quickly throughout the industry.

“Bob was a good competitor,” said Carlos Del Amo, director of marketing at Pentair Water Pool and Spa in Sanford, N.C. “In this kind of environment, and for a company of that magnitude, change is inevitable. I’m sure his people are going to miss him.”

As for his next venture, Rasp is in the early stages of researching companies for potential acquisition. He said he’s leaning toward a manufacturing company (or multiple companies) that would be too small to take offshore — something business to business, he added.

But he knows it won’t be a quick process. “People have told me to expect a year on average before closing the deal,” he said. “But I’m excited about it, and they’re all excited for me here.”

Rasp will remain a management shareholder of Zodiac Marine and Pool, which is owned by private-equity firm The Carlyle Group.