George Williams, a 40-year industry veteran who’s held prominent positions with several major manufacturers, has joined the executive staff of Carecraft.

“It’s a great hire,” said Sandy Vollentine, a board member for the San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based buying group, and also president of Ocean Quest Pools in Austin, Texas. “He’s going in a great direction that opens up avenues we haven’t been exposed to in the past.”

Named vice president of the organization, Williams is charged with expanding Carecraft’s vendor selection to include non-pool-related backyard products, such as equipment to build outdoor kitchens, ponds and putting greens.

Because he will work predominantly from his home in Jacksonville, Fla., he also will help members and vendors in the Eastern United States.

“I’m happy to continue my career with the pool industry, which I respect and love,” Williams said. “The industry is experiencing major challenges ... and I hope I can assist to enhance Carecraft members’ bottom line results and future member relationships.”

A chemical engineer by training, Williams entered the pool and spa industry when he joined Hayward Pool Products in 1971. He started as sales manager and moved up to become vice president of sales and marketing. He left the company briefly to work for Spanish equipment firm Astral Products, now called Fluidra, but returned a couple of years later. After being employed at Hayward for a total of 30 years, Williams moved to robotic pool cleaner producer Aqua Products, where he served for six years. Aqua Products eventually was purchased by Fluidra, and Williams left the company in April.

With Williams available, Carecraft President Greg Howard created a new position playing to his strengths.

“George is a degreed engineer, so he’s very technical and knows pool products really well,” Howard said. “If we were going to look at a new type of product, George is ideal for evaluating things.”

By establishing partnerships with more backyard-product vendors, Carecraft officials expect to help members increase their ability to develop turnkey operations, offering features such as fireplaces, pizza ovens, televisions and sophisticated outdoor lighting.

By bringing such vendors into the Carecraft fold, Vollentine said, members hope to gain more than cost savings. “If we can get directly with the manufacturers,, we can have better access to education that would help us go into [total backyard design and construction],” he said.