Under the Orlando sun: Returning to the Orange County Convention Center in mid-February, the 2015 Everything Under the Sun Expo boasts booths and seminars galore. (Photo courtesy Florida Swimming Pool Association)
Under the Orlando sun: Returning to the Orange County Convention Center in mid-February, the 2015 Everything Under the Sun Expo boasts booths and seminars galore. (Photo courtesy Florida Swimming Pool Association)

One thing about the Everything Under the Sun Expo – it’s typically upbeat, and this year promises more of the same. The show, which focuses on pool, spa, solar and outdoor living, returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 12-14.

“Florida people love our show,” says Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association. “We had a great show in 2014, and I expect 2015 to be as exciting.”

She notes that the event isn’t just a hit among Florida folks. Southeast industry professionals are regular attendees as well. “These people are working on pools 12 months a year. This is a great opportunity for them to meet with sales reps, and for networking,” Parker Barsell adds.

The setting for the 2015 show is West Hall D2, due to construction at the convention center. While that will mean a slightly smaller number of classes, the lineup is impressive and several new seminars were already creating some pre-show buzz.

The educational program, which is free to FSPA members, includes mandatory courses required by the state, and more targeted sessions for pool and spa builders, retailers and service technicians, as well as solar professionals and others.

The 106,000-square-foot exhibit hall will be filled with approximately 300 booths displaying the latest industry products and services. Parker Barsell expects attendance to stay steady, between 3,000 and 4,000. Admission to the show floor is free for FSPA members.

Rounding out the event will be other popular activities, such as drawings for cash — the longer you stay, the more chances you have to win. And there’s the Awards & Welcome Reception on Thursday, and the Industry Party on Friday. Parker Barsell says the latter has been known to attract more than 900 participants at a new location, and this year the soiree moves to Café Tu Tu Tango, so it may well draw a big crowd. Tickets should be purchased in advance.

For online registration, visit www.underthesunexpo.com; for information about Orlando attractions, go to www.visitorlando.com.

There’s always a heavy emphasis on education at this show, and no wonder. Florida’s licensing requirements make continuing education a must. Organizers made sure the seminars offer Florida CILB credit — indeed, the only exception is the U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Certification Training Seminar, which is not for credit.

Kate Vella says there’s always a little more interest in new courses, and there’s certainly been anticipation regarding the 19 new classes this year.

There’s considerable interest in the “FBC Advanced Module: Entrapment Protection” session, notes Vella, industry specialist for FSPA, handling education and membership. She says another technical seminar, “Convert Existing Pools to Multiple-Speed Pumps and Controls,” was the largest class last year, so it has been expanded to a two-hour format for 2015.

Four new, retail-specific courses are on tap for the show, Vella adds. “Retailing in the Age of Technology” and “Store Layout & Design” are back to back. There’s also “Retail Store Basics for Success” and “Four Keys to Building a Top-Performing Team.”

Builders no doubt will be drawn to classes such as “Construction Quality and Contractual Liability”; “Basic Electricity for Pool Contractors”; “Chapter 489 - An Overview of Contractors’ Responsibilities”; and “Site Specific Safety Plans,” to name just a few.

Service technicians will find seminars aplenty, such as “Basic Pool/Spa Water Chemistry and Testing”; “Advanced Pool Chemistry and Troubleshooting”; “Hydraulics for Service Contractors”; “Motor Troubleshooting and Replacement”; and “General Liability Basics for Pool and Spa Service: VGB and Beyond.”

The business-oriented seminars include “Effective Collections Techniques”; “Managing for Profitability”; “Customer Loyalty is Priceless”; and the “15 Things All Successful Companies Have in Common Workshop.”

Many no doubt will be interested in the sessions about workers’ compensation for the pool industry, workplace safety, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, and the Florida Construction Lien Law.

Also on tap are the Learning Labs (formerly known as Hands-On Education) in the exhibit hall, where you can learn about manufacturers’ products from those who know them best — the manufacturers themselves. These sessions run Friday and Saturday afternoons, and are free for FSPA members; $10 for nonmembers.

For a fun setting for the gala Awards & Welcome Reception, it’s hard to beat the Hyatt Regency Orlando’s upper pool deck. Rather than being in the usual hotel ballroom, industry professionals can celebrate outdoors on Thursday night, Feb. 12.

Starting at 6:30, FSPA will recognize industry leaders for their work in 2014. Design award winners, the Person of the Year and FSPA Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. Attendees will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

This year’s Industry Party is at a spot that critics call Orlando’s “most entertaining dining experience.” At Café Tu Tu Tango, food and libations are served in “a setting reminiscent of a Spanish artist’s loft.”

The gorgeous handiwork of local artists is everywhere. For $25 admission, you’ll enjoy an open bar, free food and live music on Friday, 6-10 p.m. Tickets may be bought when registering for the expo, or stop by the FSPA booth in the exhibit hall.

Thursday, Feb. 12
8 a.m.-5 p.m.

9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Show registration open

6:30 p.m.
Awards & Welcome Reception
Hyatt Regency Orlando

Friday, Feb. 13
6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Show registration open

8 a.m.-10 p.m.

10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Exhibit hall open

12:30-5 p.m.
Learning Labs
Exhibit hall

2-5 p.m.

6-10 p.m.
Industry Party
Café Tu Tu Tango

Saturday, Feb. 14
6:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Show registration open

8 a.m.-12 p.m.

10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Exhibit hall open

12-3 p.m.
Learning Labs
Exhibit hall

Note: Events take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., unless otherwise noted. The information provided is the latest available at press time.