Responding to the industry downturn, the Master Pools Guild focused its annual meeting on generating new business.

The event was held Oct. 15-18 at the Queen Elizabeth Fairmont in Montreal.

“The market’s going to turn around, and those companies that are still moving forward [will] be first in line for the upswing,” said Dick Covert, executive director of the Richmond, Va.-based builder group. “You have to be positive and look at how to keep your company moving in the right direction.”

To help their own firms do this, MPG introduced a variety of new programs.

In a move designed to gain visibility for members, Master Pools expanded its partnership with Frontgate catalogs. The large, high-end retailer will continue to highlight Master Pools projects in its catalogs and Web site, and include members’ contact information.

“Every time we’re in there, we get exposure to 13 million prospective customers,” Covert said.

In addition, Master Pools members now can sell products from Frontgate catalogs and receive commissions. “It would be just like retail, except you don’t have to handle the product. [Members will] sell it out of a catalog,” Covert said.

The guild also has entered into a contract with a printing company that will help expand the choice of marketing materials for members. Under the new agreement, if one MPG member likes a brochure or pamphlet used by another, the printer can swap out the company name and photos. The Master Pools logo will be included on most pieces.

“This way, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time,” Covert said. “And the guild doesn’t have to inventory anything.”

On the research front, Catch Your Limit Consulting, a marketing firm based in Tallahassee, Fla., unveiled the results of a survey commissioned by Master Pools. The study looked at the effectiveness of MPG members’ marketing strategies and use of the guild’s brand.

“They found out that we have recognition, but within our own membership, we still need to work to get them to use [the Master Pools brand] in their marketing,” Covert said.

Master Pools Guild’s spring meeting is slated for March 11-14 in Nashville, Tenn. Its 2009 annual meeting will be held Oct. 14-17 in Denver.