The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals expects to begin its search for a new chief executive officer next year.

Bill Weber, who has served as president/ CEO of the national organization since 2005, plans to retire when his current contract expires at the end of 2013.

“This is just the natural order of things,” Weber said. “I’ve enjoyed this immensely, but for me, it’ll be time. We’re planning accordingly, and I think we’ve got enough time to do that.”

Weber was hired by the Alexandria, Va.-based association’s board of directors to replace outgoing Chief Staff Executive Jack Cergol. APSP had emerged from bankruptcy less than a year earlier, and Weber was brought on to help lead the transition that included a new name (for decades it was the National Spa & Pool Institute) and substantial organizational changes.

Since taking over, Weber has guided the trade group through a period that included passage of the first-ever federal pool and spa safety legislation, the crash of the U.S. housing market and subsequent recession, and a massive drain-cover recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in spring 2011.

Within APSP, Weber is credited with overseeing the launch of the Career Institute, promoting cooperation with regional trade groups and associated industries on legislative and regulatory matters, and helping gain widespread acceptance of building and design standards.

“When he was brought in, Bill really fit that niche of how to transition from what we were to what we wanted to be,” said Kathleen Carlson, past board chairwoman of APSP and vice president of Seattle-based Aqua Quip.

“He was somewhat of a change agent,” she added, “and one of the most important things he’s done is try to make sure the industry speaks with one voice. He’s been that even-keeled person who understands there are times when compromise will bring a better result in the end.”              

At present, APSP is engaged in a strategic planning initiative that should help dictate how the association operates over the next decade, said Board Chairman Joe Amato, who is also president of Amato Industries in Silver Spring, Md.

The group’s leadership, with input from outside consultants and research firms, is reassessing APSP’s direction in a number of areas, he added, including advocacy, membership and education programs. Based on its findings, the association’s board expects to have a clearer picture of “where we need to be and who we need to captain that ship,” Amato said.

“Right now we are a lot of things to a lot of people, and we have to streamline that and become a little bit more focused,” he added. “But the idea is to have someone in place well before Bill exits. And we want to get through this part first because that will provide direction as to what we want to look like. We’re just going to see what this process shows us.”