The Pool Industry Expo is marking its 30th anniversary the way it knows best – by offering a combination of products on the show floor and trade education in the classroom. Co-director Don Koss said the event is returning to the Monterey Convention Center, which is undergoing renovation this year while hosting trade shows such as PIE.

Founded in 1987 with 30 exhibitors, PIE has come a long way. This year, it runs Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, and organizers are forgoing hoopla to focus on presenting the kind of high-quality event in a popular setting that pool/spa service technicians, builders and retailers have come to anticipate year after year. After all, it is known as the “education vacation.”

“We’re expecting at least 3,000 to 4,500 exhibitors and attendees,” said Koss, who shares director duties with Bill Hoy. PIE has included more than 130 exhibitors in the past, though final numbers for 2016 weren’t available at press time. “We have five or six new exhibitors this year,” Koss noted, “and, as usual, the major companies will be exhibiting.”

As always, there’s a strong emphasis on education at PIE, which offers 35 sessions on everything from business to technical classes for 2016, including two in Spanish (hydraulics and heater installation/troubleshooting). Among the expected standouts is the water chemistry class led by Terry Arko. Another one sure to garner interest is PG&E’s Certified Aquatic Equipment Installer Training Course, taught by FPSIE’s Michael Orr. Koss added that Ray Arouesty’s session on how service technicians can avoid being sued for every pool-related problem may well prove to be a hit, too.

As for other activities, the pre-show golf tournament is on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Nicklaus Club – Monterey. Formerly known as the Pasadera Country Club, the 18-hole championship golf course was renamed in 2013 after its designer, golfing great Jack Nicklaus. The tourney fee is $150, according to Koss.

And we can’t forget the daily giveaways -- a spin of the wheel, the announcement of the winning raffle number and, if the winner is present, the awarding of a cash prize. On Thursday, Sept. 29, the prize is $500. If the winner is absent, the money rolls over to Friday and $1,000 is given away. But if the winner is a no-show that day, another number is drawn on Saturday and the winner can choose to take the cash or a trip to Hawaii.

When all is said and done, Koss concluded, “We really work at picking the right classes and making the show as enjoyable as it can be.”

Mission accomplished.