Vance Gillette, viewed by many as a visionary voice for the pool and spa industry, has decided to leave his full-time post at Zodiac Pool Systems Inc. Instead, he will act as a consultant for the firm.

Effective Jan. 5, 2009, the executive vice president of sales and marketing will leave the company’s day-to-day operations. He has signed a multiyear contract to serve as a consultant for the Vista, Calif.-based pool-equipment manufacturer.

“This allows me the chance to do all the things I love with Zodiac and pursue other opportunities that I’ve dreamed of,” Gillette said. “The thing that most excites me about my new role is [the fact that] I’ll be able to maintain the close relationships that I’ve formed.”

Gillette started in the pool and spa industry as a teenager in 1966, when he joined pool-cleaner manufacturer Arneson Products in its telemarketing department. In 1977, he joined Jandy and worked for the company as it changed hands to Teledyne Laars, Water Pik and now Zodiac Pool Systems, which is jointly owned by Paris-based aircraft and marine products manufacturer Zodiac Marine & Pool, and the Washington-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

Over the years, many have considered Gillette the face of Jandy. He was often called upon to give speeches at industry events, always encouraging the industry to “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” He’s written several columns for Pool & Spa News. Within these venues, he advocated many ideas before they became part of the industry’s mainstream dialogue — concepts such as promoting pools as a lifestyle; tying business into new-home construction; and thinking about the entire backyard, not just the aquascape.

He is forming a consulting firm called Gillette Consulting Corp., which will be based in the San Francisco Bay-area town of Novato, Calif. He plans to take on speaking engagements and provide sales and marketing consulting, inside and outside the industry, as well as internationally.

“With him being independent, he can give us an outside view of the industry and our company and strategies,” said David Nibler, vice president of marketing for the manufacturer.

Zodiac has promoted two people to replace Gillette and reorganized its national sales force. Scott Frost, a former vice president of sales, now will serve as vice president of sales, East. Tim Lawrence, a former vice president of sales on Jandy’s retail side, will be vice president of sales, West.

“From our standpoint, [Vance Gillette] has been a key part of our growth and strategy,” Nibler said. “What makes us feel better is that the people who are still here have grown up around him, so we’ll continue on the same path.”

Nibler himself, as well as National Accounts Manager Barry Greenwald, also will take over some of Gillette’s former duties. “It takes four or five to replace Vance,” Nibler added.

Zodiac’s sales team used to be divided into retail and construction divisions, but now is split into East and West sectors, in response to many companies being active in both construction and retail.

As a consultant to Zodiac, Gillette will assist with trade shows and conferences, interface with key customers and help the company with marketing plans and strategies. He will report directly to Zodiac President/CEO Bob Rasp.