After more than 36 years, longtime BioLab executive and APSP office holder Charlie Schobel has left the firm.
Schobel, who was vice president/general manager of the Lawrenceville, Ga.-based chemical supplier will continue his work on the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Strategic Planning Committee through November and will attend the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo that month. After that he plans to try his hand at retirement.
“It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “I have no regrets. I worked with the best people at BioLab and the best customers ever.”
Schobel’s tenure with the industry giant began in 1975, when he joined the firm as a sales rep. A Georgia State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing and a master’s in business administration, Schobel first approached the firm in the early 1970s.
“I was selling small computer systems for a company called Victor and got with BioLab on a cold call,” Schobel said. “I just kind of walked in the door.” BioLab became his client, and Schobel helped develop the manufacturer’s first water-testing program.
In 1975, he took a position with the company, then run by BioLab founder Leon Bloom. Later, Schobel worked under longtime President/CEO Larry Bloom.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Schobel largely focused on marketing, first as director and then vice president of marketing. As president of global pool and spa, he played a key role in expanding BioLab’s presence in Canada, Europe, South Africa and Australia from 2002 to 2005. His other titles have included executive vice president; vice president, BioGuard and International; and vice president of government affairs.
“The BioGuard brand will be entering its 50th year of existence, and he primarily led the brand, helped develop [it], and has been through a large part of its global expansion,” BioLab President Jon Viner said.
Over his years with the firm, Schobel remained a favorite among retailers, who felt he continued to take a personal interest in their companies. “He’s not only been a friend, but he’s been a confidante at times when I needed business advice,” said Brian Quint, president of Aqua Quip Pools in Seattle.
Schobel also embraced the idea of serving the industry by participating in APSP leadership. In addition to several committees and councils, he sat on the Executive Committee, including as chairman of the Board of Directors in 2010.
“He leaves a mark on the association,” said Quint, another former APSP president. “He’s a very bright, experienced individual, and so when people with Charlie’s knowledge, style and background get involved, they make a difference.”
One of his most significant projects with APSP was Pool People USA, a group of manufacturers who consolidated funds and raised several million dollars to launch an industrywide marketing campaign to the public. “It helped us understand how to message pools better for future marketing on the Internet,” Schobel said.
In his tenure with APSP and BioLab, Schobel also actively participated in government relations initiatives. “He’s really helped the industry address some of the challenges that have come its way from a governmental affairs perspective to ensure that the industry is not restricted and can continue to grow and operate. ...” Viner said.
BioLab will not replace Schobel outright, but will have existing staff members take his duties, Viner said.
As for Schobel, he will pursue his hobbies of flying planes, as well as hot-air and gas balloons, and will increase his involvement in Angel Flight Soars, an organization that provides free air transportation to medical patients who can’t afford the travel needed for their treatments. He is a board director of that organization.