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Robotic pool cleaner and supply company SmartPool now is under the direct oversight of founder Joe Dubrofsky. At the same time, the Lakewood, N.J.-based manufacturer also has named Marchal DePasquale its new vice president of sales and marketing.

“Marchal is one of the people out there who really understands the strength of our new technology,” said Dubrofsky, who in early 2010 re-assumed the role of CEO of the firm he established in 1997.

“The category has grown tremendously in recent years,” he added, “and our goal now is just to increase our share of the robotics business.”

Aftermarket products account for 95 percent of SmartPool’s business, Dubrofsky said, and the robotics segment represents about three-quarters of that. So it makes sense the company would tap an industry veteran such as DePasquale, who for the past decade was director of marketing for Hayward’s aboveground pool business segment.

He also owned several pool supply stores in Texas prior to joining Hayward, so DePasquale brings another dimension of expertise in the aftermarket, Dubrofsky said.

Recent reports have shown an across-the-board lift for robotic cleaners. According to a survey by Pool & Spa News released in late February, more than half of service professionals polled believed the products have grown in popularity over the past two years. The reasons behind the trend are many. Some simply like the idea of a cleaner that operates independently of the pool’s hydraulic system, while others point to recent models that have been engineered to clean free-form pools more effectively, which has helped spur growth. Those on the front lines agree.

“I think sales of robotics cleaners are going to pick up because of ease-of- operation and cost factors,” said Alicia Rudd, manager of Swimming Pool Superstore in Longview, Texas. “They’re always coming out with newer and better models, which is good for the consumer and good for business.”