The year was 1979 and the industry was abuzz. Spas and hot tubs were the hot new thing (pun intended), and rival trade associations and shows were springing up. A big question hovered over the pool industry: Should spas and hot tubs be brought into the fold, or left to function as a separate industry?
While “pool and spa industry” rolls off the tongue easily nowadays, back in the ‘70s they were two distinct industries. The National Swimming Pool Institute, as you can tell by its name, was geared toward pool professionals -- and we were called Pool News, though the magazine did cover spas and hot tubs.
Apparently things came to a head in 1979. Let’s look at some developments that led to the industry shift. Major hot water groups at the time included the American Spa Association, the International Spa Institute and the American Hot Tub Association.
ASA and ISI did battle with nearly back-to-back shows in California in ‘79. ASA slated its National Whirlpool, Spa, Hot Tub & Sauna Trade Show for March 5-7 in Anaheim. Approximately 1.5 months later, ISI and Spa & Sauna co-hosted the Hot Water Conference & Expo in Long Beach. At the same time, ASA and ISI were wooing hot water professionals to join their ranks. In April, ISI absorbed AHTA and became the International Spa & Tub Institute.
Wanting to become more involved with spas/hot tubs, NSPI joined in the fray, making a bid to take over management of ISTI. When its offer was rejected, NSPI decided to launch its own Spa and Hot Tub & Division and hold a spa show in Las Vegas the following year.
But wait, there’s more! Pool News became Pool & Spa News with the March 19, 1979 issue. Editor Fay Coupe explained: “For a publication to change its name is a very unusual step, and a lot of soul-searching went on before the decision was made. Obviously, it reflects our conviction that spas and hot tubs are here to stay, and that pools, spas and hot tubs are really part of the same family, even though each may have its own specialized interests and problems.”
The very next year, the National Swimming Pool Institute changed its name, too, to “National Spa & Pool Institute.” In 2004, NSPI became the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.