The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has hired a replacement for outgoing President/CEO Bill Weber, who retires Dec. 31.

Richard Gottwald, a 26-year veteran in association management, starts in APSP’s Alexandria, Va., office Sept. 16. Weber will continue in an advisory capacity until the end of the year.

“I am excited to be a part of APSP, building on the great strides made by member volunteers throughout the years,” Gottwald stated in a press release. “Together we will strengthen the relevance of APSP to the industry, and we will extend that relevance to our industry’s products in consumers’ minds.”

Gottwald leaves his post as executive vice president of the 2,300-member International Sign Association after six years with the group. He originally joined ISA as vice president, technical affairs and education. For nearly 20 years, he participated in the plastics industry, first with the Society of the Plastics Industry for 12 years, then the Plastics Pipe Institute as its president for six. He was a product research engineer with the Dow Chemical Co. for three years and holds a Bachelor of Science in plastics engineering from University of Massachusetts Lowell.

APSP leadership sees the organization in a different phase than it was eight years ago, when Weber first began in his post. Where Weber is an attorney with a strong financial background, the search committee focused on two key attributes in his replacement – strength in consensus building and experience expanding industry visibility.

“It’s a different time and there are different needs,” said APSP Chairman Steve Gorlin. “When Bill came on, we had just emerged out of bankruptcy from NSPI to APSP. We had just sold the show, and we were spending a lot of money at that time. Bill was hired really to put a tourniquet on our spending and turn the ship around.”

Now, he said, with bankruptcy, litigation and, it is hoped, recession in the rearview mirror, the organization is set to focus on the next phase. This includes incorporating a new organizational structure that was announced earlier in the year. In November, the Board of Directors will be reduced from its current 24 positions to nine, with more of the work to be performed by task-specific committees, some of which will only exist until the job is completed.

“We now have a strategic planning process in place that engages a whole lot more people from all around the industry,” Gorlin said. “So that type of environment for Rich to walk into is going to be fertile ground for someone who has a vision and the experience that he has as a consensus builder. It’s just the perfect storm.”

With the Plastics Pipe Institute, APSP said, Gottwald led an industrywide public relations campaign to gain acceptance for plastic pipe in construction. “The sentiment is that we as an industry have done a poor job promoting ourselves out to the public,” Gorlin said. “Rich has experience in that regard. He believes he can help us and point us in the right direction.”

He also expects Gottwald’s technical and regulatory experience to come into play for the association. He streamlined ISA’s advocacy efforts to focus on local code issues, and in his year with the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, helped elevate the organization’s standards program among standards organizations and regulatory agencies.

“I think he’s a great fit,” Weber said. “I think he’s going to have the support of everybody -- volunteers, staff and myself – who will do anything we can to take this organization to the next level.”