The Independent Pool & Spa Service Association is expanding into Oklahoma.
Slated to become official in mid-June, the Oklahoma City Chapter will mark IPSSA’s second foray into a new state this year.
“The more places we get into, the more we can make IPSSA a recognizable name,” said Lane Clark, chairman of IPSSA’s Expansion Committee. “We’re trying to promote professionalism in the industry. That’s what we’ve always done.”
This February, IPSSA opened a chapter in Cumming, Ga., approximately 40 miles north of Atlanta. A chapter serving the Atlanta metro area is expected to launch later this year. The organization’s Region 11, composed mostly of Florida chapters, also hopes to expand its 130-member ranks over the next few months.
“We’re in the process of trying to get West Palm Beach and Northport (Punta Gorda),” said Region 11 Director Todd Starner. “We also have interest in Melbourne, Ocala and Jacksonville, but those are still developing.”
If growth continues as planned, IPSSA will have a presence in at least seven states by the end of this summer. And the group’s directors have no intention of stopping there.
A chapter in Colorado Springs, Colo., is in the preliminary stages, and still more regions may be in the works. “I’ve had people show a bit of interest in New Jersey, and some in Indiana,” said Phil Sharp, director of IPSSA’s Region 9 (Texas). “We’ve been getting noticed on a national level.”
Though IPSSA members remain optimistic about the possibility of nationwide growth, the organization’s own structure may impose limits on its expansion rate. Basic to IPSSA’s culture is “sick route coverage,” in which technicians team up to cover the route of a member in their area who’s too ill to work. But service pros in some regions are suspicious about the idea of others covering their routes.
“The wonderful aspects of IPSSA are also those that constrain our growth,” said Ray Arouesty, president of Arrow Insurance Service in Simi Valley, Calif., which has been IPSSA’s insurance provider for more than 28 years.
“There’s a culture in IPSSA that’s centered around sick route coverage. One of our biggest problems in some of these areas is that our culture is so foreign to non-IPSSA members.”
Cultural barriers aren’t the only ones: Awareness of IPSSA remains low in states where the group lacks a significant membership.
“Out in California, you go into a distributor [location] and there are IPSSA signs everywhere,” Clark said. “But when you go into distributors in Georgia, for instance, they don’t have a clue what IPSSA is.”
Bringing in IPSSA members from other states may help raise that awareness. And, ultimately, a new chapter’s success depends on its proximity to other existing chapters.
“IPSSA guys really need to live the culture, which is about helping the others,” Arouesty explained. “And that necessitates a physical closeness between the new chapters and the existing ones. We have a business model … a plan in which our IPSSA culture can be taught.”