The original executive director of the Foundation for Pool & Spa Industry Education has rejoined the organization.
Michael Orr is returning as executive director of business development.
“I’m a mission-oriented person,” Orr said. “My mode of life is that you never give up; you always accomplish the mission. I had a little setback here for a couple years, and [now] the mission will continue.”
From the very beginning, Orr was the face of the Sacramento, Calif.-based educational facility.
When FPSIE opened its doors in 2006, Orr served as executive director, overseeing creation of the nation’s only free-standing facility devoted entirely to education for the pool and spa industry.
He also set up educational programs, collaborated with colleges and helped establish Internet courses under the guidance of FPSIE’s board of directors.
In summer 2008, FPSIE decided to add to its staff and Tema Abend was hired as CEO to oversee the organization’s business side. Orr then became director of education so that he could focus on his specialty.
But Orr had philosophical disagreements with the board as well as Abend, and exited the organization in September 2008. Abend left in May 2009.
Around that time, the economy went into a historic downturn, and FPSIE found itself short on funds. With no executive director or CEO, the organization struggled.
“It floundered to the point that we were in a position where we either had to redirect FPSIE or stop operations,” said the group’s treasurer, Don Aston. “We chose to redirect FPSIE.”
Aston was put in charge of the day-to-day operations and brought Orr on board as a volunteer, then as an independent contractor.
In his new position, one of Orr’s first priorities will be to rebuild connections with manufacturers and regain sponsorships. He also plans to integrate programs from other educational groups into FPSIE, eventually offering some of those classes via the Internet.
The group is currently looking for more volunteers and interns to help with teaching, computer and Web work, and administrative duties.
“We’re doing this literally in baby steps, in a financially responsible way, so that we can survive and grow,” Aston said. “We’re not trying to get in over our heads.”
FPSIE also is working to fill the seats of four board directors, three whose terms are expiring, and one — Phil Gelhaus — who is resigning.