The pool and spa industry lost a dedicated advocate and admired friend when Frank J. Borrelle III, president of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association, passed away March 1. He died of a heart attack at his home in Cherry Hill, N.J., at the age of 64.
An energetic volunteer at NESPA for more than a dozen years, Borrelle worked actively with its chapter, the Penn Jersey Pool & Spa Association, for even longer. At Penn Jersey, he was past president, a board member for 15 years, and served on a variety of committees.
His NESPA involvement sprang from his work with Penn Jersey: As chapter representative, he became an alternate member of the NESPA board in 2004 and served as a permanent director for eight years. Elected as NESPA secretary in 2012, he rose through the officer ranks and took the helm as president last September.
Borrelle began his long pool industry career after serving in the Vietnam War, when he joined Audubon-Cesco, an HVAC contractor in Audubon, N.J. Within months after being hired, he was assigned to help in the swimming pool department, where he found his calling.
He became pool division manager in 1985 and then vice president, overseeing the division over two decades of growth. In 2004 he started his own company, Borrelle Pool Services, in Cherry Hill. Last year, he sold the service operation of his company to Blue Wave Pools and launched a one-person business providing pool inspections for real estate sales. Most inspection work is generated by referrals, and real estate agents around New Jersey and Pennsylvania referred clients to Borrelle, said Lawrence Caniglia, NESPA executive director.
Last year, the NESPA Quarter Century Club presented a 40-year member pin to Borrelle in recognition of his decades of work as a volunteer to advance professional education and training. The Penn Jersey chapter also recognized him with the Al Inglin Dedication to Education Award. “He believed strongly in the importance of a well-trained industry,” Caniglia said.
Recently, he helped in the campaign to bring pool and spa licensing to New Jersey, meeting with state legislators to explain the benefits of raising barriers to entry.
Borrelle’s passion for communications technology benefitted NESPA. Whatever the new technology or device, he had it or knew about it, Caniglia said. When asked what he hoped to accomplish as president, the response was: “We do not do enough in more modern forms of communications.”
In place of a president’s message in the association’s monthly magazine, Borrelle initiated a video to engage members and highlight important issues. His first came out in September 2015. “It was terrific,” Caniglia said. They have come out monthly ever since, and NESPA plans to continue with the format Borrelle introduced.
Borrelle’s leadership also offered something less tangible, friends said. He transcended the sometimes competitive tension that can exist among trade association members. “Frank was always the voice of calm, a unifying force,” Caniglia said. “There wasn’t anybody Frank didn’t know, or anybody who didn’t like him.”
As an industry leader, Borrelle avoided the temptation to take the spotlight, said Irene Insignares, vice president of NESPA and of Cool Pool & Spa in Nanuet, N.Y. “His time and effort were always geared toward growing the organization, giving value to its members and teaching and helping others,” she said. “He was a giving, warm, wonderful person.”
With Borrelle’s passing, Insignares will assume the position of NESPA president. “He is impossible to replace ...,” she said.
Borrelle is survived by his wife, Janice, along with his parents, three children, and 11 grandchildren.