Bruce Dunn
NSPF Bruce Dunn

It is a momentous time for the National Swimming Pool Foundation — and its new president of the board, Bruce Dunn.

In January, Genesis, the education and design organization for the residential pool/spa sector, merged with NSPF. Next month, the two will meet for a “summit” at NSPF’s Colorado Springs, Colo., headquarters.

“We’ll all be there, talking about how to make this work,” said Dunn, also co-owner of Mission Pools, a PSN Top Builder in Escondido, Calif. “We’ll focus on goals and make sure we [come up with] completely well-rounded education programs.”

According to the new chairman, NSPF has made its No. 1 objective the integration of the Genesis program and people under its umbrella. But on a broader scale, the organization seeks to create 1 million more swimmers in the U.S. To that end, NSPF facilitates the Step Into Swim program, and it also will fund others geared toward getting people into the water, having so far put $100,000 into entities such as New York State Parks & Rec, Red Cross and Swim to Win; sponsored USA Swimming programs; and donated to Angels of America’s Fallen, an organization to assist children of deceased veterans.

“Our biggest goal is to keep pools safer, open and attracting more people,” Dunn added. “It’s absolutely imperative for us to ensure that there’s the next generation of swimmers.”

As involved as Dunn is in the pool world now, it was a long, winding — and interesting — road getting here.

His father was an Air Force pilot, so Dunn and his two brothers grew up on Air Force bases from California to Texas, Ohio, Japan — and back to California when Dunn was in the 7th grade. Originally, he wanted to go into aeronautical engineering and become a pilot. He applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy, but a motorcycle wreck dashed those hopes. (Later, he was able take private pilot lessons.) Dunn obtained a B.S. in math at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and did graduate work at Harvard, which he completed in 1992.

An early business success with hydroponic greenhouses led Dunn to strike a deal with three other growers to form their own brand: Big Shot Tomatoes. Eventually Dunn held 5 acres of hydroponic greenhouses, the largest such enterprise in the state.

Business was humming along … and Dunn wanted a new challenge. On the advice of his partner, he went to Escondido and ended up at Mission Pools. The company was at a crossroads, and the owners hired Dunn to perform a business survey: Should they sell, keep or close the business? Dunn himself supplied the answer when he and brother Jeffery purchased Mission Pools.

Over the years, the brothers’ award-winning firm has constructed more than 12,000 residential and commercial pools, and spas and waterfeatures. Bruce Dunn calls construction a creative enterprise, but also one that can be very difficult. “It’s a relatively low net margin business,” he said. “You’re either very small and self-contained, or very large and able to carry the appropriate support to do the building, design, etc. We do our own work — steel, tile, etc. You hope you have enough people to do what needs to be done. That’s not for everybody.”

He and brother Jeffery devote six days a week to their business, but they do have other interests, such as completely restored vintage Corvettes, and a place on the Colorado River that they enjoy with their families.

“Fortunately, I have a wife who’s totally tolerant of my work efforts,” Dunn said.