Unhappy with its funding and level of control, the Central Arizona Chapter of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals will decide at a meeting this month whether to secede from the national organization.
“They just don’t do anything for us,” said Tim Murphy, CEO of Presidential Pools & Spas, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder in Gilbert, Ariz. “We’re a large organization. We pay a ton of money for dues, and we just aren’t getting support from them.”
In June, the chapter’s board resigned, leaving only John Grogan, secretary/treasurer, to pay outstanding debts.
If the chapter leaves, the national organization stands to lose a powerful sector. The Central Arizona Chapter covers the entire Phoenix metropolitan area and accounts for approximately 20,000 new pools a year, according to Kevin Woodhurst, former chapter president. A total of seven Pool & Spa News Top Builders reside there, including megabuilders Shasta Pools & Spas of Phoenix, and Paddock Pools, Patios and Spas of Scottsdale. The Central Arizona Chapter currently has 82 member firms.
With such a vibrant industry, the chapter said it needs more than $100,000 each year to operate. The group also holds fund-raisers, coordinates safety-awareness activities and has a lobbyist on retainer.
The group said it hasn’t been receiving enough funds. In May, Central Arizona approached APSP wanting the national body to specify exactly how much money would be distributed to the chapter. The group provided the national office with a proposed budget of more than $100,000, hoping to receive that amount. The other option the chapter presented was that it become an affiliate similar to the former regions 1 and 7.
APSP declined Central Arizona’s request to become an affiliate. “The mandate and charge from the [national] board is to put the emphasis on Regional Service Centers,” said Bill Weber, APSP president/CEO. “We encourage them to work with us, get [their RSC] implemented, and we could go from there.”
APSP’s Regional Service Centers are the cornerstones of the group’s reorganization and are still taking form. Under the new structure, funding goes from the national office to the RSC, then to the chapters. Central Arizona belongs to the Southwest Region, headquartered in Las Vegas.
Weber explained that this system does not allow the national office to make the kind of budgetary commitment being sought. Instead, the decision will come from the region’s new RSC and should happen fairly quickly. “I said the whole thing shouldn’t take more than maybe a month because that’s the amount of time it’s taken in the other regions,” Weber noted.
APSP did offer a loan of $25,000 to tide the chapter over. But the Central Arizona Chapter’s Board of Directors believed it had been waiting too long for APSP to finalize an organizational structure. And with the dues increase of last year, members such as Murphy said they want to see more value.
As the date for membership renewal approaches, the board thought it was time to act. “Is it really going to change?” Woodhurst asked. “Do we want to ... have wasted another year that we could have maybe gotten something else going?”
After resigning, the former officers then scheduled the meeting with the general membership in August to determine whether to remain with the national association or begin one of their own. In the meantime, members were urged not to renew their APSP memberships until a decision is made, in case the dues could be put toward a new group.
The former officers said not enough of their dues are returned in services to their chapter. They added that individual members often have to foot the bill for fund-raisers, consumer-awareness drives and other activities. For instance, member companies have paid $102,000 since 2000 to help shape industry-related legislation, Grogan said. The chapter occasionally had to hold emergency meetings to raise money.
Chapter officials said the national office never reimbursed their group for the extra expenditures. APSP staff members said they don’t have records of requests for payment. Central Arizona Chapter officers don’t have the documentation either, due to the spring departure of Bob Bradley, the chapter’s executive director.
The group’s former officers believe they can start a new organization, if necessary. Grogan said he has verbal commitments from enough companies to provide adequate funding. The chapter thinks it can increase membership, and possibly even start its own trade show.
APSP National will serve members in the area whether the chapter remains in place or not. “[They] are APSP members, [not] chapter members, per se,” Weber said. “As much as I would love to have these guys stay involved, we have an obligation to continue to serve those members.”
Weber hopes chapter members will decide to give the new Regional Service Center a chance. “APSP is not your grandfather’s NSPI,” he said. “It’s a new organization with a lot of vitality, new initiatives and emphasis on member service. There are a lot of things that APSP does that no small group can do.”