California industry lobbying group SPEC has implemented several new initiatives.

To raise funds and increase its reach, the Sacramento, Calif.-based group has changed its dues structure, added new programs, redesigned its Website and reorganized its Board of Governors.

A host of factors led to the overhaul. “The fact that we have an economy that’s bad, a state that’s out of money and [unlicensed] contractors with targets on the industry — it was a perfect storm,” SPEC Chairman Mike Geremia said. “So we really need a healthy organization and the bank account to help defend the industry and protect it proactively.”

To increase membership, SPEC revised its dues structure and added a new recruitment program. The organization wants to grow from its current size of approximately 200 members to 1,000.

“Two hundred members is a very small voice in Sacramento,” said SPEC Executive Director Mitch Brooks. “A thousand members is a true voice.”

To attract more industry professionals, SPEC now charges flat rates of $100 per year for service companies, $250 for subcontractors and $500 for builders. Members can pay in monthly increments using their credit cards. Manufacturers must contact SPEC directly to assess a membership rate.

Larger companies can contribute further, particularly during the organization’s annual fund-raising drive.

In addition, SPEC needs to raise money to expand its mission.

“SPEC for many years has been mostly on the defensive, and it is the will of the board… that we have the financial reserves to be on the offensive and get done what we want done,” Brooks said.

He estimated that for the organization to initiate a bill, it would need at least $70,000.

To reinforce its outreach, the group has begun an Ambassador Program, wherein one representative from each chapter of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals in California serves as a SPEC liaison to help recruit new members and provide information about the group’s efforts.

The revamped Website has been designed to help boost the member tally as well. The site now allows industry professionals to register online, as well as view old articles, press releases and links to various state and local governmental bodies.

Finally, the group has added a hotline — 855.250.7732 — that members can call to get information or report regulatory and legislative issues in their areas.

On the management end, SPEC continues to expand its Board of Governors in head count and functionality.

After longtime CEO Don Burns left in July 2009, Sacramento-based lobbyist John Norwood and his firm, Norwood Associates, took over. Last year, the group hired Brooks and his Port Charlotte, Fla.-based association management firm, Visioneering Consultants, to perform executive director duties such as fund-raising and organizing.

With the new distribution of labor, board members are being asked to do more, which is a departure from their less hands-on roles of the past. Three committees have been formed: legislative, membership and resource development, or fund-raising.

“We looked around the membership list, and saw the application of the 80/20 rule. ... We really need to have everybody participating,” Geremia said. “The way the Board of Governors now works, we are there to be a support staff for the overall operation.”