When it comes to fun destinations, Orlando, Fla., is at the top of
the list. After all, it boasts SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando,
Walt Disney World and the nearby Kennedy Space Center, to name just
a few major attractions. But for pool and spa professionals,
especially in the southeastern United States, it’s also the
site for an annual trek — the Orlando Pool & Spa
Once again industry members will converge on the Orange County
Convention Center’s West Hall E on Feb. 15-16. They can
expect to find plenty of opportunities to network, view new
products, hone their trade skills — and have some fun.
“The Florida show has proven itself as one of the stronger
shows,” says Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of the
Swimming Pool Association, which hosts the event.
“We’re always adding things, trying to keep it
interesting and fresh.”
This year, for example, the FSPA Board decided to make the seminars
free of charge for all the organization’s members and as many
of their employees as they want to bring. “Typically, you
could go to the show floor for free, but now there’s no cost
for members to go to classes, too,” Parker Barsell says. She
adds that it could mean significant savings for a company that
sends its principals and several employees — and no doubt
many will want to do just that because Florida pool professionals
often take courses for credit to renew their contractor
That also means there could be a spike in attendance for 2013.
That’s good news for organizers, who have been trying to
expand the event in recent years. Their efforts have included
changing the name from the Florida show to the Orlando show (to
indicate that it’s not just for those in the Sunshine State),
and they also began reaching out to industry professionals in
nearby regions and in northern states. After a big marketing push,
attendance was up last year, with more than 4,030 industry members
participating in the show. Parker Barsell is hoping for a similar
increase of 5 to 7 percent for 2013.
Of course, those attendees will be coming for more than education.
As mentioned earlier, the show schedule has something for everyone.
For information on city attractions, go to www.visitorlando.com.
Hit the Books
It’s no secret that there’s a strong emphasis on
education at the Orlando Pool & Spa Show. The reason, of
course, is the need for many industry members to take continuing
education courses to renew their Florida contractor licenses.
The Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board requires license
holders to take 14 hours of state-approved courses every two years,
so FSPA makes sure the majority of its 60+ seminars are
That said, the educational program is designed to meet the needs of
all industry members — builders, retailers and service
technicians, as well as aquatics professionals. Topic categories
run the gamut, from technical to business, legislative/regulatory,
certification and brand/product-specific.
It’s hard to predict which seminars will be standouts this
year, notes Parker Barsell, because organizers expect a lot of
companies to bring employees. With more crew members in the
classrooms, the numbers may shift. If, say, a lot of industry
newcomers attended, perhaps more basic courses would see an
increase in students. Still, she can say there were a lot of early
sign-ups for business seminars and those emphasizing energy
Among the business courses this year are “Financial
Management for Pool Contractors During Tough Times,”
“Cost-Cutting Techniques to Increase Profits” and
“Secrets to Earning More by Selling Less.” Meanwhile,
energy efficiency is foremost in classes such as “Phosphate
and Enzyme Control for Increased Efficiency” and “FBC
Advanced Module: Energy Efficiency Regulations for
Classes of a legislative/regulatory nature include “DBPR-CILB
Laws and Rules” and “2010 ADA Regulations for Swimming
Facilities: An Update,” to name a few.
Approximately 30 new seminars show up in the education program this
year. Parker Barsell says they were chosen “the same as with
anything — people suggest things they want in the future, and
that feedback helps us decide.” So look for new sessions such
as “The Ins and Outs of Robotic Cleaners,”
“Building High-Performance Teams,” “Exposing
Myths About Pool/Spa Chemistry,” “Reducing the Cost of
Workers’ Compensation” and “Selling Services the
As always, there will be manufacturer-led, hands-on training
sessions in the exhibit hall. They do not offer CE credits, but
meet a real need for specific product information, says Bernice
Ryder-Smit, FSPA technical training coordinator. The fee is $5 per
For those seeking special certification courses, which include
fees, there are the National Plasterers Council’s
“Swimming Pool and Spa Start-Up Course” and
“Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO).”
Pre-registration is strongly advised. For more on courses, CILB
requirements and fees, or to register, visit www.orlandopoolshow.com.
Fun For All
Of course, you’ll spend much of your time at the Orlando
show’s exhibits and seminars, but be sure to make room in
your schedule for some extracurricular fun, too. Check out these
fab four events.
> Wet ’n Wild Tour. In this behind-the-scenes look at a
leading waterpark, you’ll discover how the wave pool works,
learn about the plumbing and filtration systems needed to run
commercial pools and rides that use 1.5 million gallons of water,
and the challenges of water chemistry on such a grand scale. The
tour is Thursday, Feb. 14, 1 p.m. Cost is $20 each, and the bus
leaves from the convention center’s West Hall
> Sustainability Tour. This is a first — a tour of the
Orange County Convention Center to see how its solar-heating system
works. The facility boasts the second largest solar array in the
Southeast, and on Thursday, Feb. 14, 1:30 p.m., you can tour the
roof and the inverter room, as well as learn about some
experimental solar installations. You’ll also see other ways
the center is lessening its environmental impact. Who knows?
Perhaps you may glean some ideas you can adapt for your own
business. Cost is $20 each, and the bus leaves from the convention
center’s West Hall E.
> Welcome Reception and Design Awards. A great way to officially
kick off the show, it is set for Thursday, Feb. 14, 6 p.m., at the
Rosen Plaza Hotel. Plan on free admission, light hors
d’oeuvres, a cash bar and lots of catching up with industry
colleagues. Then the event segues into the design awards, and this
year 21 companies will be honored in categories such as pool/spa
combos, vanishing edges, residential waterfeatures, semicommercial
pools and the like. Individual awards also will be bestowed.
> Industry Party. Howl At the Moon is such a popular nightclub
that 900 folks showed up for the Industry Party last year. So guess
where this year’s soiree will be held. “Everyone loves
it,” says FSPA’s Parker Barsell. “It’s fun,
casual and close to the convention center — you can walk
there.” Mark your calendar for Friday, Feb. 15, 6:30-10:30
p.m. Admission is $25 each.