Hot tub manufacturers take note: Now, two advocacy organizations will be asking for your support.
In late January, the APSP Hot Tub Council met in Atlantic City,
N.J., where the group announced continuing plans for its Hot Tub
Industry Growth Initiative. Meanwhile, officials with the newly
formed International Hot Tub Association (IHTA) marked their own
milestone by the famed Boardwalk, holding the group’s first
board of directors meeting and ratcheting up efforts to boost
It’s enough to make any U.S. spa supplier feel like the
prettiest girl at the dance.
“This industry has a lot of people with a
lot of different interests,” said Anthony Pasquarelli,
communications director with Sundance/Jacuzzi and member of APSP’s Hot Tub
Council. “APSP has been an industry advocate for many years.
And though the [IHTA] is still in its infancy, there are a lot of
positive things that could come out of it.
“We certainly don’t view the two
groups as being mutually exclusive to one another,” he
Founded in November 2008 by ThermoSpas chief
Andy Tournas, the IHTA was created to help the spa industry better
prepare for new, some would say invasive, legislation, as well as
to promote the product itself.
“There’s nothing wrong with APSP, but
[with IHTA] we’re talking about an organization that’s
100 percent dedicated to hot tubs,” Tournas said.
Joining Tournas (president) on the group’s newly established
board of directors are: vice president Mike Dunn of Watkins
Manufacturing, treasurer Cindi Magray of Spa
Manufacturers, executive director Mitch Brooks of the National Plasterers
Council, and members Steve Hammock of Watkins, Sue Sousa of
Howard Smith of Pleatco.
According to Tournas, the group’s short-term
goals for the coming months include: instituting a monitoring
program to track the latest proposed legislation; reaching out to
the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to offer input on
new regulations; and working to change the official definition of
hot tubs under the International Residential Code (IRC).
The group also expects in the next 30 days to
debut its Website, www.internationalhottubassociation.com. In
addition, IHTA’s board will expand to 12-15 members, and open
positions should be nailed down by early summer.
While each organization regards the other with polite deference,
lines in the sand are beginning to appear. IHTA board members, for
one, feel there’s a need for an association that more clearly
differentiates hot tubs from pools.
“I think APSP is working hard, but their
plate is too full,” Hammock said. “With APSP, I feel
like we’re being forced to solve problems that don’t
exist for [the spa] industry. We’re like the dolphin that got
caught in the tuna net. A better job needs to be done.”
Ultimately, what the IHTA means to APSP’s
fundraising efforts remains to be seen.
Those efforts have been continuing. More than 40
industry members representing 25 different companies attended the
APSP Hot Tub Council meeting. The concept behind the group’s
growth initiative is to “promote and protect the hot tub
industry in these severe economic times,” stated Lauren
Stack, APSP’s director of public relations and industry
The initial monetary goal already has been revised
from a hoped-for $8 million to $2 million. “We can no longer
sit idly by and wait for our category to either turn around on its
own, or to fade away completely,” Stack said. “We will
do what we can do with whatever monies we collect.
“We [lowered the target] because a number of
manufacturers are having a tough time getting paid by their
dealers,” she added. “A lot of them are having
cash-flow problems right now.”
In the works since mid-2007, APSP’s Hot Tub
Council has spent more than $400,000 on various research, planning
and outreach projects. It’s now entering what Stack calls
“the implementation stage.”
“We’ve already determined what the
industry’s problems are and how we’re going to address
them — now it just hinges on how much we can do with what
we’re able to get,” she said. “We’re
confident it will move forward in some fashion.”
The next two months will be critical, as Stack
plans to blitz an array of companies for participation. Part of
that pitch will be a presentation that illustrates what’s
possible once the campaign hits certain benchmarks: “This way
they can see what’s being covered at various levels of
She added that ideally the group would like to
have committments in hand by March 31.
With her stated goal of 70 percent industry
participation, Stack knows that’s no small undertaking.
“Regardless, we’re going to see
something soon,” she said.