It may be the 30th anniversary for the Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show, but organizers are determined to keep things fresh and relevant.

So it is that this year’s theme is “Survive, Thrive, Energy-ze.” The first two points are pretty straightforward: Companies that have survived the economic downturn are poised to rebound. “Now we’re climbing out of this economic pit. I won’t say the tough times are over, but we can start to thrive now,” show manager Trish McCormick says. 

The “Energy-ze” point refers not only to energizing yourself and your company to meet the challenges of these times, but also to energy-efficient and green products — a particular emphasis of the 2011 show. Recession or not, the consumer demand for innovative, energy-efficient products is growing, McCormick says, and pool and spa professionals need to be positioned to meet it.

The theme will be evident in various ways when the NESPA-sponsored event returns to the Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center on Jan. 25-27. From seminars on eco-friendly technologies, to surviving the new economy, to the green footprints on the show floor that will lead attendees to the New Product Boardwalk and booths with “green” items ... this Northeast show is focused.

The resilient spirit of pool and spa professionals is a testament to the strength of the industry and its optimism, McCormick says. “Besides offering the latest education, technology and products at the show, there’s a renewed and upbeat attitude for our industry,” she says. “I felt the optimism at the Expo in Las Vegas, and I feel it now. I’m excited again.”

Admission to the exhibit hall is free for industry members; for the various seminar passes and to register for a show badge, visit

That’s Hot

The welcome party has a new venue this year: Harrah’s Pool After Dark. The exclusive Atlantic City nightclub attracts locals as well as celebrities such as Paris Hilton,, Kim Kardashian, Carmen Electra and more. But don’t worry — you won’t have to dodge paparazzi on Monday, Jan 24, because the club is open strictly for pool and spa professionals, age 21 and older, from 7-10 p.m.

And what a club it is! Under a huge glass dome you’ll find a sparkling pool, palm trees, tropical greenery, cabanas, and pulsating music and lights. Billed as a “poolside tropical adventure,” the event will feature networking with industry colleagues, dancing, and plenty of island-inspired food and libations. (One complimentary cocktail per guest; cash bar.)

New for 2011: a $10 cover charge per person, which must be paid in advance, while registering online for the show. Also, show badges will be required for admission.

Free shuttle service will be provided to and from the welcome party from the official show hotels, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

Going Green

As you’re wandering around the show floor this year, you may see little green footprints on the floor. You’re not imagining things, nor are there leprechauns afoot.

Just follow the tracks and you will find eco-friendly items at the New Products Boardwalk. Still other prints will direct you toward various exhibitors’ booths featuring energy-efficient and/or "green" products.

It’s all part of the show organizers’ plan to focus attention on energy-efficiency and green products, explains show manager Trish McCormick. In fact, there will be a section devoted to just such merchandise at the second annual silent auction on Tuesday and Wednesday.


he silent auction successfully debuted last year, raising more than $34,000, so it will be returning for an encore performance at the 2011 show. New this year is a special area devoted to energy-efficient products, in keeping with the theme “Thrive, Survive and Energy-ze.”

In the exhibit hall’s silent auction area, attendees may view and bid on items donated by manufacturers — which could be anything from cleaning equipment to heaters, spa and pool accessories, test kits, software and more — on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 25-26, during show hours.

How it works: Your badge number is your bid number; just enter it on the bid sheet for items you want, then check back as the day progresses to see how your bid competes with others. Winning bids will be announced Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

Proceeds from merchandise purchases will benefit NESPA’s Foundation for the Advancement of Education and Professionalism. Its objectives include working to increase sales of industry products, educating pool and spa builders, accrediting builders and service technicians, and research and development through interactive education.

On the Way to the Forum…

Show-goers can kick things off on Monday, Jan. 24, by attending one of two all-day forums, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Business Forum covers key legal issues for business owners while the Technical Forum focuses on energy-efficient products.

“Staying Out of Hot Water: Know the Laws That Affect Your Business” is the title of the Business Forum led by Eric Probst, esq., of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, PC, along with a team of legal experts from the pool and spa industry.

Topics will include complying with state laws on consumer fraud, home improvement and the Contractor Registration Act. The focus will be mainly on laws in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, but other states also will be discussed. Other subjects covered include enforcing your legal right to collect money owed to you; understanding pool and spa safety issues and regulations (IRC and IBC); identifying the difference between independent contractor and employee status; and how to draft the best contract.

Meanwhile, organizers promise that the Technical Forum will “give you everything you need to know about energy-efficient products and how to use them to differentiate yourself in today’s tough pool and spa marketplace.”

Topics covered in the “What It Really Means to BE Green! Survive, Thrive and Energy-ze” Technical Forum include efficient hydraulics, motor technology, heating system choices, cleaning water effectively and efficiently, turning green technology into a better bottom line, automation  results in savings for the consumer, codes and laws, energizing the industry, and covering your assets.

Nine presenters will be featured in this forum: Steve Barnes, Pentair Water Pool and Spa; Dennis Bush, A.O. Smith; LaMont Drechsel, Cover-Pools; Jeff Farlow, Pentair Water Pool and Spa; Vance Gillette, Zodiac Pool Systems; Steve Gutai, Zodiac Pool Systems; Mike McVan, Jet Line Pool Products; Scott Newton, Chemtura; and Kevin Potucek, Hayward Pool Products.

The forum fee for NESPA and APSP members is $149; nonmembers, $199 (not part of the Four-Day Seminar Pass). Lunch and refreshments included.

Staying Focused

Not surprisingly, the overall show theme is reflected in the seminar topics, but  other forces are at work in the education program as well this year.

“Our focus is on energy efficiency and social marketing — the buzzword of the Millennial Generation,” says Pat Cava, education program director.

For example, there are 15 green seminars, exploring subjects such as the benefits of energy-saving pool pumps, solar pool heating, alternative sanitizers, and energy savings from automated control systems. Likewise, there are sessions on motivating Millenials, Facebook marketing for small companies, and social media marketing for businesses.

Of course, there also are courses unrelated to themes, such as advanced job costing, selling pool renovations, waterproofing techniques for concrete pools, and water chemistry for pools and spas, to name a few.

A standout seminar to watch for? Cava says it would have to be “Industry Economic Trends and Business Indicators for 2011,” scheduled for Tuesday, 8:30-11:45 a.m.

“I’m hoping people will embrace the education program and see the future and what’s in it for them,” Cava adds. “We tried to hear what they were saying, get feedback, and give them what they want and need.” For a full seminar listing, visit