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    Credit: LEISURE POOLS USA

A leading fiberglass pool manufacturer has cut ties with its longtime CEO and now is under the direction of its co-founder.

David Pain, who along with his father Kerry Pain established Leisure Pools in Australia in 1988, assumed leadership of the company’s U.S. operations on Jan. 10. He had served as chief executive of Leisure’s international business for the past seven years.

“This provides an opportunity for us to grow Leisure Pools into a global brand,” Pain said from the firm’s U.S. headquarters in San Antonio. “We want to have that consistency — same message, same products, same manufacturing techniques — all around the world, and I look forward to bringing the technology and quality controls we’ve established in Australia to our business here to North America.”

Meanwhile, former CEO Ashley Gill has sold his shares in the company, which he launched in the United States in 2003, and is no longer with the firm. In fact, the change in management coincided with a dispute over a side business, which involved the manufacturing of storage tanks, owned by Leisure Pools USA shareholders, including the Pain family, Gill and Paul Pusztay.

Pusztay, the company’s dealer development director, also has left Leisure Pools USA.

Neither Pain nor Gill wished to discuss the disagreement or subsequent lawsuit, which alleged fraud and breach of fiduciary duty against Gill, Pusztay and a pair of other shareholders in the tank business.

“We’ve got nine years invested in building [Leisure Pools USA],” Gill did say, “so obviously I want to see it go on and do good things. Leisure has been in business in Australia for a long time. … They’ll do well over here, I’m sure.”

For his part, Pain understands there’s a learning curve associated with running the business on a new continent. And he’s already identified a few key differences between the two markets. For one, fiberglass pools enjoy a 50 to 55 percent market share in Australia, compared with an estimated 10 to 15 percent in the United States.

In addition, Australian fiberglass dealers typically work with a single manufacturer and operate in separate areas; here, it isn’t uncommon for a dealer to offer lines from multiple suppliers.

And while Pain has grown accustomed to the Australian model, he’s taking a wait-and-see approach to the company’s U.S. network.

“I think it’s a mutually beneficial relationship where a dealer has confidence that it’s their territory, and vice versa, where we’ve got confidence that the dealer is selling only our product,” he said. “But I certainly won’t make any rash decisions until I’ve done the research on what’s best for all stakeholders — us and the dealer.”

Leisure Pools USA holds its annual dealer conference March 2-3 in San Antonio.