Florida could well be on the road to recovery, with organizers of this year’s Orlando Pool & Spa Show reporting their highest attendance since 2007.
More than 4,000 industry professionals converged on the Orange
County (Fla.) Convention Center last month, marking a 7 percent
increase in attendees and exhibitors from the previous year.
“Everyone’s looking forward to where we’re going
— there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said
Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of the Florida Swimming
Pool Association in Sarasota, Fla., which produced the show.
“Last year people were a little depressed about the
economy,” she continued, “but it seems like everyone
has accepted it and adjusted their businesses
The show’s educational offerings drew more than 800
attendees, and remained a highlight of the program. Among the most
sought-after courses were presentations on pool tile installation,
tax tips, and the latest Americans with Disabilities Act
regulations for public facilities.
Also popular was a seminar on phosphates and enzymes. “It was
a new class, so perhaps it was an example of something people are
dealing with every day,” Parker Barsell said. “ It was
developed based on feedback we received, and obviously it was
On the show floor, several of the 200 exhibitors reported increased
foot traffic as well as an overall sense of optimism.
Indeed, much of the trepidation that typified the previous year
seemed to have faded away, according to Erik Skarie, vice president
of sales at Splash Lights, LLC, in Boynton Beach, Fla.
“Now it looks like people are ready to move forward,”
Skarie said. “Certainly there’s an awareness of
competitive issues, but there really hasn’t been a single
word about businesses hurting badly. Nobody has been griping about
the economy. And for us to have a hundred good conversations with
qualified customers is great. We had a very positive impression of
Participants also noted the number of new goods on display. A
Product Showcase yielded a three-way tie for Best New Product at
the show, as voted on by attendees. Taking top honors were
Hardscape Creations’ Pool Scribe coping system; Fusion Pool
Products’ LED Underwater / Landscape Lite Collection; and
Aladdin Equipment Company’s Service-PRO cartridge.
For Robert Brownlee Jr. and others, the event provided another bit
of proof that the Sunshine State may once again be ready to
“It seemed much busier this year,” said Brownlee, owner
of Colonial Pool and Spa in Fort Myers, Fla. “And we’re
off to a good start already, so I anticipate it will continue in a