The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals wrapped up a successful event. 

Experts representing 117 organizations gathered Aug. 14-15 in Chicago for APSP’s 2012 Industry Summit. The number of attendees was nearly double that of the last summit, held in 2010.

“Any time you have 200 of the top leaders gathered to learn, network and think about the future of the industry, it’s a good thing,” said Rich Garbee, summit committee chairman and vice president of sales/ marketing at GLI Pool Products in Youngstown, Ohio. “We specifically chose the topics and speakers who would educate people about better ways to understand the consumer and current economic backdrop, and inspire attendees to use what they learned to promote our industry’s lifestyle benefits, products and services,” he said.

This year’s event, titled “Making Today’s Consumers Tomorrow’s Customers,” was centered around a year’s worth of consumer research conducted by The Harrison Group of Waterbury, Conn.

Sponsored by the APSP Manufacturers Council, the summit featured seminars and workshops that tapped into this research, such as “Understanding the New Consumer,” “Top 12 Technology Trends for Business in 2012 and Beyond,” and “Driving Growth Through Innovation.”

“The key takeaway was for people to understand there is $6 trillion sitting on the sidelines of the U.S. economy, and that we need to make sure we are appealing to those consumers and getting our fair share of that accumulated wealth,” said Lauren Stack, APSP director of industry relations.

The findings from the workshops had yet to be assessed as of press time, but The Harrison Group was in the processes of analyzing the data and was planning to share it by mid-September. APSP will make available to attendees and their employees the results, as well as materials and videos of the sessions, via a SharePoint Web application platform accessible through

“The SharePoint will be the home base for all things related to the summit as we get more information and we post ideas, discussions and position papers centered around the workshops,” Stack said. Participants will be notified by e-mail as info is posted to the site.

One resource featured on the SharePoint portal will be a white paper from Gene Marks, national columnist and president of the Philadelphia-based technology and consulting services firm Marks Group, PC. He discussed the latest tools and technology trends that will help businesses position themselves as leaders in their respective markets and highlighted 150 key Websites in the presentation. Stack called the white paper an invaluable resource for the industry.

Marks was one of three speakers whose messages greatly resonated with attendees, she added.

Lynn Sherr, former ABC News correspondent and current APSP Swim Ambassador, spoke to the group and signed copies of her recent book Swim: Why We Love the Water (PublicAffairs, 2012).

“She’s a very believable lover of water,” Stack said.

Perhaps the greatest highlight of the summit, however, was the keynote address by Thom Dammrich, CEO of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. He was met with a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech.

“He showed what can happen when an industry comes together, and that is something we need to see and fight for,” Stack said. “It’s fine to give out information and network, but they have to understand that they are the industry and if they want to make [it] better, they have to do it and be part of the solution.” 

Borrowing from the inspiration of Dammrich’s talk, Stack said future summits will include more case studies from industries that unite their segments and share a unified vision for success. APSP’s biannual event is scheduled again for the fall 2014.

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