There’s so much going on at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo & Conference that it can be hard to make sure you don’t miss anything.

That’s why this PSNPlanner is so handy, briefing you on all the show-floor action, activities and educational seminars at the 2014 event, which will unfold in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 2-7.

The conference boasts a variety of technical and business sessions for pool and spa professionals, taught by experts in their fields. With nearly 70 classes and more than 250 hours of course selections, there’s something for everyone wanting to hone their professional skills.

Over six days, students will find seminars on everything from installing translucent glass tile, creating beautiful outdoor rooms and innovative sanitizing technologies to maximizing retail success on a budget and fixing common website mistakes.

Florida industry professionals will be glad to know that many seminars are approved for continuing education units (CEUs) through the state’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation.

Here’s a preview of five of the sessions that will be presented.


Mike Childress

To know what makes waterfeatures work and how various effects are achieved is what this seminar is all about.

Led by Mike Childress of Pentair Aquatic Systems, the 90-minute session will delve into hydraulic principles, plumbing and sizing practices related to waterfeatures. Everyone from builders, installers and service technicians to architect/designers and professional pool managers will benefit from the intermediate-level class, which is set for Wednesday, Nov. 5, 3:30-5 p.m.

Main points to be covered include how to size features for correct water flow, identify hydraulic faults in waterfeatures and properly size basins. Other considerations, such as the finish of the edge and correct pump sizing, will be covered as well.

“I anticipate a lot of audience participation,” says Childress, who is a technical trainer for the Sanford, N.C.-based company.

He adds that there will be a PowerPoint presentation, graphics and charts to help get the information across. Students can expect an instructional approach, as well as some case studies.

This is the first time Childress has taught a waterfeatures class at the Expo, but he has shared his knowledge at regional shows. He joined Pentair in 1990 in manufacturing, becoming an expert in pumps and filtration. Three years later, he moved into the maintenance department, gaining more knowledge and eventually specializing in electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic and gas heating systems. And, as a member of the technical service department, he assisted customers in equipment troubleshooting and repair. Nine years ago, he began his career as a trainer.

What he hopes participants take away from this Expo course is a true understanding of what makes waterfeatures tick. He says it’s important to be able to look at a waterfeature and know what it takes to make it function — the flow per foot, the edging and so forth.

Indeed, not only is it fun to be able to design and install a waterfeature but, he says, “It’s neat for people to be able to look at a commercial waterfeature and know what’s behind that.”

Mobile Technology for Service Techs: Improve Efficiency, Response Time & Communication

Nathan Caldwell

The title pretty much says it all. This seminar, led by a pool service veteran, will show exactly how mobile devices can help service professionals do their jobs better.

Texas technician Nathan Caldwell of Gohlke Pools will cover a lot of ground in the 90-minute session, set for Wednesday, Nov. 5, 3:30-5 p.m. Participants will learn about finding answers for repair or pool maintenance problems online; how technology can help you more efficiently track inventory and locate parts; software’s ability to streamline processes, helping you create a mobile database and work quicker; and more.

“Basically, I’m out in the field,” Caldwall explains. “With a laptop, I can link to the office server. If a work order comes in, the scheduler will put it in the computer and it pops up on my screen and, if I’m in the area, I can call the customer. At the same time, that customer is in the database and I can see the work we’ve done and the equipment that was installed … and schedule a visit right then. I can then assess [the situation] and look up parts. I can generate a quote and do the work.”

When the customer gets fast service, it makes a great impression. “If you can respond quickly, give a diagnosis, do work and give them an invoice, they’ll pay when you’re done,” Caldwall says.

Among his credentials: APSP Certified Service Technician and Building Professional; a CPO; a Residential Appliance Installer (Texas Pool Service Technician license). At Gohlke Pools, a Denton, Texas-based building/retail/service company, he was previously the pool construction superintendent before stepping into his current role as a service professional.

The biggest takeaway from this seminar, Caldwell says, will be an understanding of the importance of response time — for problem-solving or customer service. “Stop going back to the office and consulting a manual. Use the phone and Internet,” Caldwell tells new service techs in training. With so much information at your fingertips online, he says, it’s not necessary to know everything about everything. If you don’t know how to fix something, you can pull up a pdf, run a diagnostic and usually fix it. And, as mentioned earlier, response time — accelerated by mobile technology — will make a huge difference in customer satisfaction.

U.S. Residential Pool Markets Report

Toby Morrison

The industry is always hungry for data and statistics regarding pools and consumers — and this seminar, led by Toby Morrison of Metrostudy, will provide some sustenance.

He will be offering an update on Metrostudy’s pool industry research and reports in this session, slated for Thursday, Nov. 6, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

“I’ll be covering household formation numbers, housing starts, where the economy is going — and the tremendous impact on the pool market, as well as the number of pools,” says Metrostudy’s senior director of insights and national sales manager - BPM channel.

Morrison also will be ranking the best pool markets in the United States and their performance in 2014 to date, as well as highlighting the top pool builders nationally and in key local markets. And, if you want to know more about which households are most likely to buy or own pools, this seminar is a must.

Morrison has more than 15 years’ experience working with residential and commercial construction and real estate data. At Metrostudy, he helps building product manufacturers (BPMs) use data for better strategic planning and business initiatives. The firm provides primary research and analysis on residential real estate development and new-home construction. Builders, retailers, developers, manufacturers and banks count on the company’s market analysis for many business decisions.

Metrostudy’s U.S. Pool Market Reports provide current information about the industry. The firm obtains data by tracking pools and pool activity across the nation, and its ability to compile information about pool owners and the builders working with them helps Metrostudy determine where future demand is likely to be. The firm is owned by Washington, D.C.-based Hanley Wood, which also owns this magazine.

Attendees will be able to download a free report on one specific local market with information on how that market is expected to perform, and which ZIP codes and consumer groups have the most potential in 2015. It’s market knowledge that can be directly applied to their companies. This free report has a $300 retail value.

Store Layout & Merchandising – Turn Your Store from Ordinary into EXTRAordinary!

Ted Lawrence

For the survival of a specialty retail store, it’s important that management gets the store layout and merchandising strategy right. If done properly, consumers will want to stay, shop and buy more.

That will be a prime message of this seminar, led by retail development specialist Ted Lawrence on Thursday, Nov. 6, 8-9:30 a.m. He’ll also focus on creating a “Total Customer Experience” to help retailers compete and win against mass merchants and Internet competitors.

“The Total Customer Experience is a big one,” says Cleveland-based Lawrence of PoolCorp. “It starts on the website, where customers are looking at your store, and leads into the parking lot, and into the store. It’s what they see, smell and hear. And the staff, are they friendly? There are a couple of big retailers I bring up who do it right — for example, Whole Foods. You walk in and it’s pleasing to the eye the way the produce is laid out, the apples bursting out of the apple cart, the music, the clerk talking about your purchases — how they themselves cook kale. It takes it from transactional to an environment of comfort.”

Lawrence also will be talking about the need for retailers to create what he calls an artificial economy in their stores to boost the average sale and profits. In a nutshell, that approach offers different models at different price points so the consumer has choices. For instance, often they’ll come in determined to buy, say, the medium-priced item that’s on sale, but when they see the ultra-premium model, the sale item seems stripped down and now they desire all those bells and whistles.

This 90-minute seminar is Lawrence’s Expo debut, though he’s led many at other conferences and venues.

A pool industry veteran of more than 20 years, Lawrence has coached hundreds of small independent and large multistore chains on how to increase revenues and retain/motivate employees. He says he’s coming from fourth generation grocery store professionals who have seen customer behavior similar to what he describes in the seminar. “I say I’m ‘a pool guy with a grocer background,’” Lawrence notes.

Genesis 3 - Design 204: Pool Studio – Days 1 and 2

Barry Justus

For those wanting to take their design skills to the next level, this two-day seminar is just the thing. It’s geared toward landscape designers, architect/designers and pool builder/designers who want to learn how to use Pool Studio software to create stunning 3-D pool designs.

Led by Genesis 3 member Barry Justus, the sessions will be held Monday, Nov. 3, and Tuesday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Participants will advance from novice users to skilled Pool Studio designers, turning out detailed professional presentations. The course includes tips and tricks for intermediate-level users as well.

Note: Design 101 is a prerequisite for this class. This is one of four (Design 201-204) optional classes required for the Society of Watershape Designers certification.

In Pool Studio Days 1 and 2, each participant will use his or her own laptop computer, completing instructional exercises and developing a pool project. “By the end of Day 2, they will be able to design a project from beginning to end, and know how to make a video,” says Justus, owner of Poolscape Inc. in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “It will blow the competition out of the water.”

They’ll also be able to identify advanced details, including perimeter overflow, vanishing edge and acrylic walls.

Justus says the software is easy to use and calls it an incredible selling tool for pool builders. “When you go on a sales call, you can do a live drawing with the clients right there,” he notes. “[The program] puts them into the center of the pool, and they experience sound, lights, shadows and more. When they’re involved, they’re invested in it, and they want to buy.”

This is his third year teaching Pool Studio. The award-winning pool professional has designed and lectured internationally, and written more than 30 articles on pool design and construction for numerous magazines.

He says the takeaway from this Expo class will be the ability to “start with zero knowledge of the program and go to making a full presentation.”