The United Pool & Spa Association is in the process of dissolving as a corporation as it transfers members to the Florida Swimming Pool Association.
UPSA and FSPA entered into a formal agreement on October 31 to become a single entity. No financial transaction occurred. The unification gives former UPSA members full benefits of belonging to FSPA.
Officials say the partnership capitalizes on their overlapping interests, forming a unified front to promote and protect the commercial pool and spa industry in the Sunshine State.
“We felt it best to join forces to create a real presence in Florida,” said UPSA President John "J.C." Centera. “When we talk, people are going to listen.”
UPSA is the smaller of the two associations. The 32-year-old trade group is exclusively focused on the design, construction, engineering, and maintenance of commercial pools. It has about 50 members throughout Florida.
FSPA, on the other hand, boasts hundreds members across 16 chapters. It represents both residential and commercial builders and service professionals. Absorbing UPSA will bring some of the state's largest pool design, building and engineering firms into the fold, as well as UPSA’s longtime lobbyist R. Bruce Kershner, who will work alongside FSPA’s government relations director, Jennifer Hatfield.
Ultimately, the coupling will give FSPA more commercial clout.
“We saw the opportunity for UPSA to fill a niche in the FSPA organization,” said Centera, who will now be chairman of FSPA’s Commercial Council.
The maneuver will also better serve UPSA members who will now benefit from FSPA's influence with lawmakers through its Pool Industry Political Action Committee.
The union formalizes what officials say has long been a productive working relationship between the two groups, which shared members who belonged to both associations. In recent years, FSPA and UPSA banded together to successively amend a law that would have diminished the ability of health inspectors to enforce safety standards at public pools. More recently, the groups launched a series of educational workshops to teach state building officials how to review plans for commercial pools.
“We’ve worked closely with UPSA for years,” said Wendy Parker-Barsell, FSPA’s executive director. “This wasn’t necessarily about growing membership. This gets everyone on board as we work toward better bills and regulations for the industry.”
The two groups linking is representative of an industry trend. The California Pool and Spa Association recently joined the National Swimming Pool Foundation to create The Pool, Spa & Aquatics Alliance. This was after NSPF brought the building group Genesis 3 under its umbrella. Of course, there also was talk of NSPF and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals becoming one, though those negotiations fell through.
UPSA will give refunds to those members who were also enrolled with FSPA. Centera said the remaining funds will be donated to charitable causes.