The National Plasterers Council Board of Directors.
Bill Korhely/Roadrunner Photo The National Plasterers Council Board of Directors.

Things turned up sunny in more ways than one at the National Plasterers Council’s 26th annual conference.

Held Feb. 11-13 in Phoenix, the event was attended by approximately 300 non-exhibiting professionals who took in the warm weather, an educational program containing 20 courses, and a tabletop show with about 50 exhibitors.

“We were up in all categories — sponsorship, attendance and vendor support,” said NPC Chair Dave Schilli. “It was just a positive feeling to know that everybody’s behind the NPC and feeling that we’re back where we were a few years ago.”

This is the first conference overseen by the Sanford Organization, the Wauconda, Ill. trade-management company hired last year after the abrupt departure of long-time management firm Visioneering Consultants of Port Charlotte, Fla.

While the NPC had gone through a rough patch financially around the time that Visioneering left, the messages were positive at this year’s conference.

“NPC is in a stronger financial position today than it has been in years,” said NPC Executive Director Jeff Henderson.

Membership is growing at a brisk clip, Henderson said. It has reached its highest head count, falling just shy of 500, with 100 having joined in the last year.

“There just is a sense of enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s just a really good spot and a good time to be a part it.”

Builders and service technicians make up the fastest-growing segment, he added.

This year’s conference followed the recipe for success from previous events, including a day-long start-up certification class and shorter sessions on various technical and business topics. There were two firsts in start-up certification: a course in Spanish, and a recertification course.

Several technical initiatives were discussed. NPC is updating its technical manual and continues to collaborate with the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals to produce the first ANSI plastering standard. The group’s also writing a series of technical bulletins, with the first to come out in spring.

“This is an effort to pull together all research that has been done … around plastering, its endurance and maintenance,” Henderson said. “It’ll become the 2015 definitive statement on pool plastering practices, start-up, care and maintenance.”

The organization also is pursuing the relaunch of its Pool Industry Research Center at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in the near future. Members currently are discussing the best business model for the center. “We’re all committed to get this on track,” Henderson said. “We have a lot of good options, so [we have to decide] what’s the best to accomplish the goal, not only for the plasterers’ interests, but for the pool industry’s interest.”