Celebrating its 46th year, the 2018 Everything Under the Sun Expo has a fitting theme: “Sunny Florida Days.”

“The industry is doing well, and things are happy and sunny,” says Wendy Parker-Barsell, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association.

Set in subtropical Orlando, the event sports theme colors of orange (for oranges), as well as cheery blue and green.

The event truly caters to swimming pool and spa professionals, as well as solar experts, from the Sunshine State, Parker-Barsell says. In fact, an FSPA breakdown of attendance shows that 88% of visitors hail from Florida, with another 5% from the Southeast and 4% from the Northeast and Midwest. And approximately 2% travel from the Caribbean and Central and South America.

On Feb. 9-10, the expo will unfold in West Hall E of the Orange County Convention Center. Organizers expect a turnout similar to years past, namely, around 225 exhibitors and up to 4,000 attendees in an exhibit space of 33,000 net square feet.

This year, the New Product Showcase will have a new feature, says Mary Anderson, FSPA’s education program manager. Manufacturers will provide short talks about the items they have on display. Attendees will find a schedule posted at the showcase, and seating will be available. Each talk will last approximately 10 minutes so manufacturers can more thoroughly provide the whats, whys and hows of their new products.

To help folks navigate the expo, a mobile app once again will be available. It can be downloaded at iTunes or Google Play. Free to FSPA members, it enables users to find exhibitors, take class notes, fill out course evaluations and more.

When it comes to the upcoming expo, Parker-Barsell sums it up thusly: “It’s the place you need to be in February for education, technology and networking.”

For online registration and more information, visit underthesunexpo.com.

Learning Made Easy

Free to FSPA members, this year’s educational lineup includes courses required by the state of Florida to maintain licensing, along with more targeted sessions for swimming pool and spa builders, retailers and service technicians, and solar professionals.

Education is an essential part of the expo due to the state’s licensing requirements. That’s why FSPA is a course sponsor approved by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board, the Electrical Contractors’ Licensing Board, and the Board of Landscape Architects.

This year’s 60-seminar lineup offers something for everyone. Among the new offerings expected to be in demand, says Anderson, is the “Florida Public Pool Specialist (FPPS) Course” on Feb. 7-8, which addresses Florida Administrative Code 64E. Then on Feb. 8 there’s the “EPA Section 608 Prep Course” and exam.

Yet another is “LP04-08 Installer C License Exam Prep Course,” which is required for a license to work with LP gas equipment, appliances and piping. Following successful course completion, attendees then register with the state to take the LP Gas Exam.

Brand-new this year is the full-day-long Hayward University. The pre-show session will take place Feb. 8, with the first half devoted to sales and the afternoon for troubleshooting tips and tricks.

As for standout seminars, they are expected to fill up fast. Here, again, sessions devoted to code compliance are expected to be most popular. These include “Basic Electrical Requirements for Pools and Spas” on Feb. 9, as well as “Laws, Codes and Standards in the Pool & Spa Industry” on Feb. 10.

“There’s a lot of call for business classes, too,” Anderson adds.

These seminars include Grandy & Associates’ “Product & Service Pricing for Profit” on Feb. 8 and “Dispatching for Profit” on Feb. 9. Another class, “10 Steps to Success” on Feb. 9, not only covers what it takes to run a profitable business, but also helps participants see how they compare with industry colleagues.

Of course, we can’t forget the Learning Labs. This year will see double last year’s slate, for a total of 16. Located on the show floor, these product-specific sessions are led by manufacturers. They are free for FSPA members and cost $10 for nonmembers. They run Feb. 9-10 in the afternoon, with limited seating.

When formulating the educational slate, diversity is a key ingredient, Anderson says “The pool and spa industry is changing so much and rapidly — take new building codes. You need to keep up with what’s happening, whether it’s sitting in the classroom for continuing education credits or in a Learning Lab or talking with exhibitors. You’re always learning. ”

Celebrate!

The show’s much-anticipated social activities will include the Welcome and Awards Reception and the Friday Night Industry Party.

The Welcome and Awards Reception officially kicks off the show on Thursday, Feb. 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Held in recognition of outstanding designs and individual accomplishments in 2017, the event will feature an open bar and food stations filled with Florida fare. A live pianist will be on hand, and an after-party will follow the awards.

This year’s private Friday Night Industry Party will take place at Cuba Libre restaurant in Pointe Orlando on Feb. 9. The venue evokes Havana, Cuba, circa the 1950s, and festivities will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The authentic cuisine will include empanadas and ceviche, and the drink menu will be highlighted by mojitos, sangria and beer. Admission is $35; tickets may be purchased when registering for the expo, or at the FSPA booth during the show.

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