2010 saw a better-than-expected turnout for the 32nd Annual Western Pool& Spa Show, held Feb. 25-27 at the Long Beach (Calif.) Convention Center.

A total of 9,078 industry professionals walked through the doors, down just 2.5 percent from last year’s 9,311.

“It is a little lower than last year,” said Peter Haverlation, president of the 2010 WPSS, “but with the [current] economy, I thought we did pretty well. We had good traffic all three days, and I heard positive comments from people walking around.”

From basic water chemistry and essential business practices to installation and repair of the latest equipment, WPSS offered 77 educational seminars drawing just under 1,000 participants.

“We had full capacity in our class — standing room only,” said Dave Allen of Allen’s Pool Supply in Santa Clara, Calif, who taught “Tips and Tricks for the New Pool Tech.” He added, “There are a lot of new people coming into the business — about 70 percent them had less than two years’ experience in the industry.”

As for product selection, Allen also was pleased. “They had a really good group of vendors, especially the specialty tools,” he said. “I found some [products] that will be helpful that I didn’t know were out there. The mix was great for servicepeople.”

But the show was not without surprises. This year’s traditional truck giveaway resulted in an unprecedented repeat winner — Bill McEuen of Newport Beach, Calif., who won his first vehicle at the 2003 WPSS.

The next show is slated for March 31-April 2, 2011, a departure from the usual, earlier dates.

“It’s the latest we’ve ever had it,” Haverlation noted. “And it will be a challenge.”

But despite the concern of encroaching on the start of the 2011 swim season, more than half the floor is already sold and many vendors are upsizing their booths, according to Haverlation.