Industry professionals have another way to gain continuing education units. In February, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals announced the launch of its APSP University, which as of press time was offering six webinars. It plans to be at full schedule in the next six to 12 months.

“Ultimately, the reason for APSP University’s launch was to meet the needs and demands of our members in terms of education,” said Patrick Giambalvo, vice president of business development at APSP. “It’s our duty and obligation to provide our members with tools both in education and certification to drive more profit and be more efficient in their businesses.”

Giambalvo characterized APSP University as a very aggressive initiative. When fully implemented, the program will offer education tracks for all segments of the industry — manufacturers, building and installation professionals, retailers, designers, service technicians, sales and small-business owners — through live and virtual classes, as well as online courses in other formats.

The virtual classroom series, in which attendees will learn in real time via the Internet, will feature experts teaching to all the certification programs. The university also will include face-to-face classes on a regional basis, but locations hadn’t been determined as of press time.

In rolling out the program, the association also is working with the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada, which will take the university, including the virtual classrooms of all the APSP certification programs, up north.

“We have a new partner in Canada that we will be working with to introduce our education endeavors into the Canadian marketplace, where we find there’s a tremendous need as well,” Giambalvo said of PHTCC.

The initial six webinars, available only to APSP members, focus on business-related topics. “One issue is consistent across the board, and that is the need in our membership for soft business skills,” Giambalvo said.

The first session, covering sales presentations, was held Feb. 11. The second, scheduled Feb. 18, explores Quickbooks, while the third, scheduled for Feb. 25, offers instruction on Microsoft Outlook. Each webinar counts toward CEU requirements to earn or maintain APSP certifications. The remaining sessions in the first slate will take place next month: • March 4: Project Management for Pools
• March 11: Communication Skills
• March 18: Effective Pool Sales Presentations with PowerPoint

Giambalvo reported that members began enrolling in classes the week after APSP University was announced. “We are pleased with the enrollment so far,” he said.

Giambalvo will oversee APSP University, and APSP’s professional development manager, Heather Corbin, will be a key staffer in the program.

While details of the full APSP University are being worked out, the association’s education committees are undergoing reorganization to accommodate changing needs.

“I think it is very important for us to put the best education program we can out there, especially in Long Island [N.Y.] and Connecticut, where APSP certification is mandatory to obtain a license to do business,” said John Lochren, president/owner of Solar Pool Enclosures and chairman of the APSP Service Education Committee.

APSP University adds another educational opportunity into the existing pool available for industry professionals. It joins offerings from other groups as well as Genesis, which started its catalog in 1997 and has seminars at major industry gatherings.

“We’re the only ANSI standard-setting body in the industry, so that sets us apart,” Giambalvo added. Though the February and March sessions are advertised at $149, they cost $99 for registrants using the code “APSP50.”