The International Hot Tub Association will now operate under the umbrella of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.

As part of the arrangement, the APSP Hot Tub Council will be dissolved. The IHTA Board and the Hot Tub Council will together select seven to nine members to comprise the IHTA going forward. Additionally, IHTA members will become members of APSP.

Formed in 2008 by a hot tub manufacturer, the IHTA originally sprang out of the hot-tub industry’s belief that it needed a voice dedicated to its product category to help shape legislation and code writing. Alarmed by restrictive government regulations that had recently passed, the founders felt their product was being lumped along with pools and therefore was being held to inapplicable codes. Its stated goals included hiring lobbyists to focus on the hot-tub industry, joining ANSI to help influence the codes it oversees, and promote standardization of a single energy protocol across the country. Approximately six months after the group was founded, it reported 30 members. Within that timeframe, it also became a member of APSP and participated in APSP’s code writing.

The group has changed its outlook. “Both organizations realize there is strength in numbers and we are ready to speak with one voice on important issues that impact hot tubs,” said IHTA President Bob Lauter.

According to APSP, both organizations’ Boards of Directors voted unanimously for the move. The agreement states that IHTA’s financial resources will be combined with APSP’s “to gain operating efficiencies and membership.”

By joining forces, the group hopes to impart more influence on issues that affect the hot-tub industry, such as how the hot-tub portions of the International Swimming Pool & Spa Code is incorporated throughout the country.

“This agreement between APSP and IHTA means that the full force of legislative, regulatory and promotion activities are unified, targeted and efficient, giving the manufacturers, distributors and retailers and others involved in the hot-tub business the opportunity to be more profitable while preserving the appeal of hot tubs as a viable and attractive product,” said Rich Gottwald, APSP’s new CEO.

Lauter said IHTA members will be notified in the next few months about how to renew their memberships.