Pentair Aquatic Systems’ vice president of sales has retired after more than two decades with the company. Dave Murray will be replaced by Steve Zorn who previously served as the regional sales manager in the California market.

Murray, a prominent figure in the industry, is described by colleagues as a strong dealmaker and customer advocate who was instrumental in guiding Pentair through years of meteoric growth as a U.S. manufacturer of pool equipment.

“He genuinely cared about his people, he genuinely cared about his customers and he genuinely cared for the industry,” said Manuel Perez de le Mesa, CEO of PoolCorp, based in Covington, La.

Perez de le Mesa credits Murray’s concern for the customer as a driving force behind Pentair’s formidable position in the category of energy-efficient products, saying Murray understood the value those products would provide pool owners.

He said Murray’s successor, Zorn, will continue the company’s progress.  “Steve is cut from the same cloth. …They’ll do very well going forward,” he said.

Murray was a minor league baseball player and carried that competitive spirit into the sales field. Before Pentair, he worked for another heavy-hitter in the industry – Hayward. “Dave was a very funny, smart guy who was a great dealmaker,” said Richard Garbee, chairman of the APSP manufacturer’s council. He worked with Murray at Hayward for several years in the ’80s.

When Murray left for Pentair, Garbee and colleagues kept a keen eye on the competition. “Pentair’s business has grown as a direct relationship to Dave’s contribution and participation with them, there’s no doubt about that,” said Garbee, now vice president of sales and marketing and Youngstown, Ohio-based GLI pool products.

Murray was with Pentair for 21 years.

Zorn, with the company since 1993, will report directly to President Karl Frykman.

“I have full faith and confidence in Steve’s leadership and in the leadership of each of our regional managers in the field. I look forward to our continued growth and customer focus under Steve’s direction,” Frykman said in a statement.