Left to right: PHTA Chair Joe Laurino, PHTA Achievement award winner Franceen Gonzales, outgoing PHTA Chair Charlie Claffey
courtesy PHTA Left to right: PHTA Chair Joe Laurino, PHTA Achievement award winner Franceen Gonzales, outgoing PHTA Chair Charlie Claffey

In November, PHTA named its new Chairman and the recipients of its annual awards:

New Chairman: Joseph Laurino, Ph.D. has been appointed as chairman of the board for the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. Laurino, president and CEO of Periodic Products, in Sarasota, Fla., will serve in this capacity until November, 2024. Laurino has held several leadership roles within PHTA, including the chair of the Recreational Water & Air Quality Committee and of the Technical Advisory Council. He also helped develop the Greg Garrett Scholarship Award for PHTA members seeking to continue education.

2023 Awards: Also in November, PHTA announced the recipients of its annual awards.

Franceen Gonzales received the inaugural PHTA Achievement Award, given to an individual who has made exceptional contributions to PHTA and the industry. The 2020 PHTA Chair has 25 years of experience in the aquatics industry, currently serving as Chief Experience Officer of the Canadian waterpark-equipment manufacturer WhiteWater. She is credited for playing a key role in reorganizing PHTA's technical governance structure, relyin gon her expertise in health codes, air-quality standards and safety measures. According to the organization, she also helped streamline the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards development process for PHTA.

“There is no one more deserving of the first PHTA Achievement Award than Franceen Gonzales,” Laurino said. “She is a tireless leader, contributor, team member, mentor, and friend. PHTA was able to make huge strides for the betterment of our entire industry thanks to her leadership and vision.”

Ed Gibbs was named Builder of the Year. The president/CEO of Toronto-based Gib-San Pool and Landscape Creations, a PSN Top 50 Builder, is past president of the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada, as well as Past Chairman of Master Pools Guild. He currently serves as a member of MPG's Executive Committee. This honor is given to a PHTA member builder who has advanced the profession.

Javier Payan is the 2023 Service Professional of the Year. The president/CEO of PSN Top 50 Service Company Payan Pools of San Diego has more than 35 years of industry experience. He was instrumental in starting up PHTA's San Diego Chapter, of which he is currently president. This recognition is given to those who have advanced the service profession.

Travis Hogan has been designated PHTA Retailer of the Year for 2023. The honor recognizes a retailer who has advanced the retail profession. Hogan serves on the PHTA Retail Council, and his company, Fiesta Pools & Spas in Tulsa, Okla., previously received MPG's Leading EDGE Award.

Lance Irby of Sacramento, Calif.-based Premier Pools & Spas has been named PHTA's Young Professional of the Year for 2023. This honor goes to forward-thinking industry leaders less than 40 years old. He has worked for Premier for more than 10 years and earned his Certified Master Pool Builder & Design Professional designation from PHTA/Genesis.

PHTA's Volunteer of the Year Award went to Bob Blanda. The owner of Mill Bergen Pools in Brooklyn, N.Y. has served in several leadership roles with PHTA, including as Chair of its Education Committee, and a member of its Board of Directors, as well as the Builders Coujncil and three-time Chair of the Metro Chapter. He will serve as builder representative on the association's Technical Advisory Council.

PHTA also names a Chapter of the Year. For 2023, the honor went to the Midwest Chapter. "The PHTA Midwest Chapter serves as a model for other chapters through its strong leadership, increased activity, and creative member engagement programs," the organization said.