Calling all service technicians: The United Pool Association wants to recruit you.
The 26-year-old organization is doing a membership drive, backed by its insurance broker, USI Insurance Services, and its underwriter, the Fireman’s Fund. The latter has had a relationship with the association since 1958, when the founding chapter was part of another organization.
“If they want us to grow, I want to grow,” said UPA President Steve Homer. “[Previously], members just came to us because they liked what we do.”
For the past year, USI has been paying Homer’s expenses to exhibit at trade shows, including the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las Vegas.
Ron Carlson, senior vice president of USI in Los Angeles, said there’s one simple reason the insurance provider is putting up the money for recruitment efforts: UPA doesn’t have any. “The UPA is, without question, the most nonprofit, nonprofit,” he added.
Currently, the only money UPA takes in is advertising from its newsletter, which just pays for publishing costs. “I think at our last meeting, we had $800 in the bank,” Homer said. “As long as we have no money, there’s nothing to fight over.”
It’s a strategy that’s worked, and the association kept growing despite the fact it didn’t try to recruit new members before.
While there is no concrete membership goal for this effort, the organization plans to continue exhibiting at trade shows until its numbers grow. So far, the drive has attracted approximately 150 new members to the association, bringing the total to about 1,800, Homer said.
The association has more than 70 chapters, with most located in California, and a few in Arizona, Nevada and Texas. One goal is to expand the association nationally with this membership push.
UPA focuses on freedom at the chapter level and simplicity at the board level, Homer said.
“Chapters have to have nine meetings a year and pay their insurance on time,” he explained. Plus, “[if they have] a bunch of claims, we’ll throw them out.”
Other than that, all decisions are made on the local level. Some chapters collect a bit of extra money on top of the insurance costs to have a dinner or party during the holidays.
“There’s no governing body telling these people what to do,” Homer said.
Insurance decisions are made at the chapter level, too, with some carrying route insurance as part of members’ coverage, while others just have standard claim insurance.
And if a member isn’t happy with the chapter, there’s recourse. “If you don’t like the group you’re in, you can get 10 guys and start a new chapter,” Homer noted.
In addition to helping UPA recruit, USI also is funding an upgrade to the association’s website at www.unitedpoolassociation.org.
“We have a Web designer who’s working with them,” Carlson said. Enhancements include being able to access claim forms from the site, joining the association online and improving communications.