The lobbying organization for California’s pool and spa industry is changing its name and role after 40 years.

The California Spa & Pool Education Council, known as SPEC, seeks to make its name clearer and more inclusive of various segments of the industry. As such, it now will be called the California Pool & Spa Association.

Times have changed since 1973, when SPEC was founded to fight the threat of emergency regulations banning gas pool heaters. Originally meant as a temporary solution, the group has continued to address legislation and regulation involving licensing and the underground economy, chemical handling, taxation, employment and other issues affecting the industry.

“Back then [the name SPEC] had a little closer connotation to what we were trying to do,” said SPEC Chairman Mike Geremia, also president of Sacramento, Calif.-based Geremia Pools. “But today [the industry has] new people, and I think they’ll identify very easily with an organization called the California Pool & Spa Association because we’re trying to represent the whole industry in lobbying, and we’re going to try to help other organizations be more successful.”

The group expects the new name to better communicate its mission and who it represents, not only to the industry members who could contribute and benefit from its advocacy efforts, but also to the legislators and other government officials with whom the group must collaborate. Because the name didn’t strike many as self-explanatory, the group said, industry professionals didn’t always understand the role it plays.

“The result was that SPEC has been funded by a relatively small segment of the swimming pool and spa industry in California,” the group said in a press release.

The group is planning other changes to make membership more attractive to a broader spectrum of industry companies and professionals, such as adding new features to its website and providing to consumers the names of local builders who commit to CPSA’s consumer code of ethics. It also will provide its logo and tag line to members adhering to the code. “That provides a marketing opportunity to consumers for our members,” said John Norwood, CPSA’s president/ CEO.

Additionally, the CPSA plans to use its website as an informational hub, posting information from other organizations, such as when classes will take place. The organization intends to kick off its new website during the first quarter of 2014.

“We’re merely trying to allow ourselves to become a more stable organization and lean on more than one leg, that being the lobbying side,” Geremia said. “So we’re going to work to bring other parts of the industry together and work with the other associations, like APSP, IPSSA and all the groups so that we can make sure that our industry here in California is a little better informed, as well as allowing us to reach out to consumers.”

Geremia said the organization needs to build its base of builder, retailer and service members. Builder membership especially has gone down since the recession hit. And while the service segment provides significant support through its associations, it isn’t as well represented by the number individual firms that have signed up.

“We represent the whole cross section of the industry, from retailers to manufacturers’ reps and manufacturers of all sizes, distributors, builders and servicepeople,” Geremia said. “Consequently, you would expect our membership to reflect that, but it really doesn’t.”

Norwood and his lobbying firm, Sacramento-based Norwood & Associates, will continue to head CPSA’s government advocacy. To manage the website and other services, the group has enlisted Pam Vinje and her Houston-based digital media marketing firm, Small Screen Producer.

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