There is an old quote that says, “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.”

To find a perfect example, look no further than the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Since the Consumer Products Safety Commission failed to live up to its legal obligation to educate consumers and industry professionals about the law, the net result is hopeless confusion for all who are touched by this folly.

In Washington as well as the 50 states, we see stumbling governmental agencies attempting, too late, to make implementation sense out of a law seemingly written with the sole intent of creating a legal Rubik’s Cube. No matter how we come at it, this problem stubbornly refuses to be solved.

In all fairness, the end result of the VGB Act could have been worse. But had the pool and spa industry been prepared by years of professional lobbying in the halls of Washington — and had it then really considered itself an “industry,” and not just a collection of somewhat related businesses — the outcome could have been far better for pool safety, and for the companies who do make up this industry.

As it was, those thrown into the fray at the 11th hour did about as good a job in shaping the legislation as could have been expected under the circumstances.

The problem I have observed closely for 35-plus years as the pool industry’s only veteran professional legislative advocate is the lack of a common industry culture. Unlike most industries whose members belong to a largely common world, pool business professionals tend to view themselves as “builders,” “manufacturers,” “service technicians,” “spa dealers,” “retailers,” “designers” and so on. Had the pool and spa business had an industry culture, they would have long ago realized that what hurts one sector ultimately hurts every sector equally.

Moving forward, we must begin to work together, as a collective, to stop this from happening the next time major legislation comes down the pipe.

Today we are seeing industry associations in regions such as Florida, the Northeast and Texas organizing

to protect their members’ interests. These government relations programs are being smartly built for the

long haul.

The pool and spa industry couldn’t have better news.

We are now in a down market, but that’s the best time to get organized and funded for the battles that will come our way when the economy eventually improves.