In addition to some 550 exhibitors showing their wares in more than 150,000 square feet for exhibition space, networking opportunities by the hundreds and other exciting events, the 2013 Int’l Pool | Spa | Patio Expo will be teeming with educational opportunities. Over the course of six days, seminars will be presented on everything from basic pool design, new business trends and soils to color theory, visual merchandizing and litigation.

Here is a preview of four of the sessions that will be presented:

Outlook for Housing and the U.S. Pool Market, Jonathan Smoke

How did the pool market perform in 2013? What will be the key markets going forward? Who are the people that own or are planning on building swimming pools, and what is the most effective way to reach them?

These questions, and more, will be answered in Jonathon Smoke’s 90-minute presentation. A nationally recognized expert on housing, Smoke is Hanley Wood’s chief economist and heads the company’s research, which covers new construction, remodeling, local market housing conditions, pool activity, and consumer demand. As a speaker, he is known for his ability to convey complex data in an understandable, and entertaining way.

“While the economy is not firing on all cylinders, the people that own pools tend to be higher income households and those people are doing quite well,” he said. “We’re far enough into the recovery that those people are feeling more confident about their own jobs, have had increases in their income and are not worried about their homes losing value anymore, so they have greater confidence in investing in new pool projects or making the most out of what they’ve got.”

In addition to reporting on the overall market and a forecast of 2014, Smoke will offer research and recommendations of effective ways of reaching those higher-income households.

“Just about every part of the country has recovery going on now,” he noted. “Whether you are in the top market or the worst, there are going to be insights shared at this presentation about where the activity is likely to be and, more importantly, who the people are who are doing these projects and how to reach them effectively.”

12 Myths of Water Quality Maintenance, Chris Golden

In this presentation, Chris Golden, vice president of sales, development and growth at Taylor Technologies, explores a dozen of the most common misconceptions connected with testing pool and spa water, and maintaining water quality.

One fallacy Golden will cover is the wide-spread belief that if you educate customers too much on water quality, those clients will drop your service and become DIYers, taking care of their water testing and quality maintenance themselves.

“Educated customers understand the value that the service technician brings to them,” Golden said. “They shouldn’t be scared of their customers becoming educated on what water chemistry is all about. We feel that it just makes them appreciate their service technician even more. It’s the ones that are not educated that will go on the internet and try to figure it out themselves, only to get more confused. The educated customers generally prefer to leave it to an experienced professional.”

These and other misconceptions of water quality maintenance will be covered in the 90-minute session. A veteran of the water treatment and chemical industries, Golden earned a chemical engineering degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., and worked as a field consultant for Nalco Chemical for 16 years. He has been actively involved with industry education and co-developed the APSP three-day Service Technician Training Program.

While the presentation is particularly relevant to service technicians, Golden believes pool contractors will also benefit from what he has to say.

“The session teaches a lot of chemistry, but covers the subject in a real down-to-earth, service technician type of framework. We’re not talking molecules and compounds and solutions. We’re talking real-life stuff that people in the pool and spa industry can use every day.”

The APSP/ANSI/ICC Energy Efficiency Certificate, Steve Barnes

This all-day class given by Steve Barnes, will cover everything a pool and spa professional – contractor or service technician – needs to know about the subject. Those attending the 8.0 technical credit-hour class will learn about properly sizing new equipment for greatest ROI and designing new hydraulic systems that will decrease energy consumption while increasing circulation and improving water quality. They will also get useful information on helping customers reach their efficiency goals, thereby maximizing profits and client satisfaction.

“We have a new way of looking at swimming pools and what it costs to own them,” said Barnes, safety compliance manager for Pentair and an industry veteran with some 20 patents to his name. “Basically, people will learn why and how energy is saved. We will show how much energy pools are wasting, on average, and how to look at a pool and determine if it makes economic sense to upgrade in some way. There are some pools where it makes sense and some where it doesn’t.

Some states – Florida and California in particular – have strict standards on energy efficiency and Barnes will show attendees how to document that their work is in compliance with those requirements. He will also offer important suggestions on creating relationships with building officials.

Using two different case studies, one published by the U.S. Department of Energy, Barnes will show how to conduct a comprehensive audit on an existing pool – how serious money can be saved, sometimes just by slowing down the pump.

“When we can show contractors real-world cases and encourage them to go out and prove it for themselves, they are able to show customers that, not only is this the right thing to do, but it will pay for itself.”

25 Ways to Grow Your Service Department, Matt Gohlke and Nathan Caldwell

Matt Gohlke and Nathan Caldwell know about service departments. Gohlke is president of Gohlke Pools, in Denton, Texas, which was founded by his father. A graduate of Texas Christian University with a business management degree, his company has received many national awards. Caldwell was a pool construction superintendent, then became a service technician for Gohlke Pools.

The firm has survived many up and down cycles of the U.S. economy. Several years ago, when it became clear that the economy was in heading down, the company’s management team made the conscious decision to beef up its service department. Prior to that, the firm emphasized the construction side of the business, which accounted for about two-thirds of the company’s revenue.

“Although we realized that pool owners would spend less on their pools during a poor economy, their pools still had to be serviced to some extent,” said Gohlke. We then moved forward and took actions that would result in substantial service department growth.”

Gohlke’s own service department has almost tripled over the last decade, having grown 294 percent in revenue from 2003 to 2012, with 2013 shaping up to be another double-digit growth year.

In “25 Ways to Grow Your Service Department,” they will share some of the business techniques things that worked for their company. The course covers how to successfully market a service department to pool owners, how to hire and train the right team, how to create procedures to operate efficiently and how to empower service technicians for success using today’s technology.