By Jim McCloskey
I’m almost ready to board a plane for my trip to New Orleans and the 2019 International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo, and I have to say I haven’t been this curious about what’s going to happen at a trade show for many, many years.
Change is definitely in the wind these days – with Genesis in identifying its path forward; with the newly constituted Pool & Hot Tub Alliance in introducing its fresh leadership; and with a noteworthy changing of the guard within the industry itself. I have to say I’ll arrive in the Big Easy with an unusual number of questions in mind.
q The biggest one for me is about what’s going on with Genesis, an organization for which I’ve had a special affinity for more than 20 years. I can’t tell from my seat in the bleachers whether what’s happening is the sort of evolutionary change I’ve mentioned in a couple of recent blogs or is instead a splintering of the group into separate factions that might not harmonize with one another.
I may not know much more by the time I leave New Orleans, but my eyes and ears will certainly be open.
q As someone who first became involved in the pool industry just a short while after the National Swimming Pool Institute changed its name for the first time to become the National Spa & Pool Institute, I am also curious to know how things are going with the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance – a new name, a new leader and new responsibilities based on the merging of the National Swimming Pool Foundation with the (NSPI-rebranded) Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.
After many years of heavy involvement with NSPI, I backed away entirely once I left Pool & Spa News in 1995 and decided in starting WaterShapes in 1998 that I wasn’t going to rebuild those ties. WaterShapes, after all, was to be for and about designers and builders, and I agreed with Skip Phillips and Genesis that, at the time, NSPI wasn’t what you’d call a progressive force in aquatic design or construction.
I know that NSPI and its APSP reincarnation have both tried to upgrade their credibility among builders since the advent of Genesis, but I never saw their efforts as more than a shadow of what Genesis was doing. I have no clear sense of what mark PHTA will try to make moving forward; all I know so far is that whatever it’s doing seems to be creating earthquakes within a Genesis organization I had hoped PHTA would embrace, encourage and help to grow.
Again, I don’t know what I’ll think after seeing what transpires in New Orleans, but I certainly hope to be more optimistic than I currently am by the time I head back home.
q Through the last few IPSPE gatherings, I have noticed a distinct decline in the number of people I would consider to be old friends in attendance at the show. Last year in Las Vegas, for example, I could count on a hand or two the number of people I saw who were around when I attended my first Expo in 1986.
Partly, of course, it’s that I’m no longer as young as I once was; partly it’s because those who befriended me early on tended to be older than I was, sometimes considerably so. But the main point is that, at its core, the industry is turning over new leaves – and I tend to think that’s a good thing.
So while I hope New Orleans has the power to attract some of my old friends, I know that’s wishful thinking and that they’ll be thin on the ground again next month. But I’ll be there, ready to greet them if they show up, and also ready to renew more recent acquaintances and start some new ones!
Wherever you fit on that spectrum, please do stop by Booth #2253 in the Genesis Pavilion to say hello!