By Jim McCloskey
Before I headed to New Orleans early in November, I contacted Bill Drakeley and Dave Peterson to see if they were available for dinner on Sunday night before the show opened.
They were, and we met in a little bistro near the hotel where they were staying. I wanted more information about their new Watershape University, its relationships with other organizations and its ambitions moving forward. I had no inkling that, within days after the show concluded, they’d suggest purchasing WaterShapes.com and all of its assets.
Their offer came at the perfect time for me, because I had been preparing to make 2020 the year in which I’d plan an eventual exit strategy from WaterShapes. As those of you who’ve followed these blogs know, I’ve spent a month in each of the last two summers flat on my back recovering from damage I’ve done to my lower spine through years of being an athlete, writer and editor. I’d made a list of prospects in the publishing world and a couple of web-based enterprises and had contacted two of those firms to preview the concept of an acquisition.
Nothing I heard about the potential directions in which they would take WaterShapes made me happy. Nothing at all.
And this all came in context of the fact that my wife retired from her profession two years ago after 22 years as an elementary school teacher. She’s so happy work-free that I confess to a bit of envy – and stepping away from my daily grind became an even harder possibility to resist when I learned we had a third grandchild on the way, a fact that meant Judy would be on the road a lot and having tons of fun without me.
For the record, I was blown away by Watershape University’s interest. First, I have immense respect for Bill and Dave and the integrity they’ve helped build into the Genesis University program in recent years. Second, and as I learned in detail over what proved a fateful dinner, their new program builds on a set of principles I have long endorsed. Third, I know that what they’re doing points watershaping in a positive, sustainable direction based on meaningful, readily understood certifications linked to top-flight education.
WaterShapes is one more channel for that education – and, clearly, a great potential advocate for the University and its International Watershape Institute. I liked everything I learned, in other words, and when they contacted me about acquiring not only WaterShapes but also the WaterShapes Professional Network, I was thrilled beyond my wildest imaginings.
It’s not often that an entrepreneur gets the chance at a legacy that reaches beyond the limits of his or her business. I had begun to suspect that, at some point, my best shot at retirement came in pulling the plug and walking away. But that was never anything I wanted to do, and as I learned, Bill and Dave had a vision of their own future with Watershape University that was inextricably tied into WaterShapes rolling along with it.
My hat is off to them: Together, we will continue on the path that led to the first edition of WaterShapes in February 1999; on the course I plotted when the magazine ceased publication in 2011 to create a wide, varied and deep web site as an information resource for watershapers and consumers; and when we launched the WaterShapes Professional Network in 2016 to ease initial contacts between watershapers and consumers who needed help in bringing water into their lives.
As newly designated Editor-in-Chief for as long as my services are required, I’m so happy I could burst!
I mentioned recently that my old friends have been thin on the ground during recent International Pool|Spa|Patio Expos – and nothing I witnessed at this year’s edition changed that observation in any way. I counted longtime acquaintances on one hand through the duration of the show and noticed that, even in the supplier booths, the faces are no longer as familiar as they once were.
It’s a passing of the torch to be sure, and it makes me nostalgic. But I am also heartened that the new folks I’ve been meeting seem energetic and engaged and have their eyes set on a bright future for an industry I’ve come to respect, admire and love in more than 34 years of my own participation.
Here’s a salute to old friends – and to embracing a promising, exciting future!