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APSP, NSPF Announce Merger

The chairmen of the boards of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) and the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) stressed the need to bring together a fragmented industry after the two organizations announced a merger agreement Monday.

Both boards met last week in Colorado Springs, Colo., and finalized the merger agreement last Friday, Bruce Dunn, chairman of the NSPF board of directors, told Athletic Business.

“If you took a look at the two boards, a consolidated voice that comes from both our perspectives is probably better for the industry long-term,” Dunn said. “Instead of two quiet voices, it’s one voice that roars.”

Details about the merger still need to be ironed out through due diligence, such as the name of the combined organizations and the structure of the leadership.

Related: APSP & NSPF Boards Agree to Unify

In a joint statement Monday, Dunn and Richard Garbee, chairman of the board of the APSP, said the aquatics industry “has seen dramatic changes over the past 10 years.”

“If you look at the swimming pool and spa industry and the aquatics industry at large, it felt very fragmented to us for an extended period of time,” Garbee told Athletic Business. “We felt there was some unified leadership that we had the potential to create and provide through a merger of the two entities to help us grow the industry. It’s two very healthy organizations who have a desire to serve the industry in a better way.”

The merger of the two non-profit organizations does not reflect a sale of one to the other, Dunn said, who added the transaction “is truly a merger of equals.”

The NSPF is based in Colorado Springs. Formed in 1963, the NSPF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides educational products and programs to the industry. Its Step into Swim campaign that it created in 2012 is designed to create 1 million more swimmers in 10 years. Last year, Genesis, the education and design organization that serves the residential pool and spa sector, merged with NSPF.

The APSP, a 501(c)(6) non-profit based in Alexandria, Va., represents swimming pool, hot tub, and spa manufacturers, among other professionals. The APSP, which Garbee says has about 3,000 members, is recognized by the American National Standards Institute to develop and promote national standards for pools, hot tubs and spas. 

The APSP was founded in 1956 as the National Spa and Pool Institute. The name change occurred after it emerged from a bankruptcy reorganization following a $6.6 million verdict in a lawsuit filed by the family of a boy who was paralyzed in a 1991 diving accident at a friend’s pool.

Dunn said the merger will increase support of codes and regulations that will keep swimming pools open and swimmers safe. Another reason for the merger, Dunn acknowledged, is to reduce some of the acronym confusion as to what each organization does in the aquatics industry.

“In an industry that’s known for fragmentation, this is a direction that is completely opposite,” said Dunn, who was named board chairman last November and also is co-owner of Mission Pools, Escondido, Calif. “We believe that a more uniformed presentation will show that it is capable of producing a stronger position for the pool industry out to the public. The job of either of these organizations in their own way is to create more swimmers, get more people in the water.

“We’ve seen how much the industry strained from 2008 forward and the fact that it bottomed out between 2011 and 2012,” Dunn added. “It was shrink, shrank, shrunk. Now we’re past shrunk, and we’re back into a slow growth. This (merger) is the right thing to do for two organizations for the collective success of not the organizations but the aquatic industry. That’s pretty exciting.”

Garbee added: “We’re incredibly excited about it. We think there is a huge opportunity for the industry as a whole. We want to put people in a position to love swimming more than they already do and love being in the water more than they already do.”

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