Association of Pool & Spa Professionals
APSP’s mission is to promote consumer safety and enhance the business success of its members. Members adhere to a code of business ethics and share a commitment to public health and safety in the use of pools, spas and hot tubs. APSP member companies include manufacturers, distributors, manufacturers' agents, designers, builders, installers, retailers, and service professionals.
APSP Regions and Affiliates Each region has chapters, which serve members on a local level.
NESPA / Region 1 (Affiliate of APSP) – Connecticut, New Jersey, Eastern New York, Eastern Pennsylvania
APSP Region 2 – Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia
APSP Region 3 – Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming
APSP Region 5 – Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
APSP Region 6 – Kentucky, Michigan, Western New York, Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia
APSP Region 9 – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
APSP Region 10 – Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
APSP Northwest Region – Alaska, Northern California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington
APSP Southwest Region– Arizona, Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah
Manufacturers' Agents Council
1950s The pool industry was in its infancy in the ‘50s. Considered a luxury only the wealthy could afford, swimming pools were built primarily by engineers and craftspeople who had branched out from the construction industry. In 1956, a small group of men met in Chicago to discuss formation of a pool trade association. By 1957, the National Swimming Pool Institute, as it was dubbed, had its first president – Bob Hoffman. Seven regional groups joined NSPI and its first convention was slated for Houston. By the end of 1958, Chicago-based NSPI had grown to 600 members in 38 states.
1960s In 1963, NSPI named its first full-time executive director, Robert Steel. He would go on to serve the group for the next 20 years. In the early to mid-1960s, the industry began growing as pool sales took off, and NSPI’s founding fathers had a decision to make: Should the organization go national? Small trade groups, such as the Swimming Pool Association of Southern California, were serving local needs and running regional shows, but sentiment was growing for a national trade group. At this time, NSPI also began trying to gather industry statistics and formulate construction and chemical standards.
1970s The industry entered this decade in fine shape – some said 1971 was the best year yet. NSPI wanted to keep pace with the growth by expanding as well, but debate ensued over membership criteria. Some thought membership should be limited to companies that had never experienced complaints, while others believed NSPI should be open to anyone wanting to join. This was key because at the time, the industry was struggling with an image problem due to many unscrupulous pool contractors using bait-and-switch ads. Things got so bad that NSPI asked for help from the FTC, which eventually held a nationally televised hearing. Robert Steel, then NSPI executive vice president, spoke at the hearing, advocating stricter law enforcement and stronger licensing requirements.
1980s This decade began on an up note as well. NSPI’s national show in Washington, D.C., drew 9,507 people in ‘80 – the largest trade show ever held in the nation’s capital. The following year, NSPI Region 1 voted to hold its own trade show in Atlantic City, N.J., and the popular regional show is an annual event to this day. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, sales of portable spas exploded and retail stores devoted to the product popped up nationwide. To reflect the new industry sector, the NSPI Board unanimously approved a name change in 1980 – from the National Swimming Pool Institute to the National Spa & Pool Institute. At this time, water safety and liability issues surfaced, resulting in the launch of the Operation Water Watch program; in ’89, NSPI produced a dozen PSAs about diving and drowning prevention.
1990s NSPI threw itself into promotional campaigns in the ‘90s. For example, with the Arthritis Foundation, it publicized the benefits of spas; launched the “Luvin’ the Tub” spa tour to nine cities; placed ads in magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, as well as TV commercials and a series of prepackaged articles on the value of pool and spa ownership. The industry was growing, but trouble was brewing on the horizon. American society was becoming more litigious, and product-liability lawsuits increased dramatically in the mid-1980s and early ’90s. One case, in particular, had a huge impact on NSPI. In 1993, 16-year-old Sean Meneely became a quadriplegic after diving into a neighbor’s pool. His family sued the pool builder, the diving board manufacturer and NSPI. In 1998, a jury awarded the Meneelys $11 million and found NSPI liable for 60 percent of that amount ($6.6 million), even though the pool wasn’t built according to NSPI standards.
2000s Going into the 21st century, NSPI underwent some major transformations, including changing its name and structure. After losing its appeals in the Meneely lawsuit of 1998 and a follow-up petition for review of the case in 2001, NSPI filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. That same year, the association sold its Expo to Hanley Wood, LLC. In 2007, NSPI emerged from bankruptcy with the name “Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.” (It also formed the International Aquatics Foundation to handle technical issues and standards, but IAF was incorporated into APSP in 2005.) A move by Regions 1 and 7 to become APSP affiliates NESPA and FSPA was finalized in 2003; currently, FSPA is an independent group, serving pool and spa professionals in Florida. In 2006, APSP merged its three Western regions into the Northwest and Southwest regions. Suction entrapment came to national attention in 2002, when 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker, granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, died as the result of a spa entrapment. There was a water safety hearing in Washington and then, in 2006, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (aka VGBA) went into effect.
Bill Weber, president/CEO
Carvin DiGiovanni, senior technical director
Kirstin Pires, director of communications
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP)
2111 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 500
Alexandria, VA 22314-4695