The Independent Pool & Spa Service Association, the largely California-based industry association, is growing — and plans to expand toward the East Coast.

The organization kicked off its expansion efforts by exhibiting at the Pool & Spa Show in Atlantic City in January, the largest regional trade show on the East Coast. Encouraged by interest from local organizations and service professionals, January's show marked the first time IPSSA has exhibited at the Pool & Spa Show.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to exhibit at the NESPA Show in Atlantic City this year, for the first time ever,” says John Oldfield, Region 10 director and head of the IPSSA Expansion Committee. “We had conversations with dozens of pool and spa service professionals who were very interested in learning about how IPSSA might be able to help their businesses. We also started preliminary discussions with NESPA to see how our organizations can work together to improve our industry as a whole.”

Kelly McKelvey, director of communications and marketing for NESPA, welcomes the effort. "It is a part of our strategic plan, as an association, to build relationships with like-minded industry organizations to better the industry and make NESPA a better, stronger organization for our members. IPSSA definitely falls into this category and our two organizations will look at opportunities to work together in the future.”

New territories call for new approaches to building a service organization, notes Ray Arouesty of Arrow Insurance. Arouesty works closely with IPSSA and has been intimately involved in negotiating insurance for IPSSA service professionals for the past 29 years. “It is obvious that the chapter model used in states like Texas, Florida and California is not the model for potential chapters in the Northeast," he says. "We are excited about the opportunity to offer the benefits of IPSSA to our service professionals in the Northeast. We realize that the single-poler-model might not work for the majority of service professionals in the northeast but are looking into ways to offer the insurance and educational benefits of IPSSA. It is a part of the five-year strategic plan for IPSSA.”

IPSSA's main goal, Oldfield notes, is to solve industry issues specific to those who service swimming pools and spas. For example, the organization offers training materials to facilitate education as well as sick-route coverage — when covered service techs fall ill or are injured, fellow IPSSA members cover his/her routes, much like a substitute teacher filling in.

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"Right now we are laying the groundwork for the expansion of IPSSA and realize that understanding the different regional needs is key," Oldfield says. "We have already had service professionals around the country take advantage of our training materials and insurance offerings by becoming ‘affiliate’ members, that, for just under $175.00 annually, gives them access to the resources of our organization, including a subscription to monthly publication, the IPSSAN. Our monthly newspaper not only includes articles specific to the concerns of the service professional, but also is a place where service professionals exchange ideas and information."

IPSSA is setting up new chapters around the country and also welcomes individuals as associate members. To learn more about the membership options and benefits of IPSSA, visit their website at www.ipssa.org.