As the industry digested the news this week that there will be no structural unification of APSP and NSPF, several questions have emerged. Among them — Why were the two boards unable to reach goals set forth in April, 2016, despite significant motivations? Where does the matter stand at present? What are the prospects going forward?
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We asked Bruce Dunn and Jack Manilla, NSPF and APSP board presidents, respectively, to address these issues head-on in a short Q&A:
Jack Manilla (APSP): We really wanted to make this happen. I've been a member of APSP for 22 years, and I've had a working and business relationship with NSPF for a long time — I've been an NSPF-certified instructor for 10 years — and so I'd thought about this for a long time. The idea of getting these two organizations together has been near and dear to me for years, it wasn't something somebody thought of in April last year.
But as we went through the process, we just came to an impasse, and we couldn't get past it, and that's where we are.
Bruce Dunn (NSPF): It's not a matter of "what went wrong." As a matter of fact, I’ve had people say to me, "Gee, are you disappointed with the outcome?" And the answer is no, that’s not the case. It isn’t a question of right or wrong. It's more a question of the magnitude of putting these two organizations together under a single umbrella. And that would be irrespective of the tax laws and all the government mumbo jumbo that’s there.
Where does the relationship stand at the moment?
Jack Manilla: Conversations are continuing on ways to grow the industry, and going forward, we plan to meet face-to-face again with NSPF to go over the progress we made and assess the possibilities, because that's our real goal, to raise the tide for everyone, so all boats go up, regardless of what segment of the industry you're in: builders, manufacturers, distributors, dealers, service companies, swim instructors...
Are there any ways you’ve identified for working together in the future?
Bruce Dunn: I would suspect that in the area of education programs, that as we get to know each other’s programs and the way they provide opportunities for the industry, there will probably be something in there. APSP, for example, has been supportive of the Foundation’s Step Into Swim program, and those are the kinds of programs where APSP has a large, broad-base membership, as opposed to the Foundation, which is just that, a foundation, and it doesn’t have that membership base. So the ability to work together in those types of aquatic industry programs could be a good, solid start.
No hard feelings?
Bruce Dunn: Well I certainly hope not. No, I don’t know of any of that. In fact, I’d like to emphasize the mutual respect that’s developed between the two organization’s boards. That was started in April and continued for the last eight months and there’s a real value to that as we go forward with our collaborative efforts.
Jack Manilla: We're not mad at each other. In the end, instead of agreeing to agree, we agreed to disagree, but we're still friends. And APSP is continuing to look at other organizations, beyond NSPF, to find ways we might work together and grow the industry.
Any chance this could be revisited down the line?
Bruce Dunn: I think that would be something that both organizations would look forward to. As a matter of fact, I made explicitly sure in the press release we put out that there was something that talked about the opportunity for getting to the goal line in the future. This is, I suppose you could say, "disappointing" in the short term, but it's encouraging from a long-term standpoint.
Jack Manilla: I've not given up on this. I like to say, "the critical time is now," but sometimes you have to go slow, and sometimes you just have to stop and wait. It could be several years before a merger could yet occur, but not right now. For now, we're looking for bipartisan collaboration opportunities.