A large proportion of the industry's most experienced veterans are expected to retire in the next few years. This fact raises the pressing questions: Who will replace them? And how are we developing the next generation of leaders?

Those were the issues at hand as a promising group of young industry professionals traveled to Zodiac Pool Systems’ headquarters in Vista, Calif., to network, discuss ideas, brainstorm solutions and learn more about manufacturing in the pool and spa industry. The gathering marked the first Behind the Scenes event organized by APSP’s WAVE Young Professionals Network.

The event kicked off with an evening networking session and dinner, followed by a full day on Zodiac’s campus learning from company leaders including CEO Bruce Brooks; Michelle Kenyon, vice president of marketing; and Keith McQueen, executive vice president of innovation. These sessions addressed a wide scope of subjects, including upcoming new products, the production process, marketing and business management. Attendees were also treated to a comprehensive tour of the manufacturing center to see firsthand how pool and spa products are created.

Throughout the event, the Zodiac team facilitated lively discussions with WAVE members about pressing industry issues including recruitment and hiring of qualified staff, better training methods and how to bring new talent to the industry.

“Zodiac was thrilled to host the first-ever Behind the Scenes WAVE event. We’re a proud sponsor of the WAVE Young Professionals Network and were especially excited to help nurture the amazing talent in our industry’s emerging young leaders,” says Michelle Kenyon, vice president of marketing for Zodiac. “I personally appreciate the opportunity to serve on the WAVE committee. Connecting, training, and mentoring the next generation is something we take seriously and we will continue to do so in the future.”

The WAVE Network was born in 2012 as a way for the next generation of pool and spa professionals to connect, share ideas and create future leaders. The Zodiac event was the group’s first Behind the Scenes event, which APSP hopes will continue with other manufacturers.

“I've been with APSP for six years and I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm the WAVE network has brought to the organization,” says Andrea Wells, senior manager of marketing and communications for APSP. “Through managing the WAVE Network from the APSP staff level, I've see firsthand how the group has ushered in this change by connecting energetic and passionate young professionals. The Zodiac event provided an amazing template for other groups to follow who are interested in supporting young professionals' understanding of the pool and hot tub supply chain. We hope to garner even more support for our activities beyond the Zodiac Behind the Scenes event and the ongoing sponsorship of Lonza.”

To learn more about the WAVE Network, click here.