February 1, 2015
By Jason Cramp
After three years in Niagara Falls, Ont., the 2014 Canadian Pool & Spa Conference & Expo returned to the Toronto Congress Centre—a convention hall familiar to many in the industry as it hosted the show for many years prior to 2010.
“Despite following in the wake of a relatively challenging pool and spa/hot tub season, which many experienced throughout much of Canada, the show drew a healthy turnout of 1833 participants. Attendees came from all 10 provinces and 22 U.S. states,” said the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada’s (PHTCC’s) executive director, Robert Wood.
Although the PHTCC, organizers of the show, has seen attendance increase between 2010 and 2013, this year’s turnout fell by 8.35 per cent.
“Given the challenging year many in the industry experienced we were quite pleased with the show,” said David Warren (Total Tech Pools & Leisure), PHTCC national president. “We also recognize the need to constantly improve and always seek input on ways to accomplish this.”
The 2014 expo showcased the products and services of 134 companies, while representatives from 383 dealers, contractors, builders, and service companies explored the expo over its two-day staging.
“This year, the Canadian pool and spa/hot tub show was electrified with optimism for 2015 and for the future of the pool and spa market,” said SCP/Pool Corp.’s Ted Lawrence. “Show vendors continue to bring their ‘A’ game with new and innovative products that will take attendees’ businesses to the next level.”
Learn the tricks of the trade
After enhancing the seminar program for the 2013 show, the 2014 educational portion of the conference was expanded again to be more comprehensive. It included a total of 13 seminars, seven courses, and one roundtable discussion. One course, which has become a staple of the Canadian conference, is the two-day Certified Pool/Spa Operator® (CPO®) certification program that has always proved to be popular. Attendance was also strong for many of the short courses as well, which included topics on ‘Hot Tub/Spa Service and Maintenance,’ ‘Safety in Our Backyards,’ Advanced Water Chemistry,’ ‘Pool Operation,’ Spa Pack and Pump Troubleshooting,’ and ‘Automation—Basic Operation and Programming.’
A number of business- and technical-themed seminars were also offered. Some of the topics included Omni-Channel retail, waterslide inspection, maintenance and repairs, troubleshooting metal stains, vinyl liner manufacture and maintenance, measuring vinyl liners, project management, and water clarity.
“My seminar (The Importance of Water Clarity in Pools) was well attended and there were plenty of engaging questions,” said SeaKlear’s Terry Arko. “This shows the Canadian industry is focused on solutions for their customers.”
According to Lawrence, the retailers who attended his seminar were fully engaged and willing to execute a strategy to make their business the leading retailer in their marketplace.
“They were hungry for information that would give them a competitive advantage over their traditional competitors as well as mass/Internet retailers,” he added.
The ‘Hot Topics—Hot Breakfast’ sessions was also a part of the 2014 show. This format provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to network and learn from their peers. Four topics were tabled for discussion, including the future of retail for the pool and spa industry, retail operations—how to compete and flourish in 2015, technical issues and construction concerns, and safety issues, including jobsite safety, liability, legislation, and waivers. Each discussion was led by an assigned moderator, including David Simek (Lawrason’s Pool Products); Warren (Total Tech Pools & Leisure); Emmett DeAngelis (Precision Pools by Triple A); Rodney Taylor (Sunshine Pool & Mechanical Contractors); Brent Winnitoy (Aquafun Family Pools & Spas Ltd.); and Steve Galbraith (G&G Pool ‘n’ Spa Contracting).“The course and seminar offerings addressed a broad range of technical, business, and safety-related topics and more than 300 individuals took advantage of these training and educational opportunities,” said Wood.
The industry awards evening, sponsored by BioLab Canada Inc., a KIK Custom Products Company, Latham Pool Products Inc., Northeastern Swimming Pool Distributors Inc., Pentair Aquatic Systems, Rheem Canada Ltd., and SCP Distributors LLC, was held in the Toronto Congress Centre’s Cohen Ballroom and was again a popular social event.
During the plated dinner, members of the PHTCC took the time to announce two special initiatives for 2015. Simek, the council’s 2014 president, presented the PHTCC’s Industry Trade Certification Program, which aims to provide members the ability to become certified as ‘Specialists’ and ‘Experts’ after successfully completing a range of educational offerings. The second announcement was unveiled by Richard Gottwald, president and CEO of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP), a special guest to the proceedings. Gottwald and Wood announced and signed a new partnership agreement that will see the two organizations work together on many fronts.
“We are delighted with the formalization of our close relationship with the APSP,” said Wood. “In addition to expanding the level of service offered to members, this agreement will help foster efforts to collaborate on policy development, and thereby serve to further advocacy efforts on key issues of mutual interest. This is a monumental step forward for the industry in North America.”
According to the PHTCC, involvement in its 2014 Design & Construction Awards competition, sponsored by Pool & Spa Marketing and Pools, Spas & Patios, neared 300 entries and participants were widespread across Canada. Thirty-nine companies received gold, silver, and bronze awards for their exceptional work in more than 40 different categories. A pictorial of the gold-winning projects can be found starting on page 46.
The final announcement made by the PHTCC board of directors was the return of the Canadian Pool & Spa Conference & Expo to the Scotiabank Convention Centre (SCC) in Niagara Falls, Ont., where the show has had success in recent years. The 2015 show is scheduled to take place Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.
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