A Dynamic Industry Duo

Img 0030 Headshot
Spotlight 221 Tile

T. Robert (Bob) Baron III (left) and Larry Biscornet (right)T. Robert (Bob) Baron III (left) and Larry Biscornet (right)

Any timeline of pool and spa industry history would be incomplete without the contributions of two late legends, T. Robert (Bob) Baron III and Larry Biscornet.

Baron and Biscornet were dedicated mentors, passionate committee organizers and the best of friends. Both gentlemen owned pool businesses in the New York City area β€” Baron Pool Service in Ramsey, N.J. and LBI Pools in New Rochelle, N.Y., respectively β€” and passed within the same month. They were both honored with PHTA's Certified Building Professional Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

Both Baron and Biscornet served on the APSP (now PHTA) Education Committee alongside Ken Suzuki, an APSP national staff member and committee liaison from 1993-2009. Suzuki first met them in the winter of 1993-94, and subsequently worked with the dynamic duo for 16 years.

"It was such a productive time. Bob and Larry truly took a lot of young leaders under their wings," Suzuki says. "At trade shows and committee meetings, everybody knew who they were. And those two were always together. They were ubiquitous."

COMMITTEES, COUNCILS AND CO-AUTHORSHIP

Baron and Biscornet were industry crusaders, tirelessly advocating for education, professional development, association involvement and service sector representation. They served countless hours on many national, regional and local chapter-level committees.

Biscornet was "a task master" at committee meetings, making sure everyone stayed on their toes and met their deadlines. Baron was famous for his zealous approach to his duties as the sergeant at arms.

"They both had a tremendous sense of humor, and they just loved people," Suzuki says. "And they were all business when it came to getting tasks completed and promoting the work of the council or committee they were serving on."

"Bob would take notes during each meeting to make sure everybody showed up on time, had a copy of the agenda, and presented their work well. If you said anything disparaging to anyone else or any other organization, he made a note of it. If you spoke out of turn or showed up late, he would write you up and give you a $2 fine. Or you might get a $5 credit for doing a good job."

RELATED: PHTA Announces 2020 Certified Building Professional Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

At the end of each meeting, Baron would give his report on the fines and credits. The money was then collected and donated to a charity of the committee's choice.

"It was one of the highlights of every meeting," Suzuki says. "It was something people grew to look forward to, because it was so much fun."

Thanks to their participation on those committees and councils, Baron and Biscornet were instrumental in developing many of the educational training manuals that the APSP produced in the 1990s. Notably, they were among the co-authors of the APSP Builders Manual and the APSP Service Manual.

Bob and Larry were also centrally involved in the development and management of The Pool and Spa Expo's educational demonstration site, or live workshops.

"Every year, they helped coordinate the actual building of a swimming pool right there on the exhibit floor," Suzuki says. "The program drew a lot of interest, and took a lot of preparation."

CREATING A VOICE FOR SERVICE

Prior to 1996-97, the APSP did not have a Service Council. Until that point, the service segment of the industry was represented within the Retail Council, according to Suzuki.

Around this time, Biscornet was appointed the first division director of APSP membership's service segment. Alongside other service professionals, he lobbied for the creation of a new board seat to represent the service sector. Biscornet wanted to build a council that would fully represent the concerns and issues of service professionals across the country.

"During that winter, Larry, Bob and I worked together β€” we got on the phones, we got on our emails, and we set out to meet Larry's goal," Suzuki says. "He wanted to have somebody represented on the Service Council from each of the 11 regions of APSP at that time.

"We were able to recruit members from all 11 regions to serve on the first roster of the APSP Service Council. That was quite an achievement, and it was an exciting time to help make that happen."

Biscornet ultimately appointed Baron as the first chairman of the newly minted Service Council.

"It was a lot of fun working with Bob and Larry β€” I miss them very much," Suzuki says. "They had such a love for the industry, and they were truly wonderful resources. I'm so glad that they've been recognized by these achievement awards."


This article first appeared in the February 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine β€” the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.

Page 1 of 236
Next Page
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide