In the News: January 2002

10,000 in Phoenix for International Pool & Spa Expo

Aq 0102 106pg 0001Attendance figures have been released for the first International Pool & Spa Expo conducted under the aegis of Hanley-Wood, concluded Nov. 30 of last year. According to show director Rick McConnell, the four-day event drew 10,300 total participants (including exhibitors), a figure well short of previous years as well as preshow expectations.

As late as November 2001, show management expected as many as 18,000 participants. The falloff, according to Hanley-Wood's show management, was expected following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Still, some exhibitors cited the lower participant figures as a strong point of the show - praising the quality of attendees as serious buyers.

"The traffic was light, as we expected, but the attendees at the show were there to do business," says Mike Moore, vice president of marketing for Alpharetta, Ga.-based Advantis Technologies. "We found a lot of good leads from the show. People were focused with their time there."

Mike McCormick, International Pool & Spa Expo show director, concurs with Moore.

"There was a trend that companies sent fewer buyers in light of recent developments. I think the show withstood that. Those attending the show were good, quality buyers."

The presence of quality attendees notwithstanding, according to several exhibitors interviewed, success relied heavily on booth location, as the show was divided into two very different venues.

To help assure ample space for the show, both the Phoenix Civic Center and Bank One Ballpark were leased for exhibition space. Prior to the show, many thought Bank One Ballpark provided a unique and exciting venue for exhibitors. The results, however, were unsuccessful for some.

"The only inconvenience for us at the show was the two venues," says Moore. "It was just too spread out for a show that size." Other problems were cited, especially regarding the Bank One Ballpark facilities.

In the week preceding the Expo, roughly 4,400 planks of plywood were laid down to cover the turf underneath. However, moisture from the stadium's sprinkler system penetrated the plywood and caused it to warp. A second layer of plywood was laid, mitigating the problem to an extent, but the surface remained uneven. Bouncing and sometimes falling attendees were a topic of conversation throughout the show.

Another problem which plagued the ballpark facility was the long climb from the field/exhibitor level to the ballpark's main gate over uneven concrete steps. Senior attendees struggled noticeably to negotiate the ascent, as did Pool & Spa News editor Pervin Lakdawalla, who fell and broke her ankle traversing the steps.

In addition, a number of exhibitors complained they couldn't set up their booths properly due to tables and displays not being level. By show's time, it was too late for change.

"We were there Monday to set up. I needed two days and came in early to do it," says David Stern, president of California Specialties, a distributor of spa and pool products located in Morro Bay, Calif. "Once I got there, they were laying down a second layer of wood. I was told they would get to my booth sometime in the afternoon. However, I couldn't afford to wait as long as they needed.

They didn't get to our part until late in the afternoon . . . by that time, I was done for the day.

"I had to put my table onto an aisle so it was level. They forced me to move the table and threatened to make me leave the show."

McConnell stressed that such problems will be eliminated at next year's show in Dallas, which will all be under one roof. "In Dallas, the entire show will be on concrete!" he said.

The 2003 Expo is scheduled for New Orleans. The following year, Hanley-Wood will bring the show to AQUA International's traditional venue in Las Vegas. Dates for that show have yet to be released.

Advantis Updates Retailer Rewards Program

Advantis Technologies, a manufacturer of pool and spa chemicals based in Alpharetta, Ga., has updated its Retailer Rewards program for 2002.

The program rewards purchases of Advantis branded products from Applied Biochemists, GLB, Leisure Time, Robarb and Blue Devil. The more a dealer purchases in the program, the greater the reward. The top award - a four-day cruise package for two - can be obtained with a combined purchase of $20,000.

Other rewards offered in the program include gift certificates and product vouchers. For each $2,000 a dealer spends, $100 dollars worth of reward money can be used toward a future purchase or a $50 gift certificate from leading sports shops, restaurants, book and video stores and clothing stores may be chosen.

According to Mike Moore, vice president of marketing for Advantis, the program is finding great success. "We've had excellent response to the program so far," he says.

"There's that instant-gratification factor. When a dealer buys a product, all they have to do is mail in the proof of purchase and their reward is processed within three to four weeks' time."

Advantis is now offering additional rewards to those who are Preferred Dealers with the manufacturer.

Those interested in becoming Preferred Dealers must purchase $5,000 worth of Advantis products before Feb. 28, 2002, to become eligible for the year.

Preferred Dealers are entitled to a selection of several rewards including vacations, consumer mailers and consumer coupons. Preferred Dealers also receive a hot link on Advantis' Dealer Locator at

For more information on the program, contact Michael Moore at 770/521-5999, ext. 272.

SmartPool Forms Alliance with Maytronics

Lakewood, N.J.-based SmartPool, a manufacturer of lighting products, pool alarm systems, solar heating systems and robotic pool cleaners, announced a strategic alliance with Maytronics Ltd., an Israeli manufacturer of robotic cleaning systems.

According to SmartPool president Richard Holstein, under the terms of the agreement, SmartPool is now the licensed distributor for Maytronics Dolphin brand of robotic cleaners in North America.

Maytronics will continue to market the brand in Europe.

SmartPool has developed additional robotic models that will be introduced to North America, while Maytronics will introduce these new models in European markets.

Florida Builder Members Surveyed on Effects of 9/11

NSPI Florida has released the results of a survey of 268 of its members to determine the financial impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Approximately 20 percent of the builders responded to the survey, which focused on changes to the builders' economic climates since Sept. 11, and also in comparison with last year.

NSPI Florida president Jim Manning, Patio Pools, Tampa, Fla., said, "We are acutely aware of the potential for real impact on our industry's builders and we will repeat this survey several times over the next few months. NSPI Florida now has a benchmark and will monitor changes as we go into the buying season this spring."

Fifty percent of the respondents said that the number of leads and the number of signed contracts has stayed the same, but some 36 percent felt that it had decreased. Compared to a year ago, approximately 30 percent felt that the number of leads had stayed the same while 38 percent felt leads had decreased. Surprisingly, about 30 percent said that leads had increased.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said that prices had stayed the same since Sept. 11, while 23 percent said they'd seen an increase, as opposed to only 9 percent who reported a drop.

NSPI Florida Builder Survey

  Increased Stayed the Same Decreased
Since Sept. 11, the number of inquiries/ leads for new pools has 11% 53% 36%
Since Sept. 11, the number of signed contracts for new pools has 15% 49% 36%
Since Sept. 11, the closing ratio has 15% 55% 30%
Since Sept. 11, the average pool price has 23% 68% 9%
Compared to a year ago, the number of inquiries/leads for new pools has 30% 30% 38%
Compared to a year ago, the number of signed contracts for new pools has 31% 27% 42%

NSPI Reports Wide Audience for Public Service Announcements in 2001

According to information released by NSPI, the association's swimming pool safety public service announcements (PSAs) reached a combined radio and television broadcast audience of 213,466,800 this past summer.

"Every year our goal is to increase public awareness about water safety and encourage the safe use and enjoyment of swimming pools by distributing our PSAs to television and radio stations nationwide," said NSPI chief staff executive Jack Cergol.

From June 1 to Sept. 24, 2001, the PSAs aired 35,535 times, according to Cergol. During NSPI's 2000-2001 fiscal year, PSAs were distributed to 436 radio stations and 187 television stations - reaching more than 350 million listeners and viewers. Since the public service campaign began eight years ago, the PSAs have aired in 13 of the top 15 radio markets and 10 of the top 15 television markets.

Chief among the information communicated is the safety message that there is no substitute for adult supervision. "We continue to drive home the need for constant adult supervision and the layers-of-protection approach to prevent these preventable accidents," said Cergol.

Former AQUA International Speaker Peter Glen Dies

Peter Glen, author, motivational speaker and frequent guest at AQUA International Las Vegas, died unexpectedly in his home in Cloverdale, Calif., on Oct. 3. He was 62.

Glen was born in Milwaukee, Wis., studied literature at the University of Arizona, then moved to Australia before returning to New York, where he lived for 30 years. He is survived by a brother and two sisters.

Author of Adventures in Sales, Service and Self-Esteem, It's Not My Department, 10 Years of Peter Glen and Customer Service: Or Else!, Glen was renowned for an enthusiastic and engaging style that left a lasting impression on those who saw him speak. He commanded attention as soon as he leaped onto stage, always dressed in costume. Among his notable outfits were a cloud-patterned sports coat and a long-sleeve ivory shirt with an enormous red heart on the front.

He presented the keynote address at AQUA International five times, always drawing rave reviews for his ability to inspire spa and pool retailers to use their creativity to make changes and improve their stores.

"We're riding something that's changing so fast," Glen said about the retail environment in 1999, the last year he appeared at AQUA International. "You can choose to be either an agent of change or a victim of change. If you're not being proactive and leading change, it will happen to you anyway."

Among Glen's messages was that traditional notions about retailing were outdated and that depending solely on foot traffic for sales was a way of doing business that had passed. Or as he put it, "Location, location, location is dead, dead, dead."

Former AQUA editor Alan Sanderfoot recalls Glen's singular style: "No one was better at talking about the emotional side of business than Peter was. His presentations were so heartwarming that he could bring even the most worn out and cynical crowd of spa and pool dealers to tears, and then turn those tears into laughter and inspiration for improving one's business. He had a knack for getting in your face about everything you're doing wrong, and then giving you a big bear hug to let you know there's great hope for the future and tremendous opportunity for those who care to care."

Memorial donations may be made to the C.A.R.E. Foundation, which benefits the public school system in Cloverdale. Please reference Peter Glen and send check to: P.O. Box 781, Cloverdale, CA 95425.

Pentair Wins Settlement

Pentair Pool Products has announced the settlement of a trademark infringement case involving its Kreepy Krauly Division.

The case arose from a claim by Pentair that Sonfarrell had infringed on its patent for the Kreepy Krauly automatic pool cleaner. Although Pentair's Kreepy Krauly patent has expired, it retains the rights to the specific appearance of the product, which it claimed Sonfarrell copied in that company's Zoltan automatic pool cleaner.

According to the terms of the agreement, Sonfarrell "shall cease and desist from selling, distributing, manufacturing, or offering for sale" the Zoltan Pool Cleaner, "including any existing inventory which may be in Sonfarrel's possession."

The case is similar to one that is still pending, in which Pentair and Kreepy Krauly have alleged that another cleaner - Phoenix-based Sunline International USA's Eliminator unit, manufactured in the Republic of South Africa - is also identical to the Kreepy Krauly cleaner.

"We are prepared to continue to aggressively go after all knock-off cleaners in violation of trade dress in the U.S. and anywhere else in the world where they have strong consumer protection laws," said Larry Vorbrich, vice president of Kreepy Krauly.

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