Preview of 2010 Orlando Pool and Spa Show

Sun Illustration 0210Later this month, dozens of exhibitors and thousands of attendees will again descend on Orlando for the popular trade show that bears the host city's name. As usual, visitors will be lured by the area's warm weather and theme parks, by the prospect of face-to-face meetings with manufacturers and reps, and by the show's improving and ever-expanding seminar schedule, an area of emphasis this year.

"Our staff here is very active in communicating with our members and the board members," says Wendy Parker, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association, which hosts the show. "And of course everybody now is focusing on renovations, upgrades, energy efficiency. We've heard from a lot of people that renovations are all they can do right now, so we added some classes to address that need."

Among the courses aimed at helping attendees compete in the renovation/remodel market are the aptly named "How to do Major Pool Renovations" and "Changing Pool Dimensions and Modifications," which can be taken back to back on Saturday, Feb. 20, the last day of the show.

Another area that's shown strength despite the industry's general weakness, according to Parker, is solar, a category show organizers flirted with a year ago but are putting a major effort into this year.

"Last year we partnered with the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association, but we did it sort of late in the game," she explains. "They promoted our show to their members, they got in at our member rate, things of that nature.

"We did it again this year, but also worked closely with them to develop continuing education courses that are specific to solar energy - not just solar pool heating but throughout the house. So we've got six or eight new classes that are focused on that - making sure you've got the right license to do solar work in Florida, understanding how the systems work in a home, those sorts of things. We're really excited about the tie-in to what we're doing.

"Of course there are niche markets with people focused on building certain types of pools, or just doing certain kinds of remodels, or just doing service," Parker says. "That worked for several years, but people aren't able to do that anymore. It's good to get them the education they need to expand their skills and their abilities, thereby improving their businesses and, hopefully, the industry as a whole."

These and the other business and technical courses at the show are described in detail on the show's Web site, There you'll also find information about registration, reduced room rates and links to discounts on shopping, dining and popular area attractions.

The show takes place Friday, Feb. 19 and Saturday, Feb. 20 in West Hall E of the Orange County Convention Center, with builder, service and solar courses beginning Wednesday and running until the end of the show.

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