Back To The Boardwalk

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The Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show will celebrate its silver anniversary this month with more booths, more exhibit space and more door prizes than at any other time in its 25-year history.

"Our first year in Atlantic City we had 17,500 square feet of exhibit space and 125 exhibiting companies," recalls Joel Caesar, the show's director from 1993 to 2004. "Attendance was 4,000, including exhibitors. But it was a solid start."

Since those rather humble beginnings, the show has grown from a regional show to one that attracts attendees and exhibitors from well beyond the area it was initially intended to serve. By 2004, attendance had tripled, the number of exhibitors has almost quadrupled and exhibit space has grown to 126,000 square feet.

That steady growth is due in large part to the companies that have been with the show from the beginning, according to Caesar, who, despite stepping down as the manager two years ago, still sells booth space and assists with setup and operations during the show.

"We are going to salute the 35 companies that have been a participant in some way or another with every show," he says. "We went back through the records to assemble a list. Doing that was sort of like doing a history of the industry and the way things have consolidated. For example, there used to be a company called Huston Supply in New Jersey, and Bicknell, Hughes and E-Z Chlor, and now you've got them all represented in SCP." That history will be commemorated in numerous ways, Caesar says, including a return to the show's original home for a welcome party on Monday, Jan. 23.

For the first 13 years, the show was held in the old convention center, mere steps from the Atlantic Ocean on the city's famed Boardwalk. In 1995, the show was moved from the quaint-but-cramped old hall to its current home in the newer Atlantic City Convention Center.

"Moving was a major challenge after doing 13 shows in the old building," Caesar says. "Of course, moving isn't unusual for a lot of shows but for us it was the only place we'd done it and we had a lot of mixed emotions. There was a lot of affection for the old place. We were apprehensive about moving but were proven wrong. It's great here.

"But we're going back to our roots and having a big welcome celebration in Boardwalk Hall," Caesar adds. "We call it Back To The Boardwalk."

In addition, more and larger door prizes will be given away at the trade show, including iPods, hotel stays, televisions and "all kinds of goodies," according to Caesar.

Of course, the Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show will be about more than parties and prizes. Four days of technical and business seminars will kick off on Monday, Jan. 23, and run through the end of the show. In addition, there will be an all-day CPO certification course offered on Sunday and Monday and three all-day workshops on Monday.

Technical seminars will include new sessions on electronic controls, recent plaster research, deck construction and chlorine generators in addition to popular courses on water chemistry, hydraulics, spa pack repair and more.

Business education will range from customer service and increasing profitability to advertising and computerization. There's even a new course on eBay selling. For a schedule of all seminars, turn to page 80. A floor plan and exhibitor list begin on pages 86-87.

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