In The News: August 2009

Hot Tub Industry Growth Initiative Put On Hold

The Hot Tub Council of the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) has voted to put its Hot Tub Industry Growth Initiative (HTIGI) on hold until the economy improves and widespread industry support exists to restart the effort.

On June 5, 2009, the Hot Tub Council held a Webinar to introduce a marketing plan for HTIGI that concentrated on short-term education and consumer-lead generation for hot tub retailers. Although the short-term approach seemed to stray from the Council's broader mission of reaching consumers that are not currently considering hot tubs, the plan reflected a "walk before you run approach." With many manufacturers and suppliers currently struggling in the economic downturn, the Council realized that the millions of dollars required for a traditional national consumer awareness campaign could not be raised.

"We had hoped to generate several hundred thousand dollars for Phase I of the campaign," says Hot Tub Council Chair Steve Gorlin, "and use success stories from those activities to fuel broader efforts."

APSP BOD member, Chris Robinson adds, "I have found that even some of our more dedicated supporters throughout the two-year process of developing HTIGI feel that they cannot support this effort right now. Some are simply unable to contribute financially at this time, some feel that what is planned is "too little, too late," and still others feel that we have crossed the line with our short term plans into what should be manufacturer territory - retailer education and support."

The Council is confident that when the economy improves and consumers' interest in luxury goods returns, industry players will again consider what they can do to collectively reach those consumers who would like a hot tub, but haven't yet put it at the top of their shopping list. "Until then," says APSP President and CEO Bill Weber, "there is much work for the Council and the Association to do on behalf of the hot tub industry, such as creating a new energy efficiency standard, developing a reliable and broad-based industry statistics program, promoting safety, advancing professionalism and reaching the consumer through public relations efforts and the association's Web site at www.apsp.org."

Specific questions about the HTIGI can be directed to Lauren Stack, APSP Director of Public Affairs and Industry Promotion ([email protected]).

IHTA Accredited

The International Hot Tub Association has been accepted into the American National Standards Institute. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used by the standards body in connection with the development of American National Standards meet the Institute's requirements for openness, balance, consensus and due process and that the IHTA will write and revise standards for the portable hot tub industry.

The IHTA's board of directors has established a portable hot tub engineering committee, which will assist the organization in defining sound technical areas that are in need of standardization. With new established standards, the IHTA can use the domestic standards as a model for future international standards.

"It's our intent to educate as many government officials as possible regarding the differences between the portable hot tub industry and the swimming pool industry," says Mitch Brooks, executive director for IHTA. "There is no doubt in my mind that the IHTA is becoming the primary voice of the portable hot tub industry."

Sunbelt Spas Acquires Manufacturing Equipment

Sunbelt Spas, Houston, has acquired the manufacturing equipment from the Living Water/Tatum Manufacturing facility in Tampa, Fla. The acquisition includes the complete assembly line and machinery previously used by Tatum.

Sunbelt will launch a new state-of-the-art product facility in 2010, using the equipment acquired in the purchase. Sunbelt says the new equipment will allow the company to add to its varied dealer offerings by having a separate production line for swim spas.

"The equipment bought in this purchase will allow Sunbelt Spas to evolve to the next level in our industry," says Bob Markiton, owner.

"Sunbelt Spas' new factory is under construction now at the location of our warehouse that was affected by the fire of January 23. This acquisition will allow Sunbelt to bring in some updated equipment and make changes to our production process to continue our manufacturing on the foundation that was so integral to us in our first years of production."

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