Pool and spa continuing education helps beat the competition

Kirstin PiresWhether you pack a Kung Fu Panda lunchbox and set out for first grade or you pack an Igloo Playmate cooler and head off to the job site, September prompts thoughts of going back to school.

Each year it seems like there are more education and training opportunities offered for and by the industry than there were the previous year. I'm happy to note that this year is no exception. With the wealth of conferences and seminars scheduled for regional, local or national audiences and the advent of distance learning and Web casts, there is no reason for industry members to skip the annual training tune-up. In fact, with business lukewarm and costs as high as they are these days, it's even more important to set yourself apart by taking the classes or attending the seminars that can help you be more competitive.

In planning for this season's travel to meetings and trade shows, I had the opportunity to take a good look at the training scheduled for 2008-2009 and following is just a sampling of what you can learn.

The International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo (Nov. 18-20, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas) is the granddaddy of the show season with education and certification programs from Genesis 3 Design Group and the APSP and seminars given by industry peers. This year there will be 80 or more classes to choose from.

NESPA's Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show, Jan. 26-29, generally considered a "regional," is almost as big as the Vegas show. In Atlantic City, choose from about 75 technical and business seminars. NESPA also offers year-round training through its Professional Training Institute and certifications including APSP Tech I and Tech II, Certified APSP Certified Building Professional and NSPF Certified Pool & Spa Operator.

The National Plasterers Council celebrates it 20th anniversary Feb. 10-13 with its annual conference in Reno, Nev. Updates on the latest science from the Cal Poly National Pool Industry Research Center are always a highlight and an expanding seminar offering features topics from technical (pozzolans, anyone?) to the daily work of running a business.

Texas does everything big, so I'm told, and this year there are two shows in the Lone Star State. The APSP Region III Southwest Pool/Spa Show, Feb. 27-28 will be in Galveston while the Texas Pool & Spa Show returns to Ft. Worth. The latter boasts Genesis 3 courses this season.

If you have a scientific bent, be sure to travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the NSPF World Aquatic Health Conference, Oct. 15-17. And if your leanings are more organic, the American Society of Landscape Architects meets in Philadelphia Oct. 3-7 for a conference and expo with an eco emphasis: "Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities."

As always, I hope to see you along the way; be sure to let me know what you're learning this season.

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