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You might not guess it from his boyish look, but Rich Martin wields a considerable amount of power. As business unit manager for the NSF International for the Recreational Water Industry, Martin ultimately decides which products are approved for use on commercial aquatics facilities.

In fact, atleast 28 states require NSF’s Standard 50 certification on one more product types. These include pool or spa components, such as filters, pumps, chemicals, ultraviolet disinfection, skimmers, automatic controllers, and water-quality test devices. If the product requirements don’t fall under Standard 50, they may fall under other NSF standards for items such as PVC fittings and pipes. The organization tests for quality control, use of authorized parts and materials, and accurate labeling and product literature.

Martin is the liaison among all the different players — manufacturers, NSF colleagues and industry experts among them — during product evaluations. NSF’s certification ensures the product was validated and installed properly. But 36-year-old Martin would like to see the industry become preventive, rather than reactive.

“Sometimes it takes bad things to happen before people look at a situation and look at the cause and effect,” he says. The 12-year veteran of NSF says this attitude can be reached through constant dialogue. “We’re a middle person to help sponsor or facilitate those communications [between manufacturers and buyers],” he says. “We want to ensure the standard has some rigorous requirements.”

After so many years in the business, Martin knows the formulas and trade secrets of different companies, but keeps them quiet. This knowledge allows him and his group to work with the regulatory community, distributors and buyers on a smarter level.

“We want to facilitate communication — designs, codes, and changes, to help everyone get a better knowledge and comfort,” he says. “I feel a responsibility to make sure we’re being interactive and hopefully providing an opportunity for others to comment and say why it’s important.”