Interim PHTA CEO Lawrence Caniglia
Interim PHTA CEO Lawrence Caniglia

In summer of 2017 Lawrence Caniglia had this notion that he’d go into semi-retirement.

After 14 years with one of the largest regional associations in the pool/spa industry, he planned to start a new consulting business with an association management colleague. He made the big announcement and planned for the tough good-byes from a group that had grown very fond of him.

Caniglia, right, and a member of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association setting up at The Pool & Spa Show.
NESPA Caniglia, right, and a member of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association setting up at The Pool & Spa Show.

But at the end of year, he was recruited to head the industry’s biggest national organization — the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals — serving as its president/CEO.

The consulting gig would have to wait.

But he didn’t want to wait too long, so he figured he’d stay for about a year, help the organization through some transitions, then move on.

But once again, duty calls. In January, when APSP and the National Swimming Pool Foundation solidified plans to merge into one association, they tapped Caniglia to oversee the transition, working with NSPF board member Jim Mock to figure out details such as what to do with the two headquarters, and how to integrate programs and staff.

“We recognize this is no small task we have set for ourselves,” Caniglia says. “I think my job with Jim is to look at what we have, the APSP and NSPF sides, and say, ‘What recommendations are we going to make to streamline everything and make sure that we’re no longer working at cross purposes?’”

For those who know Caniglia, it’s hard to think of a person more suited to the task.

Educated and trained as an attorney, Caniglia passed the N.J. bar and practiced civil ligation for more than 20 years. After deciding on a career change, he chose association management, and took his first post with an Italian-American organization.

In 2004, he came on board as executive director of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association, which required a wide combination of skills — the ability to motivate and manage a boisterous band of volunteers, learn about their needs, work with legislators and local government officials, help craft language for state bills and local codes and oversee a staff that handles a trade show and develops a full-blown, year-round educational program.

He served a passionate group whose tempers could flare — and did so by exhibiting his own calm. And as a trained attorney, he brought a natural strategic-mindedness to the industry.

Many in the industry believe these traits will serve well during this transition. And Caniglia believes the end product will be worth it: “You take these two very good, very strong organizations and put them together, and all the things we were trying to do individually will be so much stronger.”