Three associations have joined together to strengthen lobbying efforts for the Texas pool and spa industry.

The Aquatic Professionals Education Council (APEC), the legislative advocacy group for the state’s industry, now is called the Texas Pool & Spa Coalition (TPSC). APEC also has partnered with the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the Independent Pool and Spa Service Association of Texas for representation and resources.

In practical terms, the new partnership means that APSP will provide key administrative services for the TPSC, so the group’s lobbyists and volunteers can focus on identifying legislative and regulatory issues in the state and advocating on the industry’s behalf. Before, everything relied on volunteers, officials said, which made it difficult to keep on top of tasks such as recruiting new members, sending out renewal notices, markekting and member communication and website maintenance. “Being a volunteer board, it’s very difficult to operate and get everything done while still running our own businesses, so our communications and administrative have been some of our weaknesses,” said William Ainsworth, president of APEC and owner of Arlington, Texas-based Professional Pool Services of Texas. “[APSP’s] staffing and infrastructure is a key component of the help that we see is going to take ... the Texas Pool & Spa Coalition to the next level.”

APEC had been struggling to collect dues, for instance, which began to affect its ability to perform the lobbying for which it was founded in 2005. According to one member, several of the state’s larger builders had to pool funding together, each contributing approximately $10,000 to keep the organization afloat.

With the new partnership, APSP and IPSSA are guaranteed a certain number of spots on the TPSC’s five-to-13-member board of directors, said APSP President/CEO Lawrence Caniglia. Manufacturers, distributors, builders and service professionals also will have a set number of representatives on the board.

The TPSC will retain long-time lobbyists Jake Posey and Steve Koebele.

Currently, the organization will advocate the adoption of APSP’s International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) throughout the state, so pool firms only have to adhere to one consistent code. Additionally, the group will continue to police the rights of professionals who have earned their Texas Residential Appliance Installers Licenses. Other industries have questioned these rights as they sought to secure certain work for themselves. Ainsworth said the group has successfully protected the industry because of the work and reputation it has earned in its 14 years.

“We’ve established ... that we are the pool industry organization of record to come to before bills get filed,” he said.