To say that Bruce Dunn is busy these days would be putting it mildly. His term as the new president of the Board of Directors for the National Swimming Pool Foundation comes at a time when two groups have merged with NSPF: Genesis, the education and design organization for the residential pool/spa sector, and most recently the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.
And that’s in addition to Dunn’s a full-time job as co-owner of Mission Pools, an award-winning pool builder in Escondido, Calif.
Even as it proceeds with the mergers, NSPF continues to stay focused on its goal of 1 million more swimmers in the United States. To that end, the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based organization facilitates the Step Into Swim program. It also will fund others geared toward getting people into the water, having so far put $100,000 into entities such as New York State Parks & Rec, Red Cross and Swim to Win; sponsored USA Swimming programs; and donated to Angels of America’s Fallen, an organization to assist children of deceased veterans.
“Our biggest goal is to keep pools safer, open and attracting more people,” Dunn said. “It’s absolutely imperative for us to ensure that there’s the next generation of swimmers.”
As involved as Dunn is in the aquatic world now, it was a long, winding — and interesting — road getting here.
His father was an Air Force pilot, so Dunn and his two brothers grew up on Air Force bases from California to Texas, Ohio, Japan — and back to California when Dunn was in the 7th grade. Originally, he wanted to go into aeronautical engineering and become a pilot. He applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy, but a motorcycle wreck dashed those hopes. (Later, he was able take private pilot lessons.) Dunn obtained a B.S. in math at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and did graduate work at Harvard, which he completed in 1992.
An early business success with hydroponic greenhouses led Dunn to strike a deal with three other growers to form their own brand: Big Shot Tomatoes. Eventually Dunn held 5 acres of hydroponic greenhouses, the largest such enterprise in the state.
Business was humming along … and Dunn wanted a new challenge. On the advice of his partner, he went to Escondido and ended up at Mission Pools. The company was at a crossroads, and the owners hired Dunn to perform a business survey: Should they sell, keep or close the business? Dunn himself supplied the answer when he and brother Jeffery purchased Mission Pools.
Over the years, the brothers’ firm has constructed more than 12,000 residential and commercial pools, and spas and waterfeatures. Bruce Dunn calls construction a creative enterprise, but also one that can be very difficult. “It’s a relatively low net margin business,” he said. “You’re either very small and self-contained, or very large and able to carry the appropriate support to do the building, design, etc. We do our own work — steel, tile, etc. You hope you have enough people to do what needs to be done. That’s not for everybody.”
He and brother Jeffery devote six days a week to their business, but they do have other interests, such as completely restored vintage Corvettes, and a place on the Colorado River that they enjoy with their families.
“Fortunately, I have a wife who’s totally tolerant of my work efforts,” Dunn said.o٤�V