No doubt, the biggest story this year is the intended merger between the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the National Swimming Pool Foundation. This feat will involve hundreds of logistical exercises, including the task of melding a 501(c)(6) organization, which is qualified to take on members and perform government advocacy (APSP), with a 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on research and education.

“There are legal pieces, there are structural pieces, and financial pieces,” said APSP Board Chairman Richard Garbee.

The organizations have embarked on the first major step —hiring a third-party firm, called a change agent, to guide the groups in the process. By Aug. 1, a company is expected to be officially chosen following recommendations by a selection committee, headed by NSPF Board President Scott Hunsaker and APSP Board Chairman-Elect Jack Manilla.

The merger is expected to take more than a year. “Before we just run off fat, dumb and happy, [we need to] step back, deep breath, get some professional guidance and assistance,” said NSPF Board Chairman Bruce Dunn. “We’ve had target dates, and the folks have met every single solitary target date. I’m very impressed with the quality and dedication that has come from [all involved].”