Every year, five hundred Manufacturers, Vendors, Importers and Entrepreneurs converge at the Atlantic City Convention Center to sell the latest and greatest products, technologies and methods of enjoying and maintaining swimming pools. POOLCENTER.com made the annual trek again this year in style riding in Jon's BMW. About a 4 hour trip from Washington DC for us. We got GPS.
Presented by the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA), The Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show is a four-day conference and exhibit event where the industry conducts business with more than 500 exhibitors from across the US, Canada, Europe and the Far East. In addition to visiting the exhibition area, industry professionals have the opportunity to attend more than 75 educational business and technical seminars.
Arrive just in time to head straight to the Opening Ceremony and Gala. A large ballroom, with tables, food stations, bars and a few thousand of our closest friends. Saw Howard Weiss of Contemporary Watercrafters and had a nice chat. I seem to always run into Drew Steibling from W at the same exact place in the room. Spent some time with Billy of Poolservice company, although Paul Wahler was no where to be found this year. Mitch from G.A.M.E. and I chatted up the new line of small, aboveground filters, called Universa and some of their other new, and always innovative products. Had a couple of drinks and discovered a fondness for the mashed potato bar ~ if you have never had mashed potatoes topped with all the fixins, in a martini glass, then you haven't lived!
A big draw for Service guys and builders are the technical seminars on topics ranging from Pool Chemistry to Electronic Spa Pak troubleshooting. These are held every morning, before the exposition show floor opens. Fortunately for us ~ we apparently think we know everything already, and so we sleep in until mid-morning. After breakfast we get on the purple shuttle and head to the AC Convention Center.
As we enter the show floor, we are aghast at the size! Well, not really, same as last year, but a very large expo - over 500 exhibitors, most with just 1 booth, but some of the larger manufacturers like Hayward and Pentair or the larger vendors like SCP and Bel-Aqua have 4-8 booths, rolled into one larger area. Smartpool has an entire aisle - which is a smart move, because, as their rep Matt mentioned "you don't pay for the aisle"!
First stop is SCP - Afterwards, as usual, I head over early to the Massage Booth, sponsored by Pen Fab - where tired schmoozers can get a free 10 minute massage. Jon gets into a LONG conversation with O3 guys, producers of enzyme technologies.
Baystate had two parties, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. We went both nights of course! Well attended by all sorts of friendly faces, branch managers and the owners of Baystate and APC. Bad news arrived on Wednesday with the news of a shooting at one of the Baystate branches in Boston. The owners all fly out early the next morning to meet with their team at the branch, their lawyers and presumably the media. I can't imagine the agony of this for the employees and management close to the incident.
Digesting the information from the show will take some time, so Jon takes the next day to assemble it all. Lots of new products, new companies and new faces this year. Many of the pool industry segments are hurting from the recent economic conditions ~ but happy to report that our customer base is growing every day. E-commerce seems alive and well.
Here's a video of some of the new products. See you next year Atlantic City!