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By Dan Schechner - Pool & Spa News

Four new faces — representing more than a century’s worth of industry experience — have joined the board of the International Hot Tub Association.

The group’s board of directors was expanded to 11 with the addition of Bob Lauter, CEO, Master Spas; Bill Drury, co-president, Custom Molded Products; Beth Hamil, vice president of corporate compliance, DEL Ozone; and Larry Savage, principal, Lawrence R. Savage Associates.

Established in November 2008, IHTA was created in response to new and proposed government regulations directly impacting the hot tub industry. Today, the organization counts nearly 30 member companies, including representatives from Watkins Manufacturing, Sunstar, Pleatco and Spa Manufacturers Inc.

Hamil, who’s been with DEL Ozone since 1985, is a published author, speaker and expert on ozone technology. She is consulted regularly by numerous industry groups and government agencies, and is considered an authority on various ozone applications, from food preparation to commercial pool and spa systems.

“It’s time the spa industry got together as a group to determine appropriate rules and regulations,” said Hamil, whose firm is based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “It’s going to be important to isolate [hot tubs] because we don’t want to be noncompliant, nor do we want to be locked into rules for swimming pools that may not apply.”

Lauter’s experience in the hot tub business dates back 30 years, and he’s been at the helm of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Master Spas since 1996. Through IHTA, Lauter looks forward to addressing issues such as safety and energy-efficiency head on.

“As an industry, it seems like we were always behind the curve,” he said. “We’re never doing things pre-emptively — it’s usually in response to something. So this is going to help us on the regulatory side. … We needed some protection there.”

Savage launched his international rep firm a dozen years ago, but his experience in the spa industry dates back to 1985, when he ran a pair of Hayward subsidiaries — Ampro and Diaclear. After leaving to work as an independent rep for a few years, Savage became vice president of sales, marketing and distribution at Leisure Bay Industries. About four years later, he founded Lawrence R. Savage Associates in Apopka, Fla.

Drury co-founded Custom Molded Products in Tyrone, Ga., outside Atlanta, in 1993. He is now co-president of the company, which manufactures molded plastic components for the pool, spa and bath industries.

Rounding out the group’s directors are Board Vice President Mike Dunn of Watkins Manufacturing; Treasurer Cindi Magray of Spa Manufacturers, Executive Director Mitch Brooks of the National Plasterers Council, and members Steve Hammock of Watkins, Sue Sousa of Sunstar and Howard Smith of Pleatco.

In related news, IHTA became an official member of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals in April following approval by its board of directors. IHTA now can help craft the energy-efficiency standard (APSP-14) for portable electric spas and hot tubs that is currently being developed.

“Our goal is protecting the industry,” said Andy Tournas, founder and president of IHTA, and president of ThermoSpas in Wallingford, Conn. “And the best way for us to do that is to get involved in the decision-making process on standards. Being a bystander just isn’t the way to travel for us.”

The IHTA also hopes to help boost APSP’s lobbying efforts by closely monitoring pending legislation or code proposals, and assisting in drafting rapid responses and counter-proposals when necessary.

Representing IHTA on APSP’s Standards Writing Committee is John Peterson, project engineer at ThermoSpas.