Our Industry’s Advance is in Our Hands

I own a chemistry book that was published in 1849 written by Sulliman. The book is in English – which is rare – since most chemistry and science books of that day were written in German. Most science was happening in Germany. The first Nobel Prize winners in the early 1900’s were from Germany. Imagine that a chemistry book from 1849. This was before many men and women were considered human, before the civil war, about the time when the telegraph and Morse code were discovered, medicine resembled barbarism, and thirty years before the light bulb was discovered.Sulliman’s described how to make “chlorinating lime.” Yes, this was an early form of calcium hypochlorite. He even taught that the chlorinated lime “is effective at disinfecting" and "its strength is increased with the addition of weak acid.” Of course, we all know that adding acid to chlorinating lime shifts down the pH increasing the hypochlorous acid content and improves disinfection.Isn’t it kind of amazing that almost 160 years later, the one of the staples of the recreational water chemical industry is a similar composition? This realization is both extraordinarily amazing and kind of pathetic.How come society has come so far that about 68 million Americans voted for a U.S. Presidential candidate of mixed race and over 58 million voted for a woman vice presidential candidate? How is it we have come from a telegraph to an iPhone, from blood letting to micro-surgery, from a lantern to satellite digital TV. Hold it!! I think, “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” is still airing. Maybe we haven’t come so far after all. . . I digress.Though our field has advanced, we have a long way to go. Our key to prosperity and relevance – like that in electronics, communication, medicine and other fields – falls on the lap of science. Many of the advances in our field have come from other scientific disciplines and research investments made there. For example, electronic controller technology, chemical testing, wireless control, even raw materials used in many ancillary products.John F. Kennedy once said, “Ours is not to fix the blame for the past, but to fix the course for the future.” Thus, let’s not linger on the past. Knowing our field’s advance – like other fields depends on science. How does our path forward look?Five years ago, the first scientific conference was held in our field – The World Aquatic Health Conference. In the spirit of scientific advancement, the seminars from the WAHC are available on the web so you can minimize our carbon footprint and still view the newest findings. There is no other conference in our field that post seminars on the web. The WAHC has for three years.Two years ago the International Journal of Aquatic Research & Education (IJARE), a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal launched. The journal is available in print and electronic form. A couple online articles even contain video. This is pretty cutting edge in the “journal business.” Over the last five years, NSPF has committed to over $ 3.5 million dollars in research on prevention and health benefit topics. This sounds like a lot of money. It is in fact over 30% of the total revenue NSPF earned over those years. In reality, contrasted against the size of our industry, this is a pittance. Yet, it is a step in the right direction.The question for pool geniuses is this. Have you attended one, read one abstract, viewed one seminar, read one published article, or donated one dollar to fund future research? This is a rhetorical question? Here’s another one. If 99% of members on this site or “professionals in our industry” answered this question the same way you did, how confident are you that our future will bring prosperity? Stated another way, will we look more like a telegraph, light bulb, a barber’s saw, and chlorinating lime or more like Intel, Macintosh, GE, and Merck. Or, will we make science and advancement part of our daily lives. It is in our hands.
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  • Thanks for the comments back Wes. The trail forward is paved with an open mind. I look forward to learning what you have learned from customers about new benefit statements (without throwing away some of "dad's" either. We had researchers at the World Aquatic Health Conference sharing results that the relaxation factor (parasympatheic response) is also important for long-term health.
  • Absolutely fascinating. To think time in a pool actually changed this woman's life. What a wonderful thought.
    Most of my years in "the industry" (as Tom so aptly put it) have been spent getting the customer to see how wonderful it'd be to have a pool in the backyard to come home and relax beside. I was a competitive swimmer for 16 years and most of the time enjoyed the workouts, yet I sold a pool as a relaxation station. I have really missed this boat. The health benefits of owning a pool far outweigh other benefits. I guess this goes back to the "Dad did it..." mentality. It is time for me to step up the learning curve. There must be a better way, better chemistry, better designs.
    I must climb out of this box I have been in and begin thinking. Thank you Laurie for sharing this story. Truly inspirational.
  • I enjoyed reading this page and I am looking forward to learning more.
    In my 18 years in the buisness i have read alot of articles on our profession and there is alot more educating to be done.
    Including myself!
    keep up the great articles
  • Great insight Tom, I know that Endless Pools has a relationship with the MS society, but there are so many opportunities to reach out these groups, and not just MS! As we hear of new stories, I'll continue to share them with the PGN, through your blog.
  • This is a fantastic story and experience. I am amazed at how little people in our industry know about how their products impact people's health. In a way it is not surprising since people in business are very busy with their business and all the ancillary things businesses need beyond providing value to their customers. I can't blame others because I was the same way for the nine years I was in "the industry." Yet, now with the Foundation, I have been exposed to greater depth. It is gratifying to see that the mega-trends (aging population, major government and medical campaigns to get people active) of the world are in the pool and spa industry's favor. Yet, most of us still are focused on a feature and advantage world and place very little focus on the benefit of our products to the final consumer.

    Thanks for sharing this story, Laurie. Who knows, one day maybe a pool builder will be exhibiting or promoting their product at a local MS event or meeting.
  • Terrific messages, Tom. I was just reading my emails early this morning and received one from a dear friend of mine, Barbara Goldstein. You may recall her story -she has MS and wrote her story for Watershapes. In fact -it's posted on the NSPF site for people who want to read about how getting in the water basically saved her life -

    But meanwhile, she reminds me that she started a "Swim Club" thread on the MS chat site to encourage others to get in the water. Here's the latest post - if this doesn't inspire all of us to think about how important our products and services are, I don't know what would! In fact, I'd love to send this to CPSC and Congressional leaders so they can see how critical it is to keep our 300,000 public pools OPEN! Laurie

    Read here to get inspired!

    i heard about swim club out in cyber space, lol and i thought, this is
    the place for me.....

    I was unable to walk without an aide for the most part when i first
    entered the water back in February. My first day i walked three laps
    around a current pool, it took me nearly one hour and i slept for 12
    hours afterwards.

    Now 10 months later i run three miles 3-4 times a week in the same
    pool. It took me months to work up to this obviously, but it has saved
    my life, being in that pool. In the beginning i would go 5 days a
    week, but now that i am so much better i find myself going
    less...which is not good, i know

    I'm thrilled to find a group of people who have had as much success as
    i have with water helping them. I am amazed at what i have
    accomplished because of finding this pool. I now walk with no aides of
    any kind and my pain is mostly under control and the best part was i
    lost around 45 pounds, all the weight i had gained from all the roid
    treatments.....its been nothing but good.

    I work out in a system called a turtle pool.........6 joined pools all
    different temps so i never get too hot or cold.........its fabulous
  • I was in Europe about eight years ago and remember a French farmer on the news complaining about the new "free market" trade policies were going to force him out of business. His family had farmed there field for five generations and now his "business" going to fail. It seemed like a very sad story at first. Then the farmer pointed out that his farm was 3 acres. That's right.. 3 acres. How many farms in today's world can survive based on practices used 100 years ago. This gentleman could not see that his position was not economically viable. He was just too close. His position was based on what his former generation taught him. Great comments Ray.

    We need to learn from the past. But as the world changes, if we continue to repeat what worked in the past, it will be a painful lesson when that formula does not work today. Science is plowing a new future, whether we like it or not. I think we all rather prosper as a result and not get plowed under.
  • Great Blog Tom! Fellow PGN Adviser, Dan Johnson, always likes to tell the story that we are an "accidental industry." Certainly neither you, nor I, could have EVER imagined we would one day work in the pool industry when we were limping through theoretical organic chemistry class in graduate school! Yet, it is amazing just how much great information there is to learn about pools, pool construction, and pool maintenance. I think we need to explore what has happened scientifically in both the aquaria and irrigation industries for even more insight.

    I hope every member of the Pool Genius Network, and all Pool Associations, will begin to embrace that we must move beyond "daddy did-it" engineering and begin to explore and learn the "why we do it" behind our "how do we do it." Not everyone has to become a scientist, but we must all embrace rational technical underpinnings in our codes, standards, and building practice. Let's leave the urban myths to those that have too many email addresses and way too much time on their hands.

    NIce work!
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