GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Blackford Capital portfolio company Aqua Leisure, a company that designs, distributes and develops products for swimming and recreational water activities, announced today that Peter Delahunt has been appointed chief financial officer, effective immediately. Delahunt brings strong financial, strategic, and operational capabilities to Aqua Leisure, and over 20 years of executive experience at companies with both private equity and publicly traded ownership structures.
Delahunt, 58, will report to CEO Steve Berenson and will work with the management team as well as a board of directors that has been expanded by Blackford Capital to help steer Aqua Leisure through a strategic growth plan.
“Peter stood out to the Aqua Leisure team as a highly talented and experienced consumer-products executive with considerable private equity knowledge,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital and Chairman of the Aqua Leisure board. “He is the perfect person to guide the team as we enter the next chapter of our ownership, developing the infrastructure to position the business for the future.”
Throughout his career, Delahunt has demonstrated an ability to execute both corporate restructurings and rapid expansion strategies. At KT Tape, the largest manufacturer of kinesiology tape, he quadrupled revenue and improved profit margins as he oversaw a transition from a founder-led, cash-rich company into company with far better financial and operational controls. Delahunt also has experience improving financial performance at retail brands including Chicos, J. Jill and Talbots, Inc.
Aqua Leisure, has been in the business of developing, designing, and distributing consumer products that make swimming, diving, and playing in water fun for over 50 years. The company’s products include aqua lounges, Dolfino and Aqua Swim & Dive swim gear, and aquatic games. Blackford Capital acquired Aqua Leisure in January 2021 with the goal of diversifying its customer base, expanding its product portfolio and elevating its brand awareness.
“There were a number of factors that brought me to Aqua Leisure, but more than anything else, I wanted a new adventure, a new challenge,” Delahunt said. “Throughout my career, I have had the good fortune of being a part of a number of dynamic teams that achieved some truly great things. But if we come even remotely close to the long-term, strategic goals that we have identified for Aqua Leisure, I am confident that this could be the greatest personal and team achievement of my career.”
About Aqua Leisure
Avon, Mass.-based Aqua Leisure was founded in 1970 and is one of the largest designers and distributors of high quality, performance-based aquatic products, and pool accessories under a variety of brand names and proprietary designs, including swim goggles, “Learn to Swim” products and pool floats. For more information, visit https://www.aqualeisure.com/.
About Blackford Capital
Founded in 2010, Blackford Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Blackford Capital makes majority control investments in founder and family-owned, lower middle-market manufacturing, industrial and distribution companies. Currently, Blackford Capital has eleven portfolio companies. Blackford and their team members have received a number of recognitions over the past several years, including M&A Adviser Private Equity Firm of the year, Corp. Magazine Small Company of the Year (Michigan), GR Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year (West Michigan), numerous recognitions on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing private companies list and M&A Adviser Private Equity Professional of the Year (Martin Stein). For more information, visit www.blackfordcapital.com.
Lambert & Co.
CHARLIE CLAFFEY APPOINTED AS PHTA 2023 CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
PHTA also announces board members for 2023
(Alexandria, Va.) – The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) is pleased to announce that Charlie Claffey has been appointed to Chairman of the Board for 2023. Claffey is President of Claffey Pools in Southlake, Texas, which has been in business for over 35 years.
Claffey has taken an active leadership role in the pool, spa, and hot tub industry for many years. Within 10 years of taking over Claffey Pools, he was able to quadruple the number of pools the company built in a year, and has led Claffey Pools to consistently be named one of the top builders in the country. PHTA feels privileged to have a passionate leader with a strong vision take the helm.
PHTA is also pleased to announce its board members for 2023:
- Chair Elect: Joe Laurino, Ph.D., Periodic Products, Inc.
- Secretary: Keith Harbeck, Premier Pools and Spas, Inc.
- Treasurer: Scott Frost, Fluidra
- Immediate Past Chairman: Andy Levinson, PoolCorp
PHTA’s Board Members at Large include:
- Bob Blanda, Mill Bergen Pools
- Caley Gibbs, Gib-San Pool & Landscape Creations
- Tracine Marroquin, Jacuzzi Group
- Matt McDermott, Heritage Pool Supply Group
- Albert Miller, Hayward
- Kevin Post, Counsilman-Hunsaker
“The 2023 PHTA Board of Directors is comprised of amazing individuals who care deeply about the pool, spa, and hot tub industry,” says Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President and CEO of PHTA. “I know they will steer our association—and our industry—in the right direction this coming year, and help us develop even more valuable resources for our members. Congratulations to all of our new board members!”
For more information, please contact Amy Willer, PHTA’s Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, at [email protected] or 703-838-0083, ext. 121.
About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with over 3,600 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub, and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge, and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety, and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer, and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.
Sneak Peek of Educational Opportunities Released for Coverings 2023
Dec. 1, 2022 – ARLINGTON, Va. – Coverings (coverings.com), the preeminent event for North America’s ceramic tile and natural stone industry, released today a sneak peek of featured education for Coverings 2023. A robust lineup of complimentary learning opportunities, including live demonstrations, curated show floor tours, interactive sessions, and partner education, will span all tile and stone industry segments.
Showgoers of Coverings 2023, taking place April 18-21, 2023, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, can benefit from dozens of educational opportunities focusing on numerous trends and relevant topics. All learning opportunities will focus on Coverings’ core tenets, which include “Sustainability,” “Health & Wellness,” “Outdoor Spaces,” and “Timeless Luxury.”
Coverings 2023 education is being designed to provide attendees with the critical resources and know-how they need to keep current in today’s highly competitive tile and stone marketplace.
Three on-floor education stages for participants to experience the latest innovations in the tile and stone industry will be key features of Coverings 2023. These include the return of the Installation Innovation Stage and Trends & Solutions Stage, and a new 2023 addition of the Fabricator Stage.
Educational sessions will focus on the show’s three strategic learning tracks: “Installation & Fabrication,” “Materials & Trends” and “Workforce & Profits.”
The “Installation & Fabrication” track will help attendees brush up on industry best practices and cutting-edge techniques in the installation and fabrication of tile and stone. Those who attend the “Workforce & Profits” sessions will discover new and successful business practices and tactics to better grow and manage their workforces with practical labor solutions and takeaways for maximizing bottom-line profits. Attendees of the “Materials & Trends” sessions will be provided updates on the latest trends, design inspirations and techniques within the world of tile and stone.
A particularly invaluable session during Coverings 2023, which will be part of the “Sustainability” tenet, is “Today’s Leading Sustainability Drivers and Their Impact on the Tile Industry.” Attendees will gain insight into today’s sustainability market and the current conversation around carbon emissions, detailing the need for furthering the demands of environmental transparency, standardized environmental performance and human health optimization pertinent to product ingredients. The session will address how green building products and projects are increasingly scrutinized for embodied carbon, and how companies are further striving toward “carbon neutral” and “net-zero” practices.
Teresa McGrath, chief research officer at Healthy Building Network, will lead “Luxury Vinyl Tile’s Carbon and Toxic Impacts,” one of the featured sessions within the Coverings 2023 “Health & Wellness” theme. McGrath will present the underreported environmental and human health impacts associated with Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). The session will include a review of LVT as a subject of concern among health experts and builders, in that, vinyl material introduces harmful toxins – such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – into living spaces and the earth over time.
A must-see Coverings 2023 “Outdoor Spaces” tenet session will include “Tile Installation Solutions and Systems for Exterior Projects.” Session attendees will join National Tile Contractor Association (NTCA) trainers and contractor members as they feature case studies on successful installations of porcelain and glass tile as well as natural stone in both outdoor residential and commercial projects. Product trends in varying formats, sizes and thicknesses will be discussed, and new technology and installation systems will be introduced at this informational learning opportunity.
The “Timeless Luxury” insights during Coverings 2023 will include numerous engaging sessions, including “Understanding How to Market and Sell to Your Wealthiest Prospects.” This educational must-see will provide attendees with the keys to selling to the affluent and analyze the proven methodology of understanding their level of wealth. Showgoers will review the five levels of wealth and examine the behaviors, needs, wants, desires, and fears of each demographic.
The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone, a Coverings 2023 educational partner, will present “How to be a Professional Architectural Sales Rep to Develop ‘Bullet Proof’ Specifications and Get the Order,” as a co-located learning opportunity, Monday, April 17, which is the day before the Coverings 2023 show floor opens. Thefocus of this four-hour live classroom training is to teach the fundamentals of being a professional and successful architectural sales representative. This course will explain and dissect the ingredients to developing a “Bulletproof Specification,” which are specifications resistant to value engineering and substitutes. A separate registration and fee are required for this opportunity through advanced reservations on the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone’s website.
Visit the Coverings website for further insight into the strategic learning tracks, key tenets and educational opportunities for Coverings 2023.
Gather more information and register for Coverings 2023 at no cost by visiting coverings.com.
Coverings’ Social Media:
Twitter: @Coverings, #Coverings2023
Vimeo: Watch Coverings videos
LinkedIn: Coverings LinkedIn showcase page
About Coverings: Coverings is the largest and preeminent ceramic tile and natural stone trade fair and exposition in the United States and North America. It features exhibitors from more than 30 countries and is the stage for introducing some of the most innovative tile and stone products in the world.
The exposition and conference, with more than 30 years of successful history, serve as a valuable and complimentary continuing education resource for all segments of the industry, with dozens of educational opportunities throughout the show. Coverings attracts thousands of distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors, specifiers, architectural and design professionals, builders, real estate developers, as well as journalists, reporters and bloggers who cover the vital tile and stone industry.
Key sponsors of the show are Ceramics of Italy/Confindustria Ceramica, Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association of Spain (ASCER)/Tile of Spain, Tile Council of North America (TCNA), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), and Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA).
The show is managed by Taffy Event Strategies, LLC.
For more information about attending, sponsoring or exhibiting at Coverings 2023, contact Taffy Event Strategies at 571-313-5801 or [email protected].
PHTA Debuts Pool Professionals Pipeline
Group plans to launch a robust jobseeker education program to fill pipeline with new talent.
(Alexandria, VA) – The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) today announced it is jumping into the waters of workforce development with its Pool Professionals Pipeline, a new program designed to help its members find workers, drive awareness amongst today’s jobseekers, and foster long-term career progression in the pool, hot tub, and aquatics industry.
“It’s no secret that many industries and businesses today are struggling to find and retain employees, and this is particularly true in trades such as ours,” says PHTA President and CEO Sabeena Hickman, CAE. “Our members are looking to PHTA to help fill that gap and we’re ready for the challenge. We are incredibly excited to share this new program with our membership and give them the tools they’ll need to compete in today’s labor market while working to attract a skilled, diversified, and thriving workforce.”
Underneath the PHTA’s Pool Professionals Pipeline workforce development umbrella is its external industry awareness campaign and jobseeker website, Work in Aquatics and workinaquatics.com, launching in 2023. Work in Aquatics will seek to advocate for trade professions by highlighting the numerous advantages, training and apprenticeship opportunities, job openings, and potential career progression tracks that are available working in the pool and hot tub industry. From construction labor to lifeguards, sales representatives, entrepreneurs, and even engineers and designers, there are many industry sectors and paths along the way that PHTA wants jobseekers to explore.
“This program is a game-changer for our industry as it works to drive qualified talent to our respective businesses and our industry as a whole,” says PHTA Chairman Charlie Claffey, owner of Claffey Pools. “To be successful, we’re going to need everyone on board as we work to put the industry on the radar of those searching for an alternative path to college; a rewarding career in a healthy lifestyle environment; the ability to work away from a desk; creative freedom through modern design; and lifesaving skills through swim instruction. The possibilities that exist in the aquatics industry are endless and once you begin in this line of work, you’ll never want to walk away. Let’s share that passion with the next generation of workers.”
A steering committee comprised of PHTA members, industry partners, and PHTA staff will serve in an advisory role to help guide programming, funding, and more:
- Charlie Claffey, Claffey Pools
- Joseph Laurino, Ph.D., Periodic Products, Inc.
- Andrew Levinson, PoolCorp
- Elizabeth McMurray, Florida Swimming Pool Association
- Albert Miller, Hayward
- Dominick Mondi, Northeast Spa & Pool Association
- Kevin Post, Counsilman-Hunsaker
- Teri Wiltshire, Master Pools Guild
- Lisa Zarda, CAE, US Swim School Association
Members, partners, and others interested in becoming involved in the PHTA Pool Professionals Pipeline can contact Seth Ewing, PHTA Senior Director of Member Programs & Services, at [email protected]
Associate Director, Marketing and Communications
703-838-0083, ext. 121 | [email protected]
CHARLIE CLAFFEY APPOINTED AS PHTA 2023 CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
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