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Blackford Capital portfolio company Aqua Leisure Announces Retail and Private Equity Veteran Peter Delahunt as CFO

Delahunt brings extensive experience overseeing rapid growth of prominent, national luxury retail brands to Aqua Leisure



Aqua Leisure

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 ChicosJ. 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.

Peter Delahunt joins Aqua Leisure as new chief financial officer.

“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

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

Brent Snavely
Lambert & Co.
(313) 378-6082

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Marianne Trusty is a Press Correspondent for the pool & spa industry. A published author and social media influencer reaching over 20 million people around the world each day. Contact Marianne about publishing op-editorials, breaking pool news and press releases at

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Press Releases




Southwest Pool and Spa Show - Pool and Hot Tub Alliance

(Alexandria, Va.) – The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) is pleased to announce that its first event of 2022 was a success. PHTA and GENESIS® led educational sessions and hosted a booth at the Southwest Pool & Spa Show in San Antonio, TX, last week.

GENESIS® offered two pre-conference sessions, both of which sold out well before the start date. GENESIS® C201: CONSTRUCTION SCHOOL: Concrete Pools had 69 students, setting a new attendance record for both PHTA and GENESIS® education. In addition, more than 20 students attended D265: Master Designer Methods: Kirk Bianchi Crafting the Outdoor Space as a Living Art Form.

In September 2021, PHTA launched the new Certified Pool Builder & Design Professional Pathway. This merged the existing PHTA Certified Builder Professional (CBP) designation and Society of Watershape Designers (SWD) designations into one unified professional certification pathway for pool builders and designers. Professionals can now follow the pathway from CBP to Advanced, Expert, and Master levels.

C201 is now a required course for CBP, which makes it one of the most in-demand courses GENESIS® offers. At the Southwest Pool & Spa Show, there were students from a dozen states, including Texas, Florida, and New York—three of the largest pool markets.

“Our priority has always been to provide the highest quality education in the industry,” says Jeanne Mendelson, PHTA Vice President of Education & Events. “THE GENESIS® faculty of experts allows us to grow while maintaining best practices for education and certification. Attendees have the opportunity to network with peers and have access to these industry experts throughout the program.”

PHTA also taught the Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO) Certification as a pre-conference session,. CPO Certification is the world’s leading verifiable pool and spa training credential for aquatic facility maintenance personnel, health officials, retailers, and other professionals. PHTA certified more than 30,000 CPOs in 2021 and is aiming to certify even more in 2022.

The Construction School (C201) was taught by Greg Andrews, Terry Brannon, Rocky Wisley, Randy Dukes, and Tom Dankel. D265, which is a required course for Master CBP, was taught by Kirk Bianchi and Kate Wiseman. David Turnage was the CPO instructor.

Visit for more information and to see the upcoming schedule of events.


About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 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

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The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Sets Record Year with More Than $1M in Donations for Step Into Swim



The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Sets Record Year with More Than $1M in Donations for Step Into Swim

Water safety education program funded swim lessons for 6,297 children thanks to donors, partners

Alexandria, VA (January 13, 2022) – Today, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) and its foundation celebrate the donors who made 2021 a record-setting year for Step Into Swim, an initiative committed to safe swim education. The program raised more than $1,000,000 and provided swim lessons to 6,297 children with support from major founding partner Every Child A Swimmer and other industry leaders.

In advancing its Step Into Swim initiative, PHTA continues to collaborate with individuals and donors who have a passion for protecting kids in the water. It is because of these supporters that Step Into Swim had an impactful year. The association proudly recognizes its top 2021 donors, including Bill Kent Family Foundation and Fluidra (Diamond Level); American Pools, AquaCal, Claffey Pools, and Hayward (Platinum Level); and Kiwanis International, Master Pools Guild, and Premier Pools and Spas (Gold Level).

“We are making strides to combat childhood drowning thanks to the generous donors who share in our mission to create more swimmers. Our efforts to expand Step Into Swim would not be possible without their support,” said Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Vice President of Partnerships and Development at PHTA. “The aquatics industry has a unique opportunity to come together in the name of safe swim education. Our partners truly delivered on that in 2021.”

In 2021, Step Into Swim raised over $500,000 dollars from the pool and hot tub industry, which will be matched by the PHTA Board of Directors; provided grants to 22 facilities in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas; funded swim lessons for 6,297 children; and formed a coalition of advocates, inclusive of Every Child A Swimmer, International Swimming Hall of Fame, American Swimming Coaches Association, Florida Swimming Pool Association, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, and the United States Swimming Pool Association. The strategic coalition has generated additional dollars and visibility to further promote swimming education.

“I am in awe of how far Step Into Swim has come thanks to the leadership of Rowdy Gaines and our Champions Board, as well as the support from our members and partners,” said Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President and CEO of PHTA. “Everyone plays a special role in helping us mobilize against an important initiative to provide educational resources and access to free swimming lessons. The future is bright as we continue to build upon this momentum in 2022.” 

Donors can support Step Into Swim through tiered funding levels, including the Build A Pool, Save A Life Sponsorship where companies can pledge funds based on the number of pools built or maintenance contracts signed each year. 100 percent of funds go directly to Step Into Swim programming. Visit to see a full list of supporters and to learn more about how to get involved.


About Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and Step Into Swim:

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 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

Step Into SwimTM is an initiative of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and its foundation committed to safe swim education and drowning prevention. By investing in the next generation of swimmers through learn-to-swim programming, the Step Into Swim initiative instills confidence, empowers long-term participation in water activities, touts the positive benefits of water play, and advocates for safe practices. Since its inception in 2012, Step Into Swim has played a role in reducing drowning fatalities and has gifted swim lessons to more than 285,000 children with support from community organizations, partners, industry advocates, members and more. For more information, visit

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Spearman will serve in a newly created position and brings to Hayward a strong operations background that includes domestic and international operations leadership, Lean Manufacturing deployment expertise, and strategic capacity and operational footprint design

Derek Spearman – Vice President of US Manufacturing

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – January 14, 2022 – Hayward Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HAYW) (“Hayward”), global designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad portfolio of pool equipment and technology, announces that Derek Spearman is joining the company as the Vice President of US Manufacturing. In this newly created role, Spearman will be responsible for all plant and planning operations for the company’s US-based plants.

“I am honored to join the Hayward team, and I look forward to continuing to build upon its solid foundation,” Spearman said. “Hayward is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the rapidly changing manufacturing environment thanks to its great business model and talented management team. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I am looking forward to making an impact.”

Spearman is joining Hayward’s Global Operations Staff, which is led by Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer Donald Smith.

“Derek Spearman is joining Hayward in a new and vitally-important role where he will add additional experience, capacity and quality to what is already a world-class Operations team. Hayward will benefit greatly from Derek’s expertise in domestic and international operations leadership, Lean Manufacturing deployment, and strategic capacity and operational footprint design. I am excited for him to get started,” Smith said.

Spearman is joining Hayward after spending four years at Timken Company where he was the Vice President of Lovejoy Incorporated. At Timken, Spearman directed operations at five domestic and international plants staffed by more than 400 people, and he managed budgets exceeding $100 million.

Spearman has also previously held roles as a Director of Operations, Plant Manager, Six Sigma Blackbelt Lean Leader, Quality Director, and Area Manager with organizations such as GKN Driveline, Matcor-Matsu Group, Ford Motor Company, Eli Lilly, and Whirlpool Corporation.

Spearman earned an MBA from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science from Purdue University.

About Hayward Holdings, Inc.

Hayward Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HAYW) is a leading global designer and manufacturer of pool equipment and technology all key to the SmartPad™ conversion strategy designed to provide a superior outdoor living experience. Hayward offers a full line of innovative, energy-efficient and sustainable residential and commercial pool equipment, including a complete line of advanced pumps, filters, heaters, automatic pool cleaners, LED lighting, internet of things (IoT) enabled controls, alternate sanitizers and water features.

This release contains forward-looking statements and information relating to the Company that are based on the beliefs of management as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to management. When used in this release, words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “intend,” “potential,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “plan,” “target,” “predict,” “project,” “seek” and similar expressions as they relate to us are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements reflect management’s current views with respect to future events, are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Further, certain forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions as to future events that may not prove to be accurate. Actual results or events could differ materially from the plans, intentions and expectations disclosed in forward-looking statements. Hayward has based these forward-looking statements largely on management’s current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that management believes may affect Hayward’s business, financial condition and results of operations. Important factors that could affect Hayward’s future results and could cause those results or other outcomes to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements include the following: our ability to execute on our growth strategies and expansion opportunities; our ability to maintain favorable relationships with suppliers and manage disruptions to our global supply chain and the availability of raw materials; our relationships with and the performance of distributors, builders, buying groups, retailers and servicers who sell our products to pool owners; competition from national and global companies, as well as lower cost manufacturers; impacts on our business from the sensitivity of our business to seasonality and unfavorable economic and business conditions; our ability to identify emerging technological and other trends in our target end markets; our ability to develop, manufacture and effectively and profitably market and sell our new planned and future products; failure of markets to accept new product introductions and enhancements; the ability to successfully identify, finance, complete and integrate acquisitions; our ability to attract and retain senior management and other qualified personnel; regulatory changes and developments affecting our current and future products; volatility in currency exchange rates; our ability to service our existing indebtedness and obtain additional capital to finance operations and our growth opportunities; impacts on our business from political, regulatory, economic, trade, and other risks associated with operating foreign businesses; our ability to establish and maintain intellectual property protection for our products, as well as our ability to operate our business without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property rights of others; the impact of material cost and other inflation; the impact of changes in laws, regulations and administrative policy, including those that limit US tax benefits or impact trade agreements and tariffs; the outcome of litigation and governmental proceedings; impacts on our business from the COVID-19 pandemic; and other risks and uncertainties set forth under “Risk Factors” in the prospectus for Hayward’s initial public offering and in Hayward’s subsequent SEC filings.


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