Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Announces 2023 Award Recipients

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), the trade association representing the swimming pool, hot tub, an spa industry, is proud to announce the winners of its 2023 Awards, including Builder of the Year, Service Professional of the Year, Retailer of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Chapter of the Year.

"PHTA is proud to have these outstanding professionals as part of our membership," says Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President & CEO of PHTA. "The winners recognized this year are known throughout the pool, spa, and hot tub industry as strong leaders and mentors who work hard every day to elevate our industry as a whole. Congratulations to all 2023 winners!"

This year’s award winners are as follows:

Builder of the Year
Edward Gibbs, Gib-San Pool & Landscape Creations

The Builder of the Year Award is a peer-nominated award given annually to one PHTA builder member who has advanced the pool building profession through outstanding achievements and dedication to the industry.

Edward Gibbs has a lifetime of experience in the pool industry and has proven himself as a leader through his active involvement in industry associations as well as his business management strategy. He is a past president of the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada and received their Industry Achievement Award in 2011. Gibbs is also a past chairman of the Master Pools Guild and currently serves as a member of their Executive Committee. Gibbs believes in the power of education and continually invests in training his employees.

Service Professional of the Year
Javier Payan, Payan Pool Service, Inc.

The Service Professional of the Year Award is a peer-nominated award given annually to one PHTA service member who has advanced the service profession through outstanding achievements and dedication to the industry.

Javier Payan has over 35 years of experience, during which he has developed a deep understanding of the pool business. He is committed to providing his customers with the highest quality service possible. Payan Pool Service, Inc. has been named one of the top 50 pool service providers in the United States every year since 2019. In the last year alone, the company has completed 3,200 repairs and upgrades, 21,000 cleanings, and maintained 10 million gallons of pool water each week. Payan currently serves as president of the PHTA San Diego Chapter.

Young Professional of the Year
Lance Irby, Premier Pools & Spas – Sacramento

The Young Professional of the Year Award is a peer-nominated award recognizing a forward-thinking leader under the age of 40 who will be the voice and next generation of pool and spa professionals.

Lance Irby is a detail-oriented and goal-driven professional. He has proven his ability to implement business plans, meet deadlines, hit targets, and achieve critical sales objectives. He has worked for Premier Pools & Spas for more than 10 years and earned his Certified Master Pool Builder & Design Professional (Master CBP) designation from PHTA and GENESIS®. Irby is able to excel at all facets of the business, from developing client relationships to designing and constructing beautiful pools.

Retailer of the Year
Travis Hogan, Fiesta Pools & Spas LLC

The Retailer of the Year Award is a peer-nominated award recognizing one outstanding retailer who has advanced the retail profession through outstanding achievements and dedication to the industry. This award is sponsored by LOU.

Travis Hogan purchased Fiesta Pools & Spas in 2005 and, for nearly 20 years, has kept the company on the leading edge of the industry by continuously networking and learning from colleagues, builders, manufacturers, and suppliers. Hogan and his retail team attend many meetings and training opportunities to learn about new products and services they can offer their customers. Fiesta Pools & Spas has been the recipient of the Master Pools Guild Leading EDGE Award. Hogan shares his expertise with others by serving on the PHTA Retail Council.

Volunteer of the Year
Bob Blanda, Mill Bergen Pools

The Volunteer of the Year Award is bestowed upon one prominent individual each year who has made distinguished contributions that raise professionalism in the aquatic community through their volunteering with PHTA.

Bob Blanda is a long-time member of PHTA and has served in a variety of volunteer leadership roles, including chair of the PHTA Education Committee, three-time chair of the PHTA Metro Chapter, and member of the PHTA Board of Directors. He is a generous mentor and teacher who is always willing to share his knowledge with others. He will be taking on a new volunteer role in 2024 as the builders’ representative on the PHTA Technical Advisory Council. Blanda is a tireless advocate for the industry with an unmatched passion and enthusiasm.

Chapter of the Year
PHTA Midwest Chapter

The Chapter of the Year Award recognizes one outstanding chapter that has set a stellar example for the organization, advancing and enhancing the industry through strong leadership, community outreach, and providing their members with the highest quality of programs, activities, and services.

The PHTA Midwest Chapter serves as a model for other chapters through its strong leadership, increased activity, and creative member engagement programs. The chapter has a strong focus on raising the professionalism of the industry through thoughtful networking focused on best practices and educational programs that improve their members’ knowledge and skills. They host dinners, an educational spring training event, design contests, service awards, and much more—all making a difference in their region.