Global Drive To Influence Hot Tub Legislation

Above: Aiming to enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas, the Virgina Graeme Baker Act has far reaching implications for the water leisure industry.

The International Hot Tub Association was formed in 1998 shortly after the enactment of the Virginia Graham Baker Act (Law), an American Law, named after the daughter of Nancy and James Baker and the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James  Baker III who died in a tragic incident in June 2002 when the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water. The well-intentioned goals of the VGBA were: to enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas; to reduce child drownings, to  reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents, injuries and deaths; and to educate the public on the importance of constant supervision of children in and around water. But the implications of the well-intentioned law had farreaching consequences for the water leisure industry – many of these were negative.

Spearheaded by Andy Tournas of ThermoSpas, the IHTA was borne out of the Virginia Graham Baker Act. Consisting of a group of dedicated manufacturers, suppliers and distributors and retailers, they concluded there was not enough monitoring of legislation at the Federal or State Level by anyone in the portable hot tub industry. It was vowed that there should never be another law enacted without the industry knowing about it so we can be proactive as an industry.


A significant portion of their annual budget is allocated to subcontracting with Stateside Associates, a firm specialising in monitoring legislation, regulations, codes and standards. The group formed an industry first Engineering Committee made up of engineers throughout the portable hot tub industry. This group monitors alerts from Stateside and gets involved with writing groups and Bill sponsors before they are enacted taking a proactive approach in influencing any legislative or regulation agenda.

On an international scope, the group has been heavily involved with Canada’s recent review of energy standards and is working
on having an official seat on that committee. This is where domestic meets the international aspirations of the association.
“We working currently to have collaborative ties with the different associations representing portable hot tubs throughout the world” stated Mitch Brooks, IHTA Executive Director. “We already have manufacturing and safety standards already in place  which work, where other countries are now just developing them. “It’s important that we work together and do the best we can to keep laws and standards uniform throughout the world. We have worked hard to separate portable hot tub standards from swimming pool and in ground spa standards. They are totally different products.”


Above: Bob Lauter, IHTA’s newly elected Board President is Chief Executive Officer of Master Spas based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


The IHTA held its Annual Meeting at the start of this year and elected their officers and directors for the New Year. Bob
Lauter from Master Spas is the new President. Mike Dunn from Watkins Manufacturing is the Vice President and Cindi Magray
from Spa Manufacturers is the Secretary Treasurer. The elected Directors are: Michel Authier, Gecko Alliance; Jeff Bailey, Spring  Dance Hot Tubs; John Day, Sloan LED; Don Elkington, Coast Spas Manufacturing; Steve Hammock, Watkins Manufacturing; Jerry Hyland, PoolCorp; Patti Kirsch, Waterway Plastics; Bob Moore, Custom Molded Products; Sue Rogers, Oregon Hot Tubs; Larry Savage, Lawrence R Savage Associates and Howard Smith from Pleatco. Bob Lauter, IHTA’s newly elected Board President is Chief Executive Officer of Master Spas based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Master Spas is one of the largest manufacturers of hot tubs and swim spas in the world. Master Spas’ diverse line of products can be found in homes around the globe and include Twilight Series Spas and Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas.

Above: Other IHTA officers include Mike Dunn from Watkins Manufacturing, who is the Vice President.

Bob has been a leader in the hot tub and spa industry for more than 30 years and has been CEO of Master Spas for fifteen years.
He sits on several boards and has received numerous honors for his contribution to the industry including the Association of
Pool and Spa Professionals INSPIRE Award, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Better Business Bureau
Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.
The group just launched its new website geared for consumers and industry members. They have plans to provide several
seminars at this year’s International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana and will take part in the Piscine Expo in
Lyon, this autumn as it has at the previous two French shows.


Above: The IHTA sets out to inform and protect both the hot tub user and the industry as a whole

International Hot Tub Association
Tel. +1 941 2064482