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PHTA Announces 2020 Award Recipients

  • Nov 20, 2020


Media Contact:
Janay Rickwalder, CAE
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
703-357-3918 |

PHTA Announces 2020 Award Recipients

(Alexandria, Va.) - The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is proud to announce the winners of its 2020 Awards, including the Certified Building Professional Lifetime Achievement Award, Certified Service Professional of the Year, Retailer of the Year and Young Professional of the Year.

This year’s award winners are as follows:

Certified Building Professional Lifetime Achievement Award (Posthumous Awards)

Robert Baron, Baron Pool Service & Larry Biscornet, LBI Pools
The CBP Lifetime Achievement Award is a peer-nominated award. It is awarded posthumously to a CBP who has advanced the pool building profession through outstanding achievements and dedication to the industry.

Robert Baron, Owner, Baron Pool Service
T. Robert (Bob) Baron III, owner of Baron Pool Service in Ramsey, New Jersey, worked in the pool and hot tub industry for nearly 60 years. Throughout his career, Bob was an extremely involved member of the PHTA.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, he followed his father into the pool industry. He joined his father’s pool company in 1961 before establishing his own firm, Baron Pool Service, in 1976. Bob was former president of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) and one of the association’s most active volunteers. He was the only person to have served as NESPA president for two terms, from 1992-93 and 2003-04. Baron played key roles in numerous NESPA committees and served on nearly every task force for the organization throughout his career.

An early advocate for industry education, he participated in PHTA’s preceding organizations, APSP and NSPI, taking part in the Builders Council and the Service Council, which he chaired for a term. As a member of the Builder’s Council, he helped to originate and construct the first demonstration pools at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo. For his contributions, he was named a PHTA Fellow.

Bob was one of the Northeast’s longest-serving instructors, teaching certification courses across organizations. He also helped write numerous texts, guides and handbooks. Bob was an active member of his church and the Rotary Club, and he worked for the local volunteer fire department, where he once served as chief. Bob passed away unexpectedly on December 1, 2019 at the age of 76.

Larry Biscornet, Owner, LBI Pools
Owner of LBI Pools in New Rochelle, New York, Larry Biscornet was active in the pool and hot tub industry for more than 50 years. A well-known industry leader, Larry served in a variety of leadership positions with the PHTA and many other industry organizations. He served as president of both the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) and the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA). He also was a key founding member of APSP’s Service Council.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Larry moved to New Rochelle as a child. He was in high school when he started working at LBI Pools, which was founded by his father. After graduating from high school, Larry served in the U.S. Marine Corps, but he always came home to help his father when he was on leave. Larry took over LBI in the 1970s after his father passed away.

In the mid-1980s, he joined the NESPA and its Metro Chapter, where he served as Metro Chapter president from 1993 to 1995. Later, he became part of NESPA’s board, working his way up the chairs until he became president in 1999. Larry remained on the board until 2014 and served on a number of NESPA committees. In 2014, he was recognized as an APSP Fellow, a prominent honor rewarded to industry leaders who have made contributions to raise professionalism in the aquatics community.

Larry played a key role in founding the APSP Service Council in 1997. He and his best friend, Bob Baron, lobbied to start the council. Larry was voted the council’s first liaison to the APSP Board of Directors and soon after became one of the council’s first presidents. He also helped write APSP’s first service manuals and builders manuals. He went on to serve as APSP chairman in 2006.

Larry retired in 2018 when he sold his business. He passed away on December 31, 2019 at the age of 73.

Certified Service Professional of the Year

Craig Sears, President and Founder, Sears Pool Management
The Certified Service Professional of the Year Award is a peer-nominated award. Each year, it is awarded to one CSP who has advanced the service profession through outstanding achievements and dedication to the industry.

Craig’s passion for swimming and the aquatics industry led him to establish Sears Pool Management in 1997. Today, he is involved in the company’s day-to-day activities with a focus on building and sustaining quality service and customer relationships. Craig serves on the board of the PHTA. He also founded the Greater Atlanta Water Safety Alliance, a non-profit chapter of the NDPA (National Drowning Prevention Alliance) dedicated to community water safety education. He is an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Trainer, NSPF CPO Instructor. Additionally, Craig has earned the highest industry designations of APSP as a Certified Service Professional and Certified Building Professional. 

He holds CPO, LGIT, APSP Tech I, II and CSP certifications and is also a CPO instructor. In 2018, Craig was awarded the prestigious position of APSP (PHTA) Fellow. He earned a degree in Biology from Washington and Lee University and a master’s degree in Management from Georgia State University.

Retailer of the Year

National Pools of Roanoke, Inc.: Ginnie Vaughan, General Manager & Jason Vaughan, Vice President
The Retailer of the Year Award recognizes one outstanding retailer that has advanced the retail profession through outstanding achievements and dedication to the industry.

Ginnie Vaughan, General Manager of National Pools, joined the company full-time in 2003 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management. With a specialty in outdoor furniture, she helps manage the company’s retail store, overseeing purchasing and sales of the department. Armed with extensive product knowledge, water chemistry expertise and computer management skills, Ginnie also leads the National Pools retail sales team. With nearly 18 years of experience, Ginnie takes pride in offering superior service to every National Pools customer. As a dedicated PHTA member, she assists her husband Jason Vaughan with all of the duties at their local chapter.

Jason Vaughan, Vice President, started his career with National Pools in 1993. In the summers, he worked part-time for his family’s business in the construction division. While working towards his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech, Jason started working full-time in design and sales in 1999. He now oversees the company’s new sales, design and construction; supervising residential and commercial construction, and managing employees. 

Jason is a member of several industry organizations, including the PHTA and United Aqua Group (MAC committee member). He also serves as the President and Secretary/Treasurer of the PHTA’s Central Virginia Chapter. Jason holds certifications in APSP Certified Building Professional, Tech I & Tech II Certified, NSPF Certified Pool Operator, Certified Pool Operator Instructor, and many manufacturers’ training courses.  He is also a PADI Certified Scuba Diver. 

Over the years, National Pools of Roanoke has received several awards, including a Pool & Spa News Top 50 Builder. Ginnie and Jason Vaughan have both actively volunteered to advance the pool and hot tub industry locally and nationally for more than a decade.

Young Professional of the Year

Julie Kazdin-Boucher, Vice President, Kazdin Pools and Spas
The Young Professionals of the Year Award recognizes forward-thinking leaders under the age of 40 who will be the voice and next generation of pool and spa professionals.

Julie Kazdin-Boucher, Vice President of Kazdin Pools and Spas in Southampton, New York, has worked in the pool and spa industry since she was in high school in the 1990s. Her father founded the company in the 1970s. Today, as a second-generation business owner, Julie continues to grow the family business.  

Julie graduated from Bryant College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. After college, she took on a number of professional roles, where she refined her business expertise. When she returned to Kazdin Pools in her mid-20s, she brought modern business techniques to the company that created an environment for growth and rebuilding.

Julie is an extremely active PHTA member and the current President of the local chapter of her pool association LIPSA. At NESPA, she currently serves on the executive committee as Secretary and is moving through the chairs.

At the national level, Julie is on the Service Council and will be speaking as part of the Service Power Panel at the upcoming International Pool and Spa Show in 2020. She is also creating at mentorship program with the Manufacturers Council to be presented at the same show.

Julie recently accepted a position at Watershape University to help create a business education program for pool professionals. She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Hampton Bays.

“We are proud to honor each of these outstanding pool and spa professionals,” says PHTA President and CEO Sabeena Hickman, CAE. “Thanks to the incredible work of these dedicated leaders, our industry continues to grow, evolve and flourish. Congratulations to all of our 2020 winners!”

For more information, please contact Janay Rickwalder, PHTA’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, at or 703.357.3918.


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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