Get to know NESPA Members in a new light! This month, we spotlight long-time volunteer leader Rob Romano (David Cooke Plaster Co.)
How long have you worked in the pool & spa industry?
Thirty-four years officially. A little longer, if you count, riding in the truck with my dad and his employees before I was able to drive.
How has being a part of NESPA impacted your career?
I've been a member of NESPA for as long as I can remember. The networking and relationships I've created have definitely helped expand our business within our operating area. Having your finger on the pulse of the industry allows me to be a go-to person in my field for my current and potential clients.
What was your first industry job?
My first official job at 16 with a driver's license was cleaning pools. I was a "Vac Guy." I even had to drive my own vehicle and was paid $10/pool. That averaged to about $400/week. Back in 1987, I was making money! Before that, the other "Vac Guys," service techs and construction foreman, had the privilege of being my babysitter.
What is your favorite pool project that you have worked on and why?
I have a few. The one that comes to mind is NESPA Best of Competition Winner. It was a total group effort from design to completion. It was a three-tiered vanishing edge pool on the side of a hill overlooking a lake in Bedford, NY. My brother, Johnny, captured the best picture where the spa, pool, and lake looked like they were all one.
What are the key skills or traits a person needs to be successful in our industry?
Leadership, dedication, loyal, passionate and be knowledgeable about what you do. I believe that plays into anyone's success within their industry, but it is especially relevant with ours.
Tell us about your favorite Pool & Spa Show memory?
There are so many. I've been attending the Show since 1992, and I think I missed two shows during that time. I have so many great memories, from huge dinners with NESPA leaders to dressing up for the opening party. But one of my favorite memories is when Kyle Chaikin and I got hold of these slingshot monkeys that screamed when you launched them. We terrorized Paulette, and whoever else was in the speaker-ready room with these things.
When you aren't working, you are…?
Spending time with Freya, my daughter, and Lynda. I love to fish, golf and …. Game.
What is something that most people don't know about you (fun fact)?
I'm a big geek. I like Sci-Fy, fantasy, D&D, and Vikings. Being 1/2 Icelandic has put me in touch with my Viking side. In other words, I was into Vikings before it was cool. I do visit Iceland regularly to see family friends. Also, I hold dual citizenship with the USA and Iceland.
Who inspires you?
My daughter. She makes me a better person. Seeing the world through her eyes helps keep things in perspective.
What's one thing - either industry-related or not - you learned in the last month?
I learned to straighten my shoulders more when swinging a golf club
If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Mom veal parmigiana. She's Icelandic but will outcook any Italian mother with her veal. Or any other meal for that matter.