Executive Point: Pete Smith, Chairman, ASBA
The American Sports Builders Association, the national organization for builders and suppliers for athletic facilities, including tennis courts and facilities, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. With that milestone, the organization chose as its chairman for the 2016-2017 term a Certified Tennis Court Builder who has been both building award-winning courts and volunteering his time to help improve the court-building business. Pete Smith of the CourtSMITHS of Toledo, Ohio, previously served as president of the ASBA’s Tennis Division.
TI: What goals do you have as chairman of the ASBA?
Smith: Two areas where I would like to concentrate our efforts during my term are continuing the growth of the Certified Builder Program and focusing on educating the owners of facilities on choosing the best option for their construction/repair needs.
The Tennis Division is in the process of partnering the Certified Tennis Court Builder designation with the ITF’s Recognized Court/Installer program, which will provide facility owners with assurances of the quality of the contractor they have chosen, as well as a testing mechanism to ensure the final product meets our high standards.
TI: You grew up in a family of tennis court builders. Was there a time when you made the decision to join the family business, or did you have other ideas about what you wanted to do earlier in your life?
Smith: My summers during high school and college were spent working for our family business. Upon graduation, I was planning on a career that was a little less intense during the nicer seasons of the year. But the advantages of being an independent business owner and not working in a corporate setting became apparent as I began the process of interviewing for jobs that I had little experience or passion for.
During the time I was deciding on a career, the tennis industry made a number of technological advances as it related to equipment and methods of performing the work. Essentially, the job of contractor became focused more on critical thinking and project management, rather than intensive labor. This played a large role in how I perceived court construction as a career.
TI: Your father, Kevin, held the office of chairman of ASBA before you. Do you remember him talking about it during that time?
Smith: The association was always a very integral part of our family while I was growing up. Dad would attend Technical Meetings with my brother/partner, Mike, and my parents would attend the ASBA Winter Meeting then have some vacation time with friends from the association. At home, dad spent countless hours writing or grading the certification exam and was always proud of his involvement.
TI: You are the first person to hold an ASBA office your dad has held. Do you believe you carry his ideals and goals forward?
Smith: Dad received the Industry Merit Award in 2000 because of his passion for promoting the game of tennis and the quality of the facilities built by the contractors. I was very lucky to have him as a mentor and I do believe we share the same ideals and goals. But I am very humbled to follow his lead.
TI: What is the greatest challenge you see facing tennis court contractors today?
Smith: Growing tennis is the ultimate challenge of not only court contractors, but the industry as a whole. Expanding the relationships and teamwork with industry partners such as USTA, TIA and ITF along with promotion of 36- and 60-foot courts are two valuable tools in driving the demand during this competitive arena for peoples’ luxury time.
TI: How do you think tennis has been changed by technical advancements in the construction industry?
Smith: Over the past 20 years, technical advancements have played a critical part in providing improved quality of courts, reducing the time frame of court closures, and helping to control the increases of cost to construct or repair facilities. Everything from solutions to cracks on asphalt courts to sub-irrigation of fast-dry courts have enabled contractors to provide the highest quality of product while reducing the cost of time and money to the end-user.
TI: What do you think your dad would be most surprised by, in the current tennis industry as we know it?
Smith: I’m not sure dad would be as surprised as proud of the growth and continued promotion of the high standards we have seen since the early days of the association. Contributors over the 50 years of the association, who established and fought for certification and quality specifications, would be amazed at the influence their work now has in the industry.
See all articles by Mary Helen Sprecher
About the Author
Mary Helen Sprecher is the managing editor of Sports Destinations Management Magazine, a niche business-to-business publication for planners of sports travel events, in addition to being an RSI Contributing Editor. She is the technical writer for the American Sports Builders Association and works as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore City.
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