Meet the new NPC director of technical services
The National Plasterer’s Council has a new Director of Technical Services. Meet industry veteran Kent Westfall, owner of Kent Westfall Pool Inspections, in Bermuda Dunes, California. Since 1969, Westfall has worked in nearly every aspect of the pool and spa industry, from pool cleaning to plastering, to sales, to water treatment, to pool inspections. Westfall has an impressive resume, bringing with him expertise invaluable to the job that was last held by the late esteemed Greg Garrett. We sat down to discuss his transition to one of the NPC’s top positions.
SIN: From 2015 to 2017, Greg Garrett served as the NPC’s Director of Technical Services, commanding great respect from the industry. What’s it like to fill those shoes?
Westfall: Greg Garrett, my predecessor, was in this position for many years. We all miss him. I make no pretenses about being able to replace him. I was trained by Greg and I hope to continue what Greg started. But no one can replace Greg.
SIN: What does the job of Director of Technical Services entail?
Westfall: People tell me I’m the face of the NPC. That’s a big responsibility. I will be teaching classes and travelling across the country, going to all the various tradeshows. I’m also the NPC’s liaison with the various professional groups across the country. Part of position is joining various committees to keep the NPC abreast of industry changes.
SIN: Talk about your role as an NPC consultant.
Westfall: People contact the NPC with pool problems from all over the country. Subjects range from when to use pool after its plastered to what is a proper winterization protocol, and everything in between. There is really no shortage of topics that I’ve fielded. What I love about the NPC is that it’s made up of people from across the country, which provides tremendous networking opportunities. We all bring something to the table and we all have something to give. We’ve made all the mistakes and we can save you money. We’re here to help.
SIN: How did you start in the pool and spa industry?
Westfall: I started when I was a kid, when my family moved to Orange, California from Nebraska in 1969. Much to my surprise, I was told I had to clean the backyard pool. In 1974, I started plastering pools with Demar Barron Pool Plastering in Orange, which was the largest plastering company at the time. I was trained by some of the best, and they taught me all the little details. My boss, Maury Howard was very detail oriented. He took the time to do it right.
SIN: How did you get into pool inspections?
Westfall: That was through Greg Garrett. I got involved with Greg teaching classes, and I can’t tell you how much I learned from Greg – every time I listened to him, I’d pick up something new. In 2017, he told me to take a class on inspections, so I did. Then I started doing pool inspections for homeowner’s and the Contractors State License Board.
SIN: How do you approach potential conflicts between the building side and the service side of the industry?
Westfall: There are always two sides to a story and the truth is somewhere in the middle. The inspections I do are based on a third-party neutral approach. I use the IPSSA Training Manual,
Kent Westfall stands ready as NPC’s new Director of Technical Services
information from the PHTA, the Plaster Council Tech Manual for references. No one wants to have their work called out but if you are going to take on plastering, building, or taking care of a pool you have to understand that at some point in your career you are going to make a mistake. Step up and own it.
SIN: Based on the inspections you’ve done, what advice can you offer pool builders or service techs?
Westfall: My recommendation to everyone in the pool industry: you must keep records. Document everything you do. Everyone has a cell phone. If you are a plasterer – take a picture of the pool before you fill it. If you are a start-up person, take a picture of it when you walk into the backyard. It proves your point. If you end up in arbitration, small claims, or civil courts, what you say doesn’t matter - its hearsay. Bob Lowry has a good saying: science doesn’t care what you think. You have to document it. It’s the only way to protect yourself. People say they don’t have time, and then they have to make time to spend it with me. It only takes a few minutes each day. The forms are out there – Google it. If you can hand me documentation that proves you did everything you were supposed to, how can I argue with that?
SIN: Looking forward, what do you think are the NPC’s important goals?
Westfall: The NPC has been working on an apprenticeship program and I’m excited about getting that fired back up. Us older people have been at it for years and we need to pass on what we know. The first thing is to teach kids that you don’t have to go to college to be successful. There’s nothing wrong with going to college – don’t get me wrong, but it is not necessary to make a good living. You can do very well in a trade type of job. A lot of people really do love working with their hands.
And if you love what you are doing at work, it’s not work. So, hopefully the apprenticeship program is going to take off.
My hopes are high.
The NPC created the position of Director of Technical Services in 2015 when Greg Garrett accepted the post. Garrett began his career as a pool builder in 1969, was a founding member of the NPC, volunteered countless hours to pool associations and committees, and educated pool professionals across the country on a variety of topics related to plastering before his sudden death in 2019. It is with humility and honor that Westfall carries the mantle.
Greg Garrett, 1955 - 2019