Jack Huisingh, the executive director of Holland Aquatic Center, has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2024. He has led HAC for more than 10 years.
A national search for Huisingh’s replacement will begin soon by a select committee of HAC’s Board of Directors.
“Jack’s leadership has been pivotal for HAC,” says Sara Giesler, HAC’s recently retired chair of the Board of Directors who served in that capacity for the past nine years. “HAC would not be where it is today without him. Beyond his astute business acumen, community connections, and strong negotiating skills, Jack has a passion for creating opportunities for everyone to succeed and win. Whether it is with staff, kids learning to swim, teams competing, or special programs like Silver Sneakers and Rock Steady boxing, he loves to see people getting better, doing better, and becoming a better version of themselves. He has led the transformation of our facility and, with it, many lives. He will be missed.”
Huisingh became the leader of HAC in October 2013 after a successful 29-year career in the automotive-supply industry where he held various roles in sales and management for Donnelly-Magna Corp. and Prince Corp./Johnson Controls. His decision to leave the private sector to lead a public organization was one born out of his desire to make a lasting impact on his community.
“Eleven years ago, I felt a pull to become more involved and improve something in our community that would last for generations, particularly at an organization that was near and dear to my heart,” says Huisingh who was a competitive swimmer for Holland High School and Hope College. “HAC was that place. I learned how to swim here, competed in high school, watched both of my children and now my grandchildren swim here. It is just a special place for me.”
Huisingh’s tenure has been most notably marked by HAC’s substantial growth – not only in its physical footprint due to a recently-completed, taxpayer-supported $26.3 million expansion and renovation, but also in its community wellness offerings as well as its job creation. Each of these growth factors were the direct result of Huisingh’s visionary leadership, accomplished with his paramount goal of financial stability to establish HAC as a premier aquatic and wellness center for all ages and abilities.
“Because of Jack’s tenure and leadership, HAC refreshed and expanded and created many new benefits and programs for members of our community,” says Tim Hemingway, finance chair of the HAC Board of Directors. “In conjunction with a wonderful facility, he put together a terrific team of talented people to make the customer experience superb. And in doing all of this, Jack led HAC to a new level. As a community, we can be proud of the great facilities and programs at HAC.”
In 2015, two years into his tenure, Huisingh realized a need to expand and renovate HAC to operate competitive, community, and fitness programming simultaneously. At the time, several community offerings, such as Family Splash time and community lap swim, had to be closed or cancelled in order to host competitive swim meets.
After three years of national benchmarking and research, Huisingh and the HAC Board of Directors put before the Holland Public School District taxpayers a bond proposal for $26.3 million over 20 years to add 50,000 square feet for community wellness and recreation. The new plans called for an additional five-lane practice pool; a new six-lane, warm-water lap pool; enhanced and expanded family recreation areas and amenities; indoor track; updated and expanded fitness spaces; increased spectator seating in the 50-meter pool; a new universal changing room; and an expanded lobby. Through a special election in 2019, and an additional $3 million raised by the HAC Foundation, all of this was achieved when 63% of those who voted approved of the plan.
Additionally, every-five-year millage renewal success continued under Huisingh with the most recent millage election being approved by 75% of those who voted in 2023.
“We are very thankful to Holland residents who agreed to help us make this place for every age, every family, every day,” says Huisingh, who also served as a trustee on the Board of Education for Holland Public Schools from 2008 to 2013. “This is truly a place for our community to come together, all year-round, to experience connection and fitness and fun.”
Since the completion of the renovation and expansion project in 2022, HAC’s staff has grown from 70 employees in 2019 to 142 today. Annual daily visits to HAC have grown exponentially, from 200,000 prior to the renovation and expansion to over 350,000 in 2023. Fitness offerings – in the water and on dryland – grew from a handful of classes in 2019 to more than 40 different classes in 2023.
Also due to his bold innovation, Huisingh was the impetus behind adding a fourth pillar – rehabilitation and therapy – to HAC’s three other operational foundations that include swim instruction, competitive excellence, and community wellness and fitness. From 2021 to 2022, Mary Free Bed Hospital of Grand Rapids signed on to house a lakeshore location in HAC’s west wing. Today, HAC and Grand Rapids-based The Center for Physical Rehabilitation have partnered to achieve this purpose.
“I have been blessed to be a part of a team that works tirelessly to impact and improve the health and wellness of our community today and for generations to come,” Huisingh concludes. “This has been the perfect place for me to finish my career.”