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    Credit: Tom Cucinotta and Mari Lange

Two more pool professionals have joined the ranks as winners of Pleatco’s annual Perfect Pool Guy and Gal contest.

Tom Cucinotta and Mari Lange were given their honors at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo last month in New Orleans. The winners, both from Florida, were also awarded an expense-paid trip for two to the Expo, about $5,000 worth of Genesis 3 classes, and $1,000 worth of Pleatco products.

Cucinotta, owner of Cucinotta’s Pool Service in Boynton Beach, said the seeds of his success were sown years ago when he began performing an increasing amount of equipment replacement jobs.

Over time, Cucinotta became known for the number of pump installations he was completing in his area, so much so that he began holding seminars around the state, giving other pool service technicians tips on how to improve their businesses.

“After those classes, I still get calls from all over the state. It’s been a really fun ride. I just enjoy helping other people ‘get it’ and take their business to another level.”

Cucinotta has approximately 600 accounts and employs 12 techs. Since winning the Pleatco award he’s heard from many friends in the industry who’ve seen him featured in magazines and is scheduled to be on a national radio show in the spring.

“It’s been fun,” Cucinotta said. “I would’ve never thought that all the hard work and traveling would’ve led to something like this.”

Lange owns Algae Eaters in Bradenton and was a finalist for the Pool Gal of the Year award three years ago. This year, she got an email suggesting that she nominate herself for the award. She did, and won.

“I think what got me the award is that I really love the business and that shows when someone talks to me how much I enjoy my job,” she said. “I’m an open, friendly person, and a hard worker, and I think a lot of that comes through.”

Lange has been a service tech for more than 20 years. “It has been a little rough being a woman, but I’m dependable and honest and that’s how I’ve compensated,” she said. “Doing what I say I’m going to do, and that’s what’s important in this business.”

Both winners said they enjoyed the courses they took at the Expo as part of their prize.

“The Genesis 3 class was amazing—it taught me so much,” Lange said. “I have all this new knowledge and a fire under me. I’m planning on building my business.”

For Pleatco, the awards selection process is very involved.

“We give them 10 to 15 questions, and we ask them to answer them on a video,” said John Antretter, chief operating officer of the company, based in Glen Cove, N.Y. “It’s not a TV production, just let us know who you are.”

Questions include ‘What’s the most moving experience in your career? What would you do to change the industry? Why do you love your job?’ The selection board also checks references from customers and others in the industry, such as suppliers.

Pleatco began the awards five years ago and they’ve become integral to the company. “If homeowners don’t have a positive experience with their pool and spa, that’s bad for business,” Antretter said. “So having top-end service people to ensure that homeowners have an outstanding experience, that’s important to everyone in the industry. We all make money if the service people do their job.”