It’s crucial that business owners watch over their companies with the single-minded focus of a chain-saw juggler. But it’s equally important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Lately, I’ve thought a lot about the big picture. One concept I’ve been mulling over is that all professionals, regardless of their industries, stand on the shoulders of those who came before.

I remember learning about Gregor Mendel in high school. He was an Austrian monk living in the middle of the 19th century, who, using nothing but pea plants, figured out that when you bred a white flowered variety with a purple flowered one, the result is not a mix of the two. Instead, the offspring would have purple flowers. Mendel then came up with the idea of hereditary “factors,” one recessive and the other dominant. The dominant characteristic, such as the purple flower, will hide the recessive factor, the white flower.

The father of modern genetics had no idea that his discovery would inspire a chain of scientific knowledge stretching literally hundreds of years after those simple experiments in a monastery garden.

Two more links on that chain were James Watson and Francis Crick. Utilizing much of what had been learned since Mendel, they discovered the mysterious, beautiful structure of DNA — a double helix — the base shape of life.

And it goes on, each breakthrough spurring another, each mind holding all the knowledge contained before and then pushing it forward with new innovations.

Though most fields are not quite as high stakes as cracking the code of human life, the concept of picking up where those before us have left off is applicable to almost every profession.

I think of this now after learning recently that Frank Geremia died (see our story) and feeling surprised by my own reaction.

I didn’t know Frank well at all — I only met the man twice — yet I was very sad to find out that he had passed. After thinking about it for a while, I realized my sorrow came from the fact that, in our industry, Frank was truly one of those links in the chain. His death represents a loss, not just for those close to him, but also for an entire community that had benefited from his years of hard work and accumulated knowledge.

Frank gave an enormous amount of his time, energy, leadership and wisdom during an era when the pool and spa industry was still defining itself. His work with SPEC and the Master Pools Guild left positive and permanent impressions on both organizations. At the end of the day, Frank left this place better than it was when he found it.