Our special Expo Issue this year focuses on companies outside the pool and spa industry that are inspiring to people who work in our market.

For example, Stewart Vernon, owner of America’s Swimming Pool Co., admires the way carpet cleaning franchise Stanley Steemer gives employees the tools and education they need to make decisions in the field rather than spending valuable time, while the customer is waiting, trying to get permission from the office to make a change.

Here at Pool & Spa News, I asked the editorial and art team to name companies inspire them. The answers I received are great — and interesting.

  • Denise Baker, graphic artist
  • MOG.com: For just $4.99 a month I have access to over 1 million albums to listen to in their entirety for as many times as I want, anytime I want. Now that is just the coolest thing for a music lover like me on a budget.

  • Nick Orabovic, graphic artist
  • AT&T U-Verse Television: They are a game-changer, breaking the model of constricted, regulated cable, which was forced upon customers who did not have options of satellite. They did this by developing a fiberoptic, high-quality television choice that offers more channels than conventional cable, specifically in high-definition.

  • Tim Bobko, graphic artist
  • DC Comics / DC Entertainment: DC Comics has recently revamped their entire mainstream line of comics. They have taken a brand that is over 60 years old and revitalized it, making a pretty tired industry interesting to a new generation. They were not afraid to put an “edge” on branded costumes and storylines, updating and streamlining for the better. It kept older readers and gained new ones.

  • Dan Schechner, managing editor
  • Goodwill Industries: These stores inspire me because of the outstanding work they do in providing jobs for the local community. Also, I donate items to my nearby branch frequently, and am always greeted by friendly employees who make me feel as if my contributions are greatly appreciated. 

  • Rebecca Robledo, senior editor
  • Trader Joe’s: I’m an admirer of this chain of grocery stores, which feel like specialty food markets. I am in awe of how they have managed to spread like wildfire, with about 350 stores across the United States, while retaining the corporate culture of a small family business and holding steady to their missions of providing unique, high-quality products at reasonable prices.

  • Margi Millunzi, Web editor
  • Crate&Barrel: While I love their products, I am more impressed with the firm’s customer service. From the option of a live chat on their Website (they have a clean and easy-to-navigate site) to a personal letter after a sale to a final call to make sure that the items arrived OK (who still does that in this day and age?), they ensure that their customers are taken care of during and after the sale. They are known for their signature black-and-white boxes, and spot-on displays and catalogs, but I think it’s the staff that makes this business stand out.