Service techs occupy an unfortunate place in the American psyche.

Often referred to dismissively as “pool men” — or, even worse, “pool boys” — many people see techs as aimless stoners who lack the ambition or intelligence needed to land a “real” job.

This image is further perpetuated in the media. I can’t even count how many films I’ve seen featuring a hunky, not-very-bright “pool boy” whose sole purpose is to satisfy the sexual needs of one of the other characters.

Those of us in the industry know that how the tech is viewed by society is deeply inaccurate and based on nothing but unfair prejudice. Well … almost.

I am privileged to be acquainted with dozens of smart, capable, highly trained service technicians who are a credit to the entire industry. In fact, this type of professional seems to be in the majority.

But sadly, they aren’t the only ones out there.

Indeed, a number of service techs appear to do more drinking and use drugs more often than their counterparts in other fields.

Until now, there’s been no real data to back that up — only anecdotal evidence from techs themselves, along with other industry members. But over my nine years with Pool & Spa News, the topic has come up repeatedly from concerned manufacturers and trade organizations; even the occasional homeowner will call our office.

Which is why we decided to learn more about the extent of the problem and the reasons behind it. Late last year, Pool & Spa News conducted a groundbreaking survey on substance use in the service sector.

While the results certainly show there’s a problem, it may not be as severe as some think. The clear majority of service technicians are responsible, hardworking individuals who struggle to overcome the negative public image of their field.

Our article about the survey can be found here. I realize it may offend some readers, but if this issue is to be overcome, it’s imperative that we start with accurate information. In future editions of Pool & Spa News, we will publish stories that cover, in more depth, how business owners can create a workplace culture that helps to mitigate the problem.

We value your feedback. You are welcome to share your thoughts on this and other issues with Pool & Spa News.