This industry is blessed with some top-notch builder groups. I was lucky enough to visit with one of them, Master Pools Guild, at its Spring meeting last week in San Jose. I enjoy spending time with this tight-knit group, and am always inspired by the members’ desire to share advice and help each other out.

I hadn’t been to a meeting in a while, and this time I saw some younger faces. It was much-welcome evidence that there is a new generation of future pool executives who are engaged and serious. This is attributed in part to the Guild’s Generation Next program, where seasoned managers and owners offer advice and share their experiences with younger principals and principals-to-be.

And, I have to say, the most lovely sounding word I heard at the event was this: backlog. For the first time in five or six years, many of these builders aren’t worried about where they’re going to send their crews after the current batch of projects is finished. I’m hearing good things about residential and commercial.

There are still some holdouts. California doesn’t seem to want to budge, and I hear eastern Florida is slower than western. But most parts of the country are reporting at least slight upticks. Even some of the hardest-hit areas, like Las Vegas and Phoenix, are reporting good things. In fact, one builder from the Southwest had a visible sense of relief when he reported that, not only is his market picking up after a very long, very dry drought, but some homeowners seem to have lost their obsession with price. Another told me that customers are becoming more discriminating and interested in references and credentials.

Of course, the year’s just starting, so everybody is crossing their fingers that the momentum continues.

As we start dipping our toes in the high season, how do things look so far in your market? Is residential or commercial most promising? Are your prospects still price-obsessed, or do you think they’re coming around to see reason?

And for Heaven’s sake, if you’re in California and have good news to tell, please share it! I’d like to hear some positives from my home state!