Creating a “State of the Industry” issue for the pool and spa market is a tricky thing.

For starters, the “industry” actually is composed of several smaller industries — construction, service, retail, manufacturing and distribution, plus the trade associations. Each one of those segments could easily fill an issue on its own, and trying to delve into all of them with limited space is a real challenge.

Next, there’s the problem of obtaining data. Unlike housing starts or sales of new cars, there’s no truly reliable way to ascertain the actual number of pools and spas being purchased and/or remodeled. This means that writing a State of the Market report, while informative, is not an exact science.

Finally, there are unique regional characteristics that add nuance to the industry’s story. The factors governing today’s market in Texas compared with Florida or New Jersey are so different that trying to capture them all in a single report is like herding cats.

We addressed these challenges in a number of ways.

In our Pool Permits article, you’ll see many charts that detail pool construction activity in a variety of counties across the nation. This provides a quick snapshot of how many digs builders are doing and where they’re doing them. There’s also a fascinating look at the five types of consumers who are purchasing pools, and how likely they are to buy in your area. These unique profiles come from proprietary data gathered by a division of Hanley Wood (our parent company) and Claritas, a subsidiary of the Nielson company, which you might know from its high-profile work with television ratings.

But the last thing we wanted was to create was an issue full of hard data that ignores the less quantifiable trends affecting the market. So in addition to the charts and graphs, there’s an insightful piece on the different ways pool and spa professionals are using technology today. We also include a little prognostication by asking industry luminaries and other experts to weigh in on how they view the market’s future. Finally, to make it more personal, we profile three pool and spa companies that have managed not only to survive, but to thrive in this economy.

Please send me questions, comments or any other feedback about this ambitious endeavor.