Steve Pham

It’s here at last – our 2017 Top 50 Builders issue!

It’s one chock full of takeaways. We asked each of the Top 50 leaders: What was the best new idea your company implemented in the last two years?

The answers blew me away.

They can be divvied up into a few different categories, such as revenue generating ideas, staff training, or customer service improvements, but what really captured my attention was that there appeared to be two distinct themes threading through this disparate group of pool builders.

The first was a pursuit for efficiency. Many builders have implemented ways to streamline their businesses in all aspects of operations. Quite a few, such as Jeremy Smith at California Pools & Landscape, have found transformative software solutions that manage the business from “initial contact to warranty.”

Others, such as Jamison Ori of Rosebrook Pools and Robert Guarino of South Shore Gunite Pools & Spas, have come up with creative and elegant ways to be more efficient. Ori was able to add an impressive two hours of labor per crewmember per day by having employees drive directly to the job-site. Guarino purchased equipment that allows him to recycle concrete. He sells it back to customers at a reduced rate, providing a valuable service, and it keeps his staff working during slow times. Ingenious!

The second theme truly warms my heart. Many of our builders expressed concern and care for their employees. This was evident by how many builders – 14 in all, or nearly 30% – mentioned employees in response to our question.

Answers ranged from a simple philosophy to “hire for attitude” as Ron Gibbons of Gibbons Pools does, to making a concentrated commitment to improving workplace safety as Jeffrey Ciarrochi of Armond Aquatech Pools did.

But the vast majority had put new training programs in place or extensively revised existing ones. And while in most cases, it’s had a direct positive impact to the company’s bottom line, I was impressed with the firms that have created programs strictly for the employee’s welfare.

Doug Mayhall of All Seasons Pools, Spas & Outdoor Living put together a comprehensive training program meant to give each employee a good understanding of all aspects of the industry, even if their position doesn’t require it. The reason? “We feel that their exposure to it will not only give them insights into what it takes to be a swimming pool professional,” says Mayhall, “but it may also open the door for employees to want to improve their current position with All Seasons by pushing their own limits and growing into service technicians, construction employees and more.”

Another good example is Jack Crowder Jr. of NVBlu, who acknowledges that the mentorship programs they formed aren’t specifically meant to increase revenue, but rather, provide “personal and spiritual satisfaction.”

Don’t miss the other CEOs’ more practical ideas – virtual reality goggles, customer satisfaction surveys, using KPIs, and more – woven throughout the Top 50 package.

Congratulations to all who made this year’s list.