Best of the Best

Best on the Web: Truth be told, the pool and spa industry has a way to go in the area of website design. Because this has become such an important portal to the image and credibility of builders, Pool & Spa News considered the quality of websites as one of the parameters for judging. These 10 fared the best, with clean opening pages, plenty of user-friendly content, compelling information about the companies themselves, and well-designed galleries. Many have begun incorporating video. Several posted sped-up time-lapse videos showing the entire pool process, while one, Platinum Pools, had a video FAQ, with Company President Scott Waldo offering the answers.

Certifications: The time and dedication it takes to attain a certification weighs heavily when Pool & Spa News assesses the employee training for each Top 50 applicant. This year, 20 of the Top 50 builders reported that at least one person on staff held one or more certifications. Once again, APSP’s Certified Building Professional designation topped this list, with 17, while the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Certified Pool/Spa Operator program and APSP’s Tech 1 and 2 were also popular.

Giving Back: Many Top 50 Builders are active in their communities and generously give of their time and resources. But these ten stood apart and received the highest score available. Good deeds ranged from building and donating pools to wounded veterans or sick children, to holding golf tournaments to raise funds for local non-profits.

High-End Builders:The average contract by the Top 50 has gone up significantly over the years. This list contains two builders reporting price tags higher than a half-million dollars. Only one of the 10 high-end builders here have an average residential pool price of less than $100,000. When taken together, the average residential pool price for the whole Top 50 was $88,071.

Industry Involvement: This chart shows which industry associations see the most membership from the Top 50. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals enjoys a significant lead here, with 46 of the 50 belonging. The National Plasterers Council holds about the same proportion of Top 50 builders as last year — 16 compared to 15 in 2013. Nearly half belong to one of the three major buying or fraternal groups. Organizations with fewer than three Top 50 builders claiming membership were not shown.

Most Digs: While the list includes some high-end firms, it also contains a number of high-volume builders. The determine volume, companies are asked the number of excavations performed in the previous calendar year. Phoenix-area builder Presidential Pools tops the chart in this respect, with 900 in 2013. In all, the Top 50 dug 9,910 pools last year.

Most Tapped In: This group takes networking seriously, belonging to the most industry and non-industry organizations, from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, to home builders groups, to those concerned with such issues as safety, health or green design.

New on the Block: While this year’s list saw many repeat participants, eight companies made their mark for the first time.

Social Media: One component of the scoring system was Web Presence, consisting of web design and social media participation. Activity on Facebook, Twitter and Houzz, along with other, miscellaneous social media activity were all considered. Of the Top 50, these 10 builders received the highest possible Social Media score.

Staffing Chops: One component for scoring Top 50 applicants was personnel issues, including average tenure and the amount and quality of training provided. Builders received points for certifications held by staff. The average employee tenure was 10.7 years.

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