It’s been quite a ride.
Since its inception in 2003, the Pool & Spa News Top 50 Builders list has been determined solely by residential construction revenue.
In this, the ninth year, we have decided to make the list more indicative of the best of the best by changing the judging criteria to include, in addition to revenue, factors such as staff training, Web presence, industry involvement, professional references and community service.
Many of this year’s Top 50 Builders are familiar names, with 36 companies carrying over from past lists. But the additional criteria have allowed 14 new builders to join this elite group. And several companies placed in the upper ranks when they may not even have obtained a spot on the list under the old format. In fact, even in the top 10, companies that generated less than $4 million in residential construction revenue co-mingle with firms that did significantly more business.
Here, we examine who’s on the list and take a look at their strengths. But first, take a look at the full 2012 Top 50 Builder list
Residential Construction Revenue
Though not the only deciding factor, this figure still counted significantly when selecting the Top 50. All told, these firms generated residential construction revenue of $494.8 million. New work accounted for $433.5 million of that amount. The figure includes renovation.
to view the Top 50 Builder residential construction revenue list.
Top 5 StaffingAfter residential construction revenue, staff tenure and training had the most impact in determining the Top 50 ranking. The group reported an average employee tenure of 9.5 years, with Concord Pools recording the longest, at 21 years.
Certifications Having a number of employees who hold certifications was looked upon especially favorably in the ranking. Of this group, 17 had at least one staff member certified by an industry organization. Examples include APSP, Genesis 3, the National Plasterers Council and the American Concrete Institute.
Industry Involvement Trade group participation carried weight in the scoring, though not as much as some of the other categories. Currently, 43 of the Top 50 are members of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. “I don’t make any money or get any leads from doing it,” Aqua Pool & Patio’s Michael Giannamore says. “But, hopefully, I am helping build a better pool industry and therefore [it’s] benefiting me.”
Outside Involvement The Top 50 join groups outside the industry as well. Most popular organizations are the Better Business Bureau, with 32 belonging. Home-building and general contracting groups come next, with 23 members. Chambers of Commerce also place high. “I never go to a Chamber function where someone doesn’t come up to me and say, ‘I’m looking for a pool. I need to call you,’” says Debra Smith of Pulliam Pools.
Top 5 Community Service Though this played a lesser role in ranking the Top 50, the idea of giving back is close to these builders’ hearts. Many donate generously of their time and money, whether it be building a pool or participating in a charitable event. Several company presidents say it has seeped into their corporate cultures. “A lot of the causes out there are aligned with what we believe in as a company,” says Paul Porter of Premier Pools & Spas.
The Contributors The Top 50 are overwhelmingly involved in charities, with 45 donating to a cause. Athletic programs are particularly popular.
NEW TO THE LIST
Fresh Faces While 36 members of this elite group have remained from prior years, the new criteria made way for 14 new companies to be selected.
Top 5 Websites This category rated builders’ sites on design, functionality, a compelling company history and easy-to-use galleries. Standouts include Rosebrook Pools’ dynamic page openers, which show drawings transform into real-life projects, and Platinum Pools’ construction videos set to upbeat country music. The site also had a “browse by price” feature that shows examples of what users can get at certain price points.
Social Networkers Forty firms have Facebook pages, with 33 updating regularly. In addition, 24 companies are on Twitter, and 17 utilize other social media, such as instructional YouTube videos.
Top 10 Social Networkers In scoring this category, social media participation was considered a sign that companies are pushing the envelope in marketing their brands. Highest scorers tended to not only have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, but also update them regularly. Cody Pools, for instance, sends clients progress photos through Facebook so friends can view them as well. Overall Web efforts appear to be paying off, generating a reported 20- to 60 percent of these firms’ leads.