Erika Taylor

I had my bathroom remodeled about a year and a half ago using a large amount of unique and overpriced tile.

Recently, I noticed that there were openings between the tiles on certain areas of the shower wall, and water was seeping inside. I asked another contractor to take a look, and he informed me that the tile job was laughably substandard.

The entire wall would need to be redone and, to make matters worse, the fancy-schmancy tile I loved so much had been discontinued, leaving no other solution except to retile the entire bathroom. The extent of the water damage is not yet known.

The original contractor has assured me he will fix it, but is extremely hard to pin down as far as when this supposed fix will occur. Moreover, his license was revoked in March. And, although I was told it was “a long story” and “not his fault,” somehow that didn’t reassure me.

Our top news story this issue is about the death of Mission Valley Pools & Spas, a longtime builder in the San Diego area, who reportedly left a number of unfinished projects in its wake. The company’s been around for decades, and no one I spoke with saw this coming.

Often, when a builder goes under, a sort of industry death watch starts up for months beforehand as the failing company limps along behind the pack like a wounded caribou. But not this time. From what I know, Mission Valley’s demise surprised many people, including the staff at Pool & Spa News.

As the 45th builder on our upcoming 2012 Top 50 list (which will be posted online June 29), the company was subject to an exhaustive vetting process from us, including checking references from subcontractors and customers. I’ve searched my brain for something we could have done differently in order to weed them out, but haven’t yet been able to come up with a solution.

Mission Valley closed its doors on almost the same day our Top 50 issue went to the printer. They disappointed us, ruined homeowners’ plans, damaged subcontractors and hurt the industry’s reputation.

Mission Valley and my contractor were not only victims of a bad economy, poor judgment, weak construction or poor business practices. While these factors may have caused some problems, their true shortcoming was much more basic.

They lacked honor. Honorable businesspeople don’t bid jobs and not perform the work that is required. They don’t apply for awards while on the brink of going under. And they don’t leave debts unpaid.

In the end, all we have to stand on is our character.

Abraham Lincoln famously said that you can fool some of the people all of the time. But I say, you can’t do that and retain any honor.