Sometimes you can’t help but feel contemplative. New Year’s Day, birthdays, milestone anniversaries — and our annual Top 50 Builders issue — all can make one pause and reflect.

Yes, you read right, and it makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Once a year, Pool & Spa News compiles a list of the industry’s 50 leading construction firms, analyzes the data and shares the top pool pros’ insights. This year as we focused on the present and future through the eyes of these pool builders, it set me to thinking.

Those of us who have been around the industry for a while certainly have seen the ebb and flow of the pool business. When I joined the magazine, Olympic gold medal diver Greg Louganis was the spokesman for NSPI (now APSP), lap pools were a rarity and distributor J.V. “Big Mac” McNeme was a larger-than-life figure — a cigar-smoking cowboy type (and proud of it) who counted actor John Wayne among his friends.

I’ve seen the industry in flush times: My first year attending the annual Expo was in New Orleans, and manufacturers were doing so well that one even hired a big steamboat for a lavish dinner cruise down the Mississippi River, complete with a live band and packed with industry folks. It was a blast!

Nowadays things are subdued. A recession of unprecedented severity is upon us, and as I hear of companies struggling, and some even succumbing, it saddens me. It’s hard to see old friends hurting.

But there is hope. I’m a glass-half-full kind of person and always look for the positive, even in trying times. Things move in cycles, and this, too, shall pass.

Lest you think I’m impossibly optimistic, consider this comment from the industry’s own Vance Gillette: “I believe the pool industry is on a rebound curve, and I’m really excited to be part of that.”

That’s’ what I’m talkin’ about.