I enjoy mints, particularly a popular brand that comes in a tin. As a fan, I am very familiar with the candy’s dimensions, as well as how long it lasts before dissolving in the mouth.

That is, until recently. It seems the company has shaved the thickness of its flagship mint by at least one-third, dramatically lowering its quality. This is disappointing for a manufacturer that has branded itself as having an especially powerful mint.

Companies that do too much watering down of their products for the sake of higher profits eventually will lose to their competitors. Remember what happened to Krispy Kreme? The small chain had a nearly fanatical following because all of its doughnuts were cooked fresh on site. After a massive expansion to other regions and a public offering, the company centralized its doughnut-creation to a few locations, and quality dropped. Over time, the stock plummeted as well.

Why am I writing about mints and doughnuts? Because all products follow the same basic rules. The pool market is sluggish in some areas, and it can be tempting for builders to cut costs by skimping on service and quality. Conversely, other regions are booming, and it’s easy for a company to expand too fast and lose its edge. The same is true for the spa business, where sales are down and retailers are facing a need to trim back on the “extras” they give customers.

Don’t give in to the urge. The sales and construction of pools and spas are, by and large, controlled by privately owned businesses. As of today, there are no shareholders demanding a specific return on their dollars.

In a down market, private businesses have a distinct advantage. Rather than lowering standards, they can invest in smart growth and high-quality products that will pay large dividends when the market rebounds.

This is the source of their curious strength.