A long time ago, I answered a brief, mysterious ad in the Los Angeles Times classified section: “Writer needed for national, business-to-business magazine.” It asked that résumés go to a P.O. box and gave no other details.

A week after sending my information, I received a garbled voice mail instructing me to call back for a phone interview. It sounded like the caller said he was from “Pool & Spawn News.” Deciding it must be some sort of fishing publication, I dialed the number, racking my brain for intelligent statements about tide pools or trout.

We were fully 10 minutes into our chat when I realized the misunderstanding. Luckily, the man conducting my phone interview still brought me in for a face-to-face meeting, even though I asked vaguely offbeat questions like, “So, is your audience science-based, or more geared toward sports activities?”

That was 14 years ago. Today, as I write this, I’m filled with gratitude to have been part of an industry that does indeed spawn, but rather than generating baby fish, it provides health and joy to hundreds of millions of people around the world. And I will miss it deeply.

This is my last column for Pool & Spa News, and my last day with the publication. I was offered an opportunity with another media company, and even though I loved my job, I felt that it was time to take on fresh challenges and grow my skills in a new direction. That said, this decision has been one of the most difficult of my entire life.

Pool and spa professionals are a rare and wonderful group. It’s an industry of charismatic visionaries whom I admire and regular folk I call my friends. In today’s world of big box everything, I’ve been privileged to work in a market dominated by family-owned businesses with a deep sense of pride in the products they produce and sell. And, as if it weren’t hard enough to leave an amazing industry, I’m also leaving a great company.

Hanley Wood, the owner of Pool & Spa News, has been more than an employer these many years. The management has given me incredible experience and training, and many of my colleagues have become like family.

So, raise a glass to a lifelong fan and I’ll do the same for you.