You’ve heard of Ocean’s 11. Meet Dick’s 11. Or is it Dick’s Dozen? It’s kind of hard to say. No one is keeping a head count.

This group of a dozen or so pool professionals — competitors, actually — operates with a simple code: “I’ll help you. You help me.”

They are not a chapter of an industry association — though members, if you can call them that, do belong to FSPA. Rather, they are a loosely defined consortium of mostly single-polers. No fees, no regular meetings, no keeping of minutes, and no exchanging of money.

They are just group of pros who like referring jobs to one another and can call on each other if they’re stumped.

You see, each member of what’s become known as the Tampa Group, is a specialist. One guy is a gas heater expert. Another is the defacto chemistry wizard. Another is known as the automation guru. If one can’t do the job, he’ll call on the guy (or gal) who can.

“We all try to keep each other in the backyard,” says Wayne Herring, owner of Vortex Pool Service and the go-to chemistry guy. “We just came to the understanding that we’d help each other out.”

The ringleader, if there is one, is Dick Abare. You recognize the name because he is this year’s Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy. Abare has, more or less, hand selected each member of the Tampa Group. They are people he trusts and who, in turn, trust him.

Abare walked Herring through his very first repair.

“I automatically wanted to return the favor,” Herring said.

Say a member is called to bid on a job, but the pool is off the beaten path of the tech’s route, or maybe the pro isn’t familiar with the equipment. He’ll refer that customer to one of the Tampa Group members. No referral fee, no money exchanged.

It’s been working like that for about 10 years now.

“I’m completely boggled by it,” says Mickey Sigmon, owner of Pool Pro, Inc. and one of the group’s warranty experts. “It’s such a cut-throat industry.”

Bill Lawrence, the gas-heater, heat pump and lighting guy, admits this is an unusual relationship in such a competitive market.

“I’ve had supply houses taken aback by this because we discuss everything, even the cost of goods, because we’re looking out for one another,” says Lawrence, owner of Tech Services of Tampa.

One requirement of the Tampa Group — in addition to all-around excellence — is that you must have your papers.

Says Lawrence: “We’re all licensed and insured. We’re all equals in this.”