Andy Blake was known for his innovations -- and the pool and spa industry is the better for it. On Jan. 3, the manufacturing operations officer at A&A Manufacturing, a Shasta Pools & Spas division, died of natural causes. He was 78.

Blake joined Phoenix-based Shasta Pools & Spas in 1974. In the early days, he was general manager of operations for all divisions and led the launch of the company’s service and repair, remodeling, retail and manufacturing operations.

“He was the most organized man I’ve ever met, very disciplined, and when he made a commitment, it got done,” recalled Rick Mortensen, executive director, customer services at Shasta. He said Blake had a desire to constantly improve and was very innovative. Mortensen was hired by Blake in 1982 to head Shasta’s construction divisions, and they worked together 16 years. “He was one of the best managers I’ve ever worked for,” Mortensen said. “He literally put Shasta on the map with all these divisions.”

Before joining the pool building/retail/service company, Blake was in the Air Force, followed by a stint in the computer industry. But most of his career was at Shasta. In 1982, he started A&A Manufacturing, and that’s when the innovations really began to flow. Blake is credited with 14 patents and three more pending.

“He was a remarkable man in the industry. The products he developed helped many,” said Rollin Adams, owner of Nautica Pools in Gilbert, Ariz. He ticked off examples: Blake’s venturi skimmer and head, channel drains, and in-floor cleaning systems. “... He invented good stuff. A lot of my success is due to Andy’s technology,” Adams said.

As dedicated to his career as Blake was, he also found time for other interests, such as tinkering with cars, woodworking, and spending time with family.

Blake is survived by his wife of 57 years, Bonnie; daughters Brenda Blake, Karen Blake and Becky Grand; six grandchildren, Brandon Gorski, Chris Gorski, Paul Grand, Blake Grand, Andreya Blake and Lexi Grand; and great-granddaughters Tatum and Madison Gorski. His parents and two brothers are deceased.