If this year’s Top 50 Builders list is any indication, the construction and renovation sides of the industry seem to be progressing in a new direction.

As builders emerged from a difficult 2009 into a tough 2010, many discovered that the survival of their businesses depended on adapting to market trends with unprecedented agility. And some who paid careful attention to consumer behavior watched their profits bloom over the past year.

For evidence of this new growth, look no further than the lower third of the Pool & Spa News Top 50 Builders chart, where ranking shake-ups abound. Though 2008 brought its share of new contenders to the list, the past year marks a sharp increase in Top 50 debuts in comparison to 2009.

The revenue for many of these newcomers also exceeds early-recession levels: Several have leaped onto the chart with residential construction revenue in the $5 million range, a notable increase from the $3 and $4 million showings that dominated the 2009 chart’s lower reaches.

Meanwhile, average pool prices for some of the higher-ranked builders have dropped from 2008 and 2009. Some of this change reflects the recession’s bidding wars, but it also speaks for the payoffs of staying adaptable.

One ongoing trend was the persistent growth of renovation revenue accounting for 13.2 percent of the Top 50’s combined revenue, up even from 2009’s remarkable 10.3 percent. All these trends demonstrate that even in times like these, the industry continues testing new ideas. And this creativity is poised to usher in exciting changes for pool professionals of all stripes.