Steve Pham

We celebrate a milestone in this issue. That’s right, Top 50 Builders has reached its 20th anniversary!

From its inception, the purpose of this program has always been to highlight exceptional pool and spa builders. This was especially important during a time when the mainstream media mostly only reported on the bad eggs, the ones who took homeowners’ money and left holes in the ground, blackening the industry’s reputation. The Top 50 Builders program helps put a shine back on the industry.

To that end, it’s been very successful. While the program was originally based mostly on revenue, it now considers that along with four other criteria — staff management/training, industry involvement, web presence and community involvement — to determine a company’s rank on the list. This has helped create a more balanced and robust definition of what we consider a “top” builder to be.

Thus far, this definition has served us well, and many builders seek a place on the list. The program grows more and more each year, attracting hundreds of submissions across North America. To be sure, we require a lot of information from applicants — our submission form is, admittedly, a time-consuming one. It’s why we usually set the submission period to 4-6 weeks, so builders have the time to respond thoughtfully. Every bit of information provided helps our judging process.

But back to this year’s package! A few interesting things to note: We’ve included a series of graphs called “A Look Back” to show how much the industry has changed in just the last five years. We know, of course, that the pandemic-driven demand for pools has been unprecedented but it’s really fascinating to see the insane amount of growth laid out so clearly.

Another notable difference this year pertains to the lists where we call out the companies that scored highly in a single category. Instead of simply listing the company names as we’ve done in the past, we share highlights of why those builders performed well.

Oh, and there’s one builder in particular that deserves a special call out — Fort Worth, Texas-based Pulliam Pools. It’s the only firm that’s made the Top 50 Builders list for all 20 years, and for that distinction we have chosen to profile Debra Smith, Pulliam’s leader during their time in our program. Congratulations, Debra and Pulliam Pools!

Lastly, a huge shout out to two people who’ve made this issue possible. First, thank you to our tireless deputy editor, Rebecca Robledo. Her journalistic expertise, unflagging enthusiasm and love for the industry are a joy to behold. This program would not be the success it is today without her! And lastly, kudos to our new graphic designer, Melissa Krochmal. Designing Top 50 is a special baptism by fire, and her work is so appreciated.