Last year, I read a story in The Boston Globe called “Keeping Score Isn’t the Goal — Or Is It?” The article detailed a trend in youth sports to deemphasize the score in order to spare the feelings of the losing team. But even without an official tally, kids would often shout, “It’s 3 to nothing!” or brag at the end of the game, “We won 5 to 2!”

Innate in our psyche, from early on, is the need to dominate the opposition and be the best that we can be. This desire has driven the economy from the beginning of time and resists all attempts to diminish the value of winning.

Six years ago, the editorial department of Pool & Spa News discussed the idea of keeping score for the pool industry. A heated debate ensued, not only about whether there was a need to denote the winners, but also the question of just how do you keep score?

Some argued that the companies that build the most pools should win. Others debated that those with the highest revenue were the clear winners. Another contingent passionately put forth that artistic design and/or customer service should be considered.

This caused a dilemma. All points of view seemed valid, but it wouldn’t be feasible to incorporate every possible measurement. In the end, we decided to launch two unique theme issues that recognize different ways that the industry keeps score.

Thus we created the Top 50 Builders and the Masters of Design. In these two exceptional issues of Pool & Spa News, we take stock of an industry and look at the various ways that people succeed in the pool and spa market.

And so, in this issue, we celebrate the companies with the highest revenue. These firms account for more than 20,000 digs per year and bring the dream of pool ownership to the largest number of Americans. They are the backbone of our industry.

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On another note, congratulations to Tim Monks of Monks Bros. Swimming Pools in Marion, Ind. Tim was picked from a “hat” from the dozens of readers who found the hidden cat on page 121 in our Masters of Design issue.