If you had to come up with one word to describe Pleatco’s Perfect Pool Guy and Gal this year, it would have to be “helpful.” The honorees, Gil Serrano and Jennifer Angevine, both said what they like most about being service technicians is being able to help people.

They’re definitely in the right profession.

Their dedication was honored at the recent International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las Vegas, where filter cartridge manufacturer Pleatco, LLC, announced the winners at a special ceremony. More than 200 techs entered the competition, which recognizes service professionals for their quality of service and positive representation of the industry.

“Over the four years Pleatco has sponsored this contest, we’ve learned that being a professional pool or spa service technician is more than a job — it’s a passion,” said John Antretter, COO of the Glen Cove, N.Y.-based firm, in a statement. “Homeowners trust their service professionals to keep their ‘backyard oasis’ safe. ... Essentially, the Perfect Pool Guy and Gal are the unsung heroes of the neighborhood.”

Though they’re too modest to claim that title, the 2011 winners have made their marks in their respective communities.

“Whatever I do, I like to do the best I can,” Perfect Pool Guy Gil Serrano said. “My passion is to help people.” A former shoe and sportswear salesman, he said he wanted to try a different line of work with better hours. So he landed at Bay Area Pool Service in Tampa, Fla., and has been there 14 years, working his way up from pool cleaner to general manager. Besides training his service techs in industry best practices, Serrano also enjoys going out on the route.

Because he uses his expertise —  and senses — to diagnose and heal ailing pools, he’s known locally as the “pool whisperer.” As Serrano said, “I enter a backyard and do a walk-around of the pool, listen to the equipment, look at the water.” He paused, then added, “Open your eyes; pools can speak to you.”

Farther up the coast in Glen Cove, N.Y., Perfect Pool Gal Jennifer Angevine has been hanging around pools since she was old enough to go with her father on service calls. For nearly a decade, she has owned Gold Coast Swimming Pools, a 43-year-old building/service firm.

But even though she now heads the company, Angevine loves to go out in the field, servicing, maintaining and restoring pools. “I like helping people — clients and our staff — teaching them about the industry, safety and improving their backyards,” she said.

She makes a point of giving customers her personal attention, and can reel off names, addresses, pool type, and current and possible future issues for each one. And Angevine never leaves a project unless she has done everything possible to totally satisfy the customer — and her company continues to grow every year as a result.

Indeed, she is known for going above and beyond the call of duty for customers and her team every day. This year’s winners each received a trip for two to the Las Vegas Expo, Pleatco products and other gifts worth $2,000+, and a Genesis 3 Design Group Certified Service Professional Program, valued at more than $5,000.