All In The Family - Father and son team up at Aquascape Designs.

It's the first sunny warm day of late winter as I write; the first day when you can smell the earth thawing. Although I know we in the upper Midwest still can (and most likely will) get walloped with plenty of snow, ice and cold weather, I'm allowing myself to think of spring.

Spring conjures up concepts like "new," and "fresh," and "energetic," and I think of things growing and full of promise. Those themes all apply to this issue of AQUA.

It's our annual pleasure to welcome a new crop of AQUA 100 honorees and AQUA 100 Hall-of-Famers. The AQUA 100 recognition program has, for 15 years, honored companies that are deemed by a panel of their peers to best personify the highest standards of professionalism in the spa and pool business. These are the companies that raise the bar for our industry and in so doing, make us all want to work a little harder and set our sights a little higher.

Five companies — Ocean Spray Pools and Spas, Paragon Pools, Roberts Pool and Spa, Sandcreek Pools and Wolter Pool Co. — are making their first appearance in the AQUA 100, while another 24 with multiple appearances are well on their way to Hall of Fame status. And we also welcome 11 businesses into the AQUA 100 Hall of Fame. These are outstanding companies that have earned AQUA 100 status in five consecutive years or eight times overall.

It's not just interesting to read about these high achievers; we can all learn from them. Managing Editor Barrett Kilmer, who manages the AQUA 100 program, has collected facts and figures about the group and written company profiles that are full of trends and ideas you may find useful in your own business.

And there's one more new person to welcome to the AQUA family: David Cohn of David Cohn & Associates in Denver will join us to write a family business column beginning with this issue. Cohn is a succession planner who started advising family- and closely held businesses 10 years ago after gaining 25 years of real-life experience running his family's store.

Welcome to you all.

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