Last fall, after careful consideration, AQUA decided to lower the curtain on the AQUA 100 program and put in its place an annual State of the Industry issue, which we think will better serve a broader portion of the industry. It debuts next month.

Before we say goodbye, though, we'd like to thank the thousands of companies that entered over the years. Each entry provided us with valuable insight into the workings of successful spa and pool builders, retailers and service professionals, and special knowledge was gleaned from the select group of winners each year. In many cases, the owners and executives of those companies have become friends and allies whose opinions and expertise we seek often. And that's something we don't plan on ending.

This year we induct six new companies into the AQUA 100 Hall of Fame, which recognizes companies who've been honored five consecutive years or eight overall. And although that select group will no longer grow, we will continue to seek the advice and input from the companies that make it up. In a way, they'll be our eyes and ears, our advisory board, and you'll continue to see their names in the magazine addressing a range of issues.

All told, more than 500 companies made the list at least once, with 48 of the 50 states represented (West Virginia and Wyoming are the exceptions). The companies ranged in size from $100,000 in gross revenues to over $20 million; from venerable old retailers and builders to upstart service companies. As different as they were, they shared the same commitment to customer service, product knowledge, design and overall professionalism, qualities that can be hard to explain, but are easy to recognize.

So a very special thank-you to the judges who pored over entry packets each year, and an even bigger one to the people who put them together.