The GAVA Awards, 2011…
If you’ve never entered, it’s time!

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

I was heart-broken a few weeks ago when I read Mike Farley’s article in the March issue of WaterShapes Magazine. Mike is a brilliant designer, and he writes interesting articles and book reviews for the magazine. This time, he happened to write about the GAVA Awards book, “International Award-Winning Pools, Spas, & Water Environments.” Since I’m actively involved in GAVA, the unmistakable cover photo instantly caught my eye.

GAVA Awards book cover (small).jpg

I loved Mike’s premise, that it’s the job of each and every one of us in the industry to help “Sell the Dream.”  He acknowledges Vance Gillette’s tireless crusade (which you’ve no doubt seen a time or two) as a great example to follow.  He also mentions the above-named GAVA book, along with “Scott Cohen’s Poolscapes: Refreshing Ideas for the Backyard Resort.

So why my heartbreak? Mike was kind, flattering and accurate in his coverage of the GAVA book. Yes, it really is “a 176-page, beautifully illustrated book that records the results of the annual GAVA awards program.” And yes, the program was indeed founded by Joe Vassallo, Virginia Martino and Mary Vail of 3V enterprises.

It was Mike’s observation that “Clearly, it’s a collection of projects that were drawn mainly from a network of builders associated with Joe and his company, Paragon Pools.


The hurt is not because Mike was wrong.  The hurt is because the evidence suggests that Mike may actually be RIGHT.  To the casual outside observer, it DOES sort of look like a “Friends of Joe” awards program.

I can assure you, it’s NOT. In fact, I think the greatest virtue of the GAVA Awards program is the “DON’T” aspect:

  • You DON’T have to be a member of APSP, SPASA, Carecraft, Aquatech or the BBB.
  • You DON’T have to be a graduate of Genesis 3.
  • You DON’T have to live in the United States.
  • You DON’T have to be a builder.
  • You DON’T have to pay an entry fee (if you’re a charity).
  • And you DON’T have to be a friend of Joe. (Even though he’s a very likable guy.)

If it looks to the casual observer like the winners are just a bunch of friends of Joe, then that tells me we ain’t gettin’ the word out.

So here’s the word: Get off your butt, and submit some of your projects to the GAVA awards program already. The judging process is the fairest that I’ve ever seen (it’s judged by people outside our industry), and the projects submitted are highly creative and international, which means  WINNING it is a major feather in your cap.

And you must admit, the award trophy is one of the coolest around.

GAVA GOLD award2.jpg

So go ahead and take a couple of your best, most creative projects, and enter them in the contest. Do it before April 15, and you’ll save a few bucks. You’ll find the on-line entry forms right here.

To your success,



PS – The experts at 3V Enterprises tell me that if you don’t yet have “the perfect photos” for your project, you can still submit your entry NOW with the drawings, and send the primo photos later in the year. (I guess it really DOES help to be a friend of Joe!)

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