When there's talk of leaders in aquatic safety, Jeff Ellis’ name always comes up. The founder of Oconee, Fla.-based Ellis & Associates (and its pool management firm, Jeff Ellis Management) is responsible for groundbreaking work in lifeguard training, particularly for waterparks.

This highly respected aquatic safety and facility management firm did get some negative publicity in 2012 after firing a Florida lifeguard who left his beach post to save a struggling swimmer in another area. (Ellis later apologized and offered the guard his job back.)

But that one incident can’t overshadow the work of Ellis and his firm, which is also known for developing effective training programs; providing site-specific education; and delivering the accountability that comes with the firm’s unscheduled inspections of aquatic areas it manages.