From building backyard ponds to house his pet turtles to building ponds to make money over the summer, Greg Wittstock, aka The Pond Guy, has been dabbling in water gardens since the age of 12. He began with a concrete creation and evolved to the ecosystem ponds that Aquascape is well known for. Now that you know how Wittstock's love of ponds began, here's how Aquascape, Inc. has grown and evolved into what it is today.
After experimenting with ponds for over eight years, Wittstock finally had a "light bulb" moment during a drive home from the boring summer job he took during college in 1990. He decided that he wanted to do something he loved for a living ... he wanted to build ponds. Merely 30 second later, he had a company name, Aquascape. The next year, he began building ponds during his breaks in the school year.
The real birth of Aquascape came in 1992, when Wittstock, with 17 ponds under his belt, got a call from a freelance reporter working with the Chicago Tribune. A letter, business card, and photographs sent by Wittstock the year before had paid off and an article was run about Aquascape in the Tempo section. The result of the article was hundreds of phone calls and 82 pond sales.
From there, Wittstock got involved in many a business venture. While at school, he used architecture students as interns, earning credit hours and resulting in cheap labor. He finished his degree in Interpersonal Communications at The Ohio State University and was soon entertained by the idea of franchising his business. After several attempts to work out a deal, Wittstock decided that it wasn't going to pan out and went to work on growing his own business and hiring more employees.
Business was booming and Wittstock decided to begin mailing out catalogs to prospective customers, buying a list of 26,000 names to start out. Soon, Wittstock was leaving the building of ponds to his employees and concentrating on the front office work. More catalogs were being mailed out each year and sales were steadily increasing. Next thing he knew, Wittstock was out on the road, educating contractors about the great profit margins and satisfaction that went with water gardening.
Franchising may not have worked for Wittstock, but signing on a group of Distributors was turning Aquascape into a company with many different locations to buy product from. Distributors became the local pond dealer, selling to contractors as a mini-Aquascape, without all the franchise fees. Seminar tours continued, with Distributors beginning to lend a hand and before Wittstock knew it, his Distributors comprised much of the business ... a great future was ahead! In 2002, the Certified Aquascape Contractor program was formed, providing marketing opportunities to the best of the best contractors and connecting them with potential pond owners.
In 2003, Aquascape took the plunge into retailing by purchasing Water Creations, changing all of the retail branding to the NurseryPro name. Now the ecosystem pond would be available to do-it-yourselfers, thus bringing a whole new customer base on board.
The Water Garden Excellence Program was created in 2005, teaming up contractors and retailers to train and educate each other and their customers about water gardens. The program includes marketing materials and seminars that aid the contractors and retailers in promoting water gardening and educating potential and current pond owners. The program caught on and has proved successful for everyone involved.
At the end of 2005, Wittstock's dream of a workplace utopia came true as the company moved to Aqualand. Aqualand is a 256,000 square foot office and warehouse facility that boasts the largest sloping green roof in North America. From the modest beginnings of $48,000 in pond sales in 1992 to over $55 million in 2005, Aquascape and The Pond Guy have come a long way!
And Aquascape just keeps on growing! In early 2006, Aquascape purchased PondSweep Manufacturing, a company owned by Greg's father, Gary. The addition of PondSweep has encouraged growth of Aquascape's piece of the water gardening pie.
2007 began with a name change and rebranding for Aquascape as a new logo was set into play and the company name officially changed from Aquascape Designs, Inc. to Aquascape, Inc.
In 2008, the sluggish economy and housing market prompted The Pond Guy to advance the roll-out of Aquascape's rainwater harvest storage system. Prototypes were installed in the spring and are currently being monitored for efficiency. The official launch of this product line is November 2008 at the Irrigation Association show.
2008 also ushered in new water features at Aqualand, including Aquascape's signature pond - or "World's Most Extreme Pond" - gracing the front of corporate headquarters and the AquaGardens located at the west end for public viewing of a variety of captivating water features. The signature pond was a product of The World's Most Extreme Pond Build event, when hundreds of contractors, distributors, and retailers descended upon Aqualand to participate in this one-of-a-kind advanced pond build.