Maybe it’s the start of my 29th year in business that has me feeling nostalgic? It also could be the fact that I celebrate a milestone birthday in 2020. (Can you guess which milestone?) Regardless, I’m feeling reflective today.
Growing up in the 1980s, I remember consuming every water garden and koi book I could find at the library. Who else is an old fart like me and remembers the days of card catalogs and the Dewey Decimal System?!? Anyway, I went from hanging on every word I read to questioning much of the conventional wisdom of the day. Statements like, “you need to have six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day to successfully grow water lilies,” (my pond didn’t and still had plenty of blooms) or, “a pond needs to be three, four or even five feet deep to have the fish survive the winter in cold climates,” had me bewildered. Ummm – was it only MY koi that could survive countless winters living in a 24-inch deep pond that’s located in Chicago of all places?!?
The more my hobbyist knowledge grew the more I questioned the “experts” who wrote those books. By the time I started college I had seven years’ experience making what seemed to be every mistake possible in my backyard classroom! Undaunted, I jury-rigged my own filters, replaced cracked concrete with a liner, added gravel over the whole base to increase the bio load capacity of the pond, and (for the first time ever) had clean clear water and healthy fish!
In 1991, after my junior year of college, I decided to apply my “school of hard knocks” knowledge and launched Aquascape as a fun summertime job that I’d hopefully be able to make some money with.
That first summer working for myself (with a few guys from my high school football team helping out) was not only fun but amazingly I was able to install five water features that brought $21,000 in sales in only three months!!!
The next year, the Chicago Tribune published a feature story on me and my business exploded! My dad came in to help me, I promoted a high school classmate of mine to foreman, and even hired a secretary to handle the administrative duties! What started out as a way to have fun and make some money in the summer had now become not only my profession, but also a job for my family and friends!
Today, entering our 29th season, Aquascape employs 130 TEAMmates and manufactures a complete line of water gardening products that have been sold to well over 100,000 contractors who have installed millions of Aquascape ecosystem ponds across North America and throughout the world! And we’re the ONLY manufacturer of water gardening products with a full-service construction division that actually designs, builds, and maintains water features each and every year!
It’s been quite the ride and continues to be so. Of course, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, but nothing worth doing ever is! Best of all, I’m the rare blessed man who is as excited to get up and get to work today as I was 29 years ago when I started doing what I do!
“I ❤️ MY JOB!”
Watch the Aquascape 25-Year Anniversary video: