My Mentors!

After reading what our foreman Chris wrote about his experience working with one of our Certified Aquascape Contractors, I figured it easily qualified for “my” blog. Hope you enjoy Chris Hanson’s observations!

My Mentors

“Some of you may know me but, many of you don’t yet as I’m the newest team member of the Aquascape construction crew. I graduated with a horticulture degree and have been working for the last decade or so in the landscape industry. I love working, playing and just plain being outside–which is why I choose this profession.

Working in the landscaping field, I’ve never been a stranger to hard work and physical labor. However, I’ve never worked as hard at anything than when I did my first pond with Aquascape! I mean, the guys absolutely cooked me right out of the gate! But despite how hard it was, I was absolutely hooked! I love the creativity that comes with building water features and the satisfaction behind creating a functioning ecosystem that helps the environment. I have to say in all my years in the landscape profession, very few things I’ve created have rivaled the kind of reactions pond owners have when you turn on their waterfalls for the first time! It gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment. However, it’s not my pond building experiences I want to talk about today.

As many know, we are now in the middle of filming a reality series featuring what we do at Aquascape. I’ve landed a supporting role in it as “the prospect” that the old hats get to teach (how fun is that?!). Since filming has started, I’ve gotten to build some of the most incredible water features on the planet… for people who TRULY deserve the world in their back yard.

The coolest thing though, besides traveling to awesome places and being part of the show, is I get to be doing all of this with THE Greg, Ed and Brian. Those three are truly the best in the world at what they do! (And I’m not just saying that because they’re my bosses.) Not only am I doing something I’ve grown to love, in cool locales, but I get to do it with people who love it too. However, just as awesome as working alongside those three, I also get to meet some pretty cool people along the way that have the same passion.

Recently we were doing a job in beautiful Wrightwood, CA. We were brought to help out Bernie Kerkvliet and his crew from Skyline Ponds. Bernie is a 6’5″, soft-spoken, gentle giant of a man and a long-time Certified Aquascape Contractor. It was truly an honor to meet and work alongside him creating a large water feature with his crew. I learned so much from Bernie. He taught me how to operate his various machines (which are totally different than what we’re used to). We both have degrees in horticulture and we connected over his encyclopedia knowledge regarding local plants and their effective and practical uses. I learned some fascinating uses for some cool exotic plants. And it goes without mention that he taught me a thing or two from his years of pond building experience.

But, by far, the thing I took away most from my time with Bernie was not what he said or even what he did. Rather it was who he is. He made an incredible impression on me when I realized his real passion in life is his family. As a new father who’s about to be a daddy again, I’m in a pretty impressionable state of mind. His love and passion for his job is one thing, but how he feels about his family is another. You can feel the love in his voice or see it in his eyes when he speaks of his wife and four adult children. The bonds that Bernie shares with his children would make any father envious. I truly respect what he’s created and desire to strive for the same thing with my own family.

I’ve struggled in my growing career to manage a successful work/life balance. But this experience has led me to the realization that it’s not only Greg, Brian, and Ed that I can learn from. There are incredible people associated with Aquascape all over the country and I can’t wait to meet them! My experience with Bernie crystallized for me why the organization values the CAC network so highly. It also cemented for me another one of The Pond Guy’s favorite quotes, “When the student was ready the teacher arrived.” Thank you “Big Bernie” for your real life example of what a family man truly is. I’m going strive to follow your lead.”