By Demi Fortuna and Caitlyn Winkle
On Sep. 14, 2022, contractors, distributors and pond industry professionals reunited for the sixth annual Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference, face-to-face once again. The conference also offered participants a good measure of recreation and networking.
Medal Play and Pond Ed
The event began with the shotgun start of the Golf Outing Scramble at Gleneagles Golf Club. After the spirited four-person, scramble-style event, teams met up with the rest of the attendees at a meet-and-greet at the hotel before heading to dinner at Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern.
During the outdoor cocktail hour, Jeff Weemhoff, president of Atlantic-OASE, announced the winning first and second-place teams before presenting the APC awards, which are given to individuals or companies both for their work in the field and their contributions to the industry. The Presidential Award recognized George Mihalchick and Susan Perpetua of Ponds by George, Southampton, Pennsylvania.
Next up, Lloyd Lightsey the Pond Monster, the first recipient of the Monster Award, which recognizes those who go consistently go above and beyond, presented the fourth Monster Award to Dan Johanson and Melissa Devine of Focal Point Features, Austin, Texas.
Weemhoff then presented the third and final APC award of the evening, the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor of the Year. This year’s APCY recipient is a local contractor from Twinsburg, Ohio, Mike Bulone of Bulone Brothers Landscaping, who was honored both for his extraordinary vision and execution of his large and impressive water features.
After cocktails and ceremonies, the group moved inside to enjoy a great dinner while networking with new and old friends and colleagues before a full day of water feature training on Thursday.
After breakfast and company announcements from Jeff Weemhoff at the hotel, participants separated into groups for morning class sessions. Half of the attendees boarded a shuttle to Atlantic-OASE headquarters, while the rest remained at the hotel to choose any four courses among the following: Pond & Lake Management, Water Feature Sales Add-ons, PondoVac Hacks, How to Get Business Leads, Clear Water Guarantee Pond System and Introduction to Indoor Aquatics & biOrbs.
Sean Bell, Atlantic-OASE’s southeast regional sales manager, hosted a Demystifying the Clear Water Pond System class, combining old and new techniques and equipment to keep ponds cleaner and clearer than ever thought possible. Kyle Weemhoff, southwest regional sales manager, presented Diving Into Pond and Lake Management, discussing treatments, aeration and management of large ponds and lakes. Jay Weemhoff, northeast regional sales manager, led Add-ons to Your Water Feature Sales, presenting all the different add-ons to new and existing water feature projects Atlantic-OASE has to offer. Peter Ferber, customer service and tech support, and Gary Miller, quality control, hosted PondoVac Hacks, Tips and Tricks, loaded with helpful advice on OASE PondoVacs. Adam Raabe, OASE aquatics category manager, gave us a look into OASE’s biOrb and Indoor Aquatics aquariums with his Bringing Water Indoors: Intro to Indoor Aquatics class. And lastly, B.J. Linger and Motel McCready from Outdoor Network Services advised attendees How to Get Consistent Leads for Your Pond Business.
A short bus ride away, three class sessions were held at Atlantic-OASE headquarters in each of the morning and afternoon class blocks. These included closer looks at the new products of 2022 and a first look at what’s new for 2023, hosted by Brandon Dwyer, VP product development, and James Lavery, national sales manager, in the Atlantic-OASE Training Room.
Explore the SandBox was a first chance for many to see the hands-on SandBox training facility. Hosted by Jim Chubb, training manager, and Demi Fortuna, director of product information, the session showcased systems and products in action, from fountains, formal spillways and water entertainment, to pond-free and water garden displays, including the new, compact Eco-Rise system, aura vases and bowls in hand-hammered brass. The trainers also announced the fall-winter training schedule, with beginner and intermediate classes in the SandBox. The final session at headquarters was Digitally Connecting to Your Water Features with OASE EGC Products, taught by Todd Rosendahl, northwest regional sales manager.
A Face-to-Face Feat
After classes Thursday afternoon, two luxury buses carried attendees to Cleveland for dinner at Collision Bend Brewery on the Cuyahoga River to close out the conference. Attendees posted numerous positive reviews, citing the depth and wealth of the information, as well as great appreciation for tips, tricks and the opportunity to engage with colleagues and trainers in person once again.