“When we turn it on, it leaks inside the building over here.” I was greeted by the manager of the Bass Pro Shops store in Hampton, Virginia. We were taking a tally of the issues with their existing water feature in front of the store. As he pointed out all the problems, he asked if it was repairable with a slight chuckle. We both knew the answer. The waterfalls were inoperable and the few areas of the feature that were holding water were only 8-12-inches deep. Liner was exposed throughout the pond, with wires from old lights and pumps strewn everywhere. It was time to rebuild.
It took me about 11 months from the first conversation with the manager to be awarded the contract. The process was tedious and I found it difficult to navigate the corporate structure and halls of Bass Pro Shops. Everyone involved knew the rebuild needed to happen. We knew they had the funds but getting in front of the right person presented a challenge. Other local contractors told me that they talked about repairing or rebuilding the feature for 5+ years. Most proposals had been lost somewhere in the halls or inboxes of corporate management.
A creative approach sells the commercial pond demolition and rebuild
I was about to give up after about 10 months of chasing the agreement with multiple revisions. Then it hit me, they can’t see what I see. Almost as quick as it hit me, I recorded a private YouTube video and sent it along with the latest revision of the agreement. The video showed the terrible state of the current water feature and the negative impact for their brand. Believe it or not, the approach worked! Within a couple days of sending the last draft, I heard from Bass Pro Shops that a P.O. would soon be cut and to get ready to start construction.
So I did.
Inside of three weeks, we started on the demo of the existing water feature. This fairly large system consisted of two 30-foot long ponds, a bog, and a few waterfalls. During demo, we quickly discovered it wasn’t simply a liner pond, it was a concrete pond. This wasn’t something I expected or found in the initial consult. Thankfully, I quickly received a green light to move forward, but we needed to pivot from the original demolition plan.
Pond Demo Night
A larger piece of equipment was needed to remove the concrete and move the 10,000-pound boulders. Also, we anticipated making a big mess, so we scheduled the demolition as an evening job.
We set up with three dump trucks and a 30,000-pound excavator for the night. Hauling from the moment the Bass Pro Shop closed, we worked from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and finished cleaning up right as the sun came up.
With demo out of the way, we took inventory of the boulders left on site and ordered a couple more truckloads to supplement. Inside of a week, new boulders from the western part of Virginia and all the materials were lined up.
Now, construction could begin. We started excavating and shaping the area for the new pond. The old pond design featured two ponds connected by a short stream. The top pond was fed by a large bog system. Bass Pro Shops approved a much smaller system in its place: a 28-foot long pond with two decent-sized waterfalls. We installed two skimmers and two biofalls on the system.
Construction went smoothly considering how much effort the demo process required. The only real issue was a huge boulder, estimated to weigh 25,000 pounds. Even with the Cat 313 excavator, we couldn’t move it. We decided to bury it in the mud and the large hole of the old pond. In the end, it actually looked pretty good!
I think our favorite part of the build was interacting with the morning crowd lining up in front of the store. They were there to see if Bass Pro Shops had ammo in stock and wanted to get first dibs. While waiting, they made small talk with us and we made a few fans.
Another highlight of the pond build was Joe’s stump. While looking for some driftwood, I met a widow whose husband loved Bass Pro Shops. He was a veteran of the Korean War and we were able to honor him in the build. Enjoy the full story on the video below.