In March 2021, I was in a bad car accident and became paralyzed. I’m currently a quadriplegic and use a wheelchair. Despite the accident, I had a job that needed to be finished, and my crew of two was too small and inexperienced to handle it by themselves. Fortunately, my friends from around the pond construction world all came together and made it happen. It couldn’t have happened without the planning and expertise of my dear friend Jason Lenox of Ponds Inc.
The build was a simple: a pond sized 30 by 24 feet and 4 feet deep with a bog filter and intake bay. We also designed a 20-foot stream with a 10-by-15 bog filter.
When people started to arrive, the pond was full of water, and areas had collapsed from the dig. It was a little bit tough to get the pond back into shape. We needed to add some bottom surface drains to collect the ground water. We put a 4-inch flexible drainpipe underneath the surface of the dirt below the liner and ran it up to the side, so whatever surface water that got in would push itself out the top. We had to install those and also check the grade to make sure that everything was going to fit correctly.
Landon Malave of LCM Landscape and Design in Colorado was the first person to show up early on Friday. He got out there with my two guys and started shaping the pond and getting those drains in. The rain was also a challenge, especially considering the time constraint we were faced with.
The weather was nice on Saturday, and the rest of the guys had arrived and were all ready to go. To start the day, Jill Camp said a prayer that everything would go smoothly, and then Lenox, the coordinator, orchestrator and lead builder, went over the plan with everyone.
The first thing they needed to tackle was reshaping the pond and completing the surface drains. John Magyar of Universal Aquatics in Georgia and Malave completed the digging, and everybody got together to install the liner. The liner installation went smoothly, and we were ready to rock it in.
Gerard Touhey from Water Features by Gerard in Pennsylvania began stacking flat rocks, building some walls and foaming the rocks in place. Benjamin Timmermans from Liquid Landscapes Inc. in North Carolina and Magyar worked the mini excavators and strapped 50 tons of rocks into the pond at Lenox’s direction. Lenox made sure each rock followed the design I had created months before.
The pond has a flagstone bottom with pea gravel between the gaps, making it smooth on your feet. We had about two tons of flagstone to lay on the bottom of the pond, and it seemed like everyone was helping out. The steps going into the pond were done by Magyar and Jeff Krenner from Paradise Ponds and Waterfalls in Georgia. They were really instrumental in getting those steps in just right by adding a little curve and making the height even as you walk in. They did a great job on that.
I arrived late to the job on Saturday. It was difficult to get going due to my wheelchair. Larry Moore Jr. was a huge help in assisting wy wife Amy and me (and not to mention working hard on building the intake bay and moving rocks). It seemed that Tim Camp was always busy on my PowerTrac (the “little green machine”), assisting in moving boulders, rocks, gravel and whatever else needed to be moved into place.
Billy Franklin and Mikie Hunter from Bedrock Nursery in Oklahoma were also there to help. Mikie was always manning a shovel and assisted in placing the rocks. Allen Chadic from Repond in Oklahoma was always in the pond, ready to assist in any way. While their husbands were out on the job site, Jill Camp and Ginger Chadic made sure everybody had plenty of water and food and that everything ran as smoothly as possible behind the scenes. Amy had her hands full just helping me figure out how all of this was going to work, so she was happy to have the help.
Sunday came and, of course, it was raining. Welcome to Alabama! Regardless of the rain, everybody showed up ready to go and worked hard to get the last of the rocks set. By the time I got there, I was able to sit under the tent and watch a good amount of the work get done. I was amazed at the amount of dedication I saw before me.
The guys worked on laying the 3-inch pipe from the external pump to the bog area. They also split it and put in a valve to have the water flow over a rock and create another waterfall. They also added a jet on the far-left side to push water to the intake bay.
As the day wrapped up, the number of workers started to dwindle, as some of them had to catch flights out of town. The guys who really stood out and stayed in the rain were Tim Camp, Benjamin Timmermans, Larry Moore Jr., John Magyar, David Shaw, Allen Chadic, Landon Malave, Billy Franklin and Mikie Hunter. (I apologize if I did not remember everyone’s names. I was pretty overwhelmed by everyone showing up and offering their support!)
By the end of Sunday, the job was basically 95% done. The bog consisted of a self-made centipede and Aquascape snorkel. There were approximately 25 large AquaBlox used and another snorkel for the intake bay. We used 3-inch pipe and a Sequence external 13,000-gph pump. We also installed a jet and flagstone steps going down to the bottom. We used 50 tons of mixed boulders and 10 tons of pea gravel and river rock. If my two guys and I were to do this job ourselves, it would have taken us over a month. It took about two weeks for my guys to wrap up the small details after the weekend was over.
They say there is a silver lining to be found in every bad situation. My silver lining is two people: my wife Amy and Jerome Fischer. Fischer saw a social media post of mine that said I was afraid I would lose my business now that I am in a wheelchair. He and I came up with a plan to become business partners and grow the business. Fischer’s passion and love of the pond business will help my company move ahead smoothly into the future. I am thankful to have Fischer as my business partner and a part of my life in general. Our sales have been great, and we’re booked up to the end of the year. I was surprised it could happen with me in a wheelchair!
I’d like to thank everybody in the pond industry for thinking of me and my family and for helping us as a company go through what was probably the hardest time of my entire life. I just can’t thank everybody enough.
I don’t want this industry to forget that we’re one big family, whether you use one product or another. We all live for the same passion and share the same love in our hearts. When one of us goes down, it’s up to the rest of us to pick them up. In my case, you all made me believe that people out there really are, in fact, good.