Hundreds of contractors, retailers and distributors ventured to the headquarters of Aquascape Inc., from Aug. 23-27 to attend Pondemonium, the water feature industry’s largest training and networking event. The theme, “A Purpose-Driven Business,” was chosen to address a variety of situations that business owners and employees face when installing and selling Aquascape ponds, waterfalls and fountains.
The event kicked off Wednesday with a pre-Pondemonium Leadership Boot Camp designed for business owners and managers. Running concurrently was a DiSC Leadership Workshop for anyone interested in learning how to deal with different personality-based leadership traits. Each participant was given an in-depth personality assessment.
Thursday was all about getting your hands dirty with two separate hands-on learning sessions: a large recreational pond build for Certified Aquascape Contractors and hands-on training for foremen and those new to water-feature installation. A touring trip to Chicago was a third option for those who wanted to keep their hands clean and do a little sightseeing in the Windy City.
Early-morning “Cup of Coffee” sessions started the day on both Friday and Saturday. These roundtable discussions featured a variety of topics that were led by industry experts from around the world. Topics included water-feature construction, marketing techniques, human resource practices, accounting principles and more. Many sessions were moderated by Certified Aquascape Contractors who are experts in their featured topic area.
After the roundtable discussions ended, Greg Wittstock, the owner and CEO of Aquascape, gave his inspiring annual Pondemonium keynote address to a packed room of attendees who were ready to take their business and installation skills to the next level. Classroom sessions followed and focused on construction, retail and marketing topics.
Saturday awoke to another round of Cup of Coffee sessions, followed by an informative keynote presented by Ed Beaulieu, vice president of field research and contractor development, and Heiko Bleher, a German researcher, author, photographer and filmmaker best known for his contribution to the exploration of fresh and brackish water habitats worldwide and the discovery of many species of fish and aquatic plants. Another round of classroom sessions followed, including a species-specific biotopes seminar led by Bleher.
An awards ceremony and the annual Pondemonium Blow-Out Bash wrapped up an eventful week filled with training and networking opportunities. Aquascape’s top 20 contractors and top 20 retailers were awarded the popular “crazy-legs” frog trophy, while four individuals received the coveted annual specialty awards. Certified Aquascape Contractor of the Year was awarded to April and Sean Frost of NatureScapes in Grafton, New Hampshire. Businessman of the Year was awarded to Matt Griffin of PrimeLawn in Porter, Texas. Artist of the Year went to Tussey Landscaping LLC in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, while Conservationist of the Year went to Kathy Smith of Tropical Water Gardens in Deland, Florida.
Pondemonium 2018 is slated for Aug. 22-26. For more information, visit www.pondemonium.com.