One of the core duties of a judge is to serve as an impartial decision-maker in the pursuit of justice. Ideally, he or she should be equipped with a vast amount knowledge and experience in the appropriate field.
At POND Trade, we are fortunate to have numerous contacts across the spectrum of the pond and water feature industry, and we called on seven of them to evaluate the dozens of entries submitted in this year’s contest. While their knowledge and expertise in their respective areas are indisputable, we took an extra step to ensure that any personal biases — whether conscious or unconscious — could be minimized or eliminated.
We presented all entries to the judges with the names of the artisans, companies and products hidden or removed. Each entry consisted of a brief, 50-word description along with up to four photos. They submitted their rankings based on this information alone, and when tallied up, the contractors with the most votes in each of the five categories were crowned winners, with second-place vote-getters receiving a runner-up honorable mention. Two of the judges serve on POND Trade’s Editorial Committee, an advisory board that meets occasionally to discuss the publication’s editorial content. Employees of POND Trade magazine with knowledge of the contestants’ identities did not cast votes.
In the end, the results speak freely for themselves, with pure craftsmanship and talent shining through, above all else. We feel that justice was served without favoritism or any unnecessary “pond-tification.”
Ed Beaulieu is one of the longest-serving employees at Aquascape, having started in construction in 1993 and advanced to his current position as the director of contractor development and field research. With degrees in zoology and marine biology, Ed is considered one of the industry’s top experts in water feature design.
Kelly Billing of Maryland Aquatic Nurseries is one of the most published experts on water plants. She is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist and has more than 30 years of experience in the water gardening industry.
Benjamin Timmermans, who was named the 2015 Helix Pond Contractor of the Year, is the president and lead designer at Liquid Landscapes Inc. in Asheville, North Carolina. He has degrees in recreation and wildlife management and has personally completed hundreds of waterscape construction projects over several decades.
Mike Miller is the manager of Pondliner.com’s Pond Pro Shop in Shawnee, the “Water Garden Capital of Oklahoma.” He specializes in pond and water-garden education and teaches 16 classes at the shop spanning a wide variety of disciplines. His passion is working to bridge the learning gap between beginners and professionals who love ponds and water gardening.
Dave Duensing is an industry leader and educator on exceptional water features, with an influence that extends throughout the world. He is the owner of several construction and consulting companies that specialize in using natural rock to craft living water features. He is well known across multiple industries, having starred in the Animal Planet TV series “Pool Master.”
Rick Smith is a veteran of the pond and water-gardening industry, with more than 30 years of experience spanning a variety of roles and companies. He is currently the director of sales at EasyPro Pond Products.
Jason Lenox has been in the pond construction business for almost three decades and is known for building some of the largest water features across Illinois. He co-owns Ponds Inc. of Illinois and is one of the architects behind the Water Artisans of the Year contest, which he originally suggested on POND Trade’s Facebook page.