Water Artisans of the Year: Meet This Year’s Judges

Just as in past years, we meticulously assembled a unique panel of leaders that we felt represented a wide cross section of the industry’s capabilities and expertise.

Each “blind” entry presented to the panel consisted of a brief, contractor-supplied description with all names, companies and products hidden or removed, along with up to four photographs. Each judge submitted numerical rankings based on this information alone. Our staff tallied up all the votes, and the entries with the most votes in each of the five categories (most naturalistic, best pondless, ponds revisited, best feature under $15,000, and best hardscape combo) were crowned winners.

Employees of POND Trade magazine with knowledge of the contestants’ identities did not cast votes.
Keeping with tradition, the POND Trade Editorial Board invited two previous contest winners to serve on the fourth session of the “Supreme Stream Court,” and we filled the remaining five spots with some of the leading builders, designers and business professionals from around the industry. We’d like to send a shout out and special thanks to the seven aquatic authorities who dedicated their time and discerning eyes to this year’s panel.

Mike Garcia, the founder of Enviroscape L.A., began his career in the horticultural field more than 25 years ago. Under his leadership, Enviroscape L.A. offers environmentally friendly, sustainable landscape design and water-feature installation services. The company has won numerous awards at the local, state, national and international levels.

Dan Put is the founder of Put’s Ponds and Gardens based in Eastern Michigan. The company is a Certified Aquascape Contractor that draws on both traditional Japanese and classic English garden design to create special places of harmony and tranquility for people, birds and other wildlife. 

Gregg Sawyer won last year in the best waterfall category for his brilliant makeover of a luxury subdivision entrance that channels the essence of Grand Teton State Park. His company, Sawyer Waterscaping, has installed and maintained water features throughout Southeastern Wyoming, Northern Colorado and Western Nebraska for the past 20 years.

Randy Stewart is the division manager at Unit Liner Company, the parent company of Shawnee, Oklahoma-based Pondliner.com, the host of the annual Water Garden Expo (WGE). Since 1998, Pondliner.com has served as the only wholesale distributor in the industry that operates both a retail e-commerce website and a local store.

Max Taylor of Magnolia Ponds and Water Gardens was victorious in last year’s best under $15,000 category. His industry experience dates back almost 40 years. Currently, his Woodland, Texas-based company specializes in complex backyard design makeovers and has won multiple national awards for design in both the pond and swimming pool industries.

Kent Wallace is a regular contributor to POND Trade magazine and has been building and designing ponds for almost 20 years. His first pond won Best Courtyard Nationwide in Better Homes & Gardens magazine. His Las Vegas-based company, Living Water Solutions, has a unique core competency in specifying right-sized filtration and equipment for projects of all sizes.

Jeff Weemhoff is the president of Atlantic Water Gardens, a recent addition to the OASE Group that offers a complete line of contractor-ready, professional-grade water feature products. Atlantic Water Gardens is based in Aurora, Ohio, and their innovative products are available at hundreds of distributor locations throughout North America and across the globe.

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