10   +   2   =  

More than 400 distributors, contractors, and retailers from around the world came together August 23–26 for education, networking, and fun at the pond industry’s premier training event, Pondemonium 2012, held in St. Charles, Ill. at the corporate headquarters of Aquascape, Inc. This year’s theme was “Reinvent Yourself to Win the Battle” and offered workshops and hands-on training sessions designed to instruct attendees about optimizing their business to meet the challenges of today’s market.

The event kicked off Thursday night with a party on the outdoor terrace of the historic Chicago Shedd Aquarium, where the Aquascape team has installed three water features to educate visitors about the importance of native habitats and making a positive impact on our environment.

Friday’s classroom sessions started with keynote presentations from Greg Wittstock, CEO and Founder of Aquascape, Inc. and Jay Goltz, entrepreneur, speaker, and blogger for The New York Times. Greg’s presentation, “Reinvent Yourself to Win the Battle” focused on keeping in step with the rapid changes in business and using new technology to connect with today’s consumer. Jay’s presentation, “Misperceptions and Missed Opportunities in Selling to Today’s New Consumer” honed in on practical applications that business owners can incorporate to optimize sales and growth. On Saturday, Ed Beaulieu, chief sustainability officer for Aquascape, delivered his keynote address on “The Ecosystem Concept of Water Features.”

Once again, Pondemonium offered “Cup of Coffee” roundtable discussions in the morning, led by a variety of water feature contractors and retailers on topics covering pond construction, sales techniques, merchandising, marketing initiatives, social media application, and much more. Pondemonium® classroom workshops also featured a variety of topics and included a hands-on track designed for those new to the industry or pond builders wishing to improve construction techniques.

Networking events were offered throughout Pondemonium and included a trip to Ball Horticultural Company for dinner and a private tour of the expansive gardens. In addition, the annual beer garden at Aqualand, corporate headquarters of Aquascape, afforded opportunities for socializing and idea-swapping. A standard Build-a-Pond, pond tour, awards ceremony and annual Blow-Out Bash rounded out the agenda for 2012.

During the awards ceremony, Aquascape recognized customers who displayed one or more of the company’s core values of Character, Team, Win-4, and Fun. In addition, 3 recipients were selected to receive special awards.

•           Mike Gannon of Full Service Aquatics in Summit, NJ was awarded 2012 Businessman of the Year by Greg Wittstock.

•           Joel Reinders of Reinders Inc. in Sussex, WI was awarded 2012 Conservation/Sustainability Award by Ed Beaulieu, chief sustainability officer for Aquascape, Inc.

•           Chris Siewing of Nature’s Re-Creations in St. Louis, MO was awarded Artist of the Year/Workmanship Award by Brian Helfrich, construction manager for Aquascape, Inc.