Once again, we’ve gathered your favorite water gardening speakers to present topics that will inspire you to take your business to the next level. You’ll gain valuable insight as they share their experience and expertise in engaging ways!
Greg Wittstock – The Pond Guy
Greg, aka The Pond Guy, is owner and CEO of Aquascape, Inc. He has been dabbling in water gardens since the age of 12 and has a love of everything water and turtles. After experimenting with ponds for over eight years, Greg had a “light bulb” moment during a drive home from the boring summer job he took during college in 1990. He decided that he wanted to do something he loved for a living – he wanted to build ponds. Just 30 second later, he had a company name, Aquascape. The next year, he began building ponds during his breaks in the school year. From there he created the Aquascape, Inc. business model, which includes a mix of distribution, retail, and installation services.Greg is a sought-after speaker on topics ranging from water gardening to business success and strategy. He authored The Pond Guy on Marketing and has appeared on the cover of Inc. Magazine. You may have also seen him on Nat Geo Wild’s “Pond Stars” series.
When Greg is not working, he enjoys scuba diving and exploring remote parts of the world. Greg has a love of life and adventure; his motto is “Carpe Diem.”
Dr. James MacDonald
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and both are from Ontario, Canada. He is the father of three grown children and grandfather to five amazing grandsons. James has committed his life and ministry to the unapologetic proclamation of God’s Word. In 1988, with eighteen people, James and Kathy planted Harvest Bible Chapel, which now ministers to more than 13,000 at seven campuses in the great Chicago area each weekend.
In addition to his preaching ministry, James began the Bible-teaching ministry Walk in the Word on one radio station in 1997. Today, the Walk in the Word radio broadcast reaches more than three million people every day, and the television program, which started in 2014, has a daily audience that extends around the world.
In 2002, James founded the church-planting network Harvest Bible Fellowship. Now, more than 160 vertical churches on four continents are impacting their communities through the truth of God’s Word, with the vision of planting 1000 churches.
Team building guru Dr. Jim Cain is the author of 16 books filled with team and community building activities from around the world. He is the creative force behind his training company, Teamwork & Teamplay and has taught team building in all 50 states and 31 countries (so far). His train-the-trainer programs are legendary and are used by corporations around the world to promote leadership, teamwork, and a positive work culture.
Lauri has worked in the field of corporate training for several Fortune 100 companies since1983 . Her company, Mitchell Motivation, develops and implements training programs in customer service, sales, communication, team building, and conflict management. She is a certified DiSC trainer and has received numerous awards over the years for high achievement in sales and training. The overall goal of all her training programs is to help clients become exceptional at what they do by increasing their professional competency and productivity.www.mitchellmotivation.com
With 15 years of green industry experience, it’s no wonder Jeff was a great match for Aquascape, Inc. Jeff came to Aquascape in 1998 after working at an independent garden center with shrubs and trees, and as a landscape designer running multiple crews. During his tenure, he held positions including: technical services, customer service manager, vice president of customer relations, and general manager of NurseryPro, before earning his current title of vice president of business development.
Brian has been with Aquascape, Inc. since 1995, starting out in the warehouse and working his way up to his current position as construction manager. He’s given hundreds of pond construction seminars across the country and is considered to be one of the premier waterfall builders in the nation. Brian shared his pond expertise as a contributing author for The Pond Builder’s Bible, published by Aquascape, Inc.Brian’s creative pond designs have been featured in numerous publications, including Better Homes and Gardens special interest publications, and Nature’s Garden. In addition, Brian has generously extended his pond artistry to several impressive, public water feature designs including Epcot® International Flower and Garden Show, Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and more. He also appeared on Nat Geo Wild’s “Pond Stars” series.
Since 2006, Brian has designed and led the project team for Aquascape’s signature water gardens at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, much to the delight of show attendees. In 2009, Brian and the Aquascape Designs construction crew received the Silver Award for Excellence in Landscape from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association.
Dave is the vice president of product management at Aquascape, Inc. Dave joined the early ranks of Aquascape in 1996, with a bachelor’s degree in environmental health science from Illinois State University, with an emphasis in constructed wetlands and natural methods for wastewater treatment. Dave is able to apply a wide range of experience and expertise in the areas of water, plants, fish, and water ecology.As vice president of product development, Dave is instrumental in translating product performance information and research and development from the field into product improvement and new product development for Aquascape.
Dave is a highly sought after presenter at Pondemonium and water gardening seminars across the country, and has successfully trained numerous green industry professionals. He co-authored The Pond Builder’s Bible, The Pond Retailer’s Bible, Succeeding & Prospering with Water Features: Volume II, and Pond Building for Hobbyists. Patented products that carry Dave’s stamp of expertise include the Constructed Wetland, Pondless® Waterfalls, and the Signature Skimmer.
Heiko Bleher is a German researcher, author, photographer and filmmaker best known in the scientific community for his contribution to the exploration of fresh and brackish water habitats worldwide and the discovery of many species of fish and aquatic plants, several of which carry his name, discovery location or are named in honor of Bleher’s family including Hemmigrammus bleheri, Leporinus bleheri, Bleheratherina pierucciae, Streatocranus bleheri, Channa bleheri, Phenacogrammus bleheri, Moenkhausia heikoi, Chilatherina bleheri, Vrisea bleheri, and various others.
Ed has been with Aquascape since the summer of 1993; his background and passion for the environment is evident in his numerous design/build projects. Ed uses his expertise and experience to create and improve industry products. Ed holds a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology with an emphasis in limnology (study of freshwater ecosystems), with graduate studies in marine biology and coastal zone management.Ed has designed and installed over 1,000 water features of all sizes. He’s an author, inventor, and speaker for the water garden industry. His role in consulting and construction services has allowed him to travel the world to practice his craft. Ed recently appeared as “the scientist” in Nat Geo Wild’s “Pond Stars” series.
As the Director of Field Research at Aquascape, Ed tackles a wide variety of unique projects. He continually pushes Aquascape products to their limits while exploring innovative solutions and techniques to stay in front of the competition.
Ed sums up his career in the words of Robert Mondavi, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
Chris worked in the landscape industry for 15 years before deciding to turn his green thumb blue when he took on the role of construction team leader for Aquascape. Chris earned a degree in horticulture from Kishwaukee College, and is an ISA-certified arborist.Chris’ background in landscape design comes in handy when creating custom-designed water features. Chris brings a holistic approach to the design process, paying close attention to the water feature’s surrounding landscape and how the different elements interact with each other.
Some of Chris’ other passions outside of his career are his family, hunting, art, conservation, his local pro sports teams (except the White Sox) and craft beer. Chris lives for the waterfowl and upland game seasons. If you can’t find him working, or at home enjoying family, chances are he’s in the duck blind or running his Vizslas for pheasants. He recently appeared as the “new guy” on Nat Geo Wild’s “Pond Stars” series.
In 1986, Don Schnoor started working in his family’s pond business located in central New Jersey. He quickly fell in love with koi and building water features. He managed the pond construction and maintenance division. By the mid-nineties, the business grew into a wholesale distribution company adding hardware and consumables to its product offering.Don also served as sales and marketing manager for Mag Noy Ltd., setting up distribution of imported Israeli koi and goldfish in the U.S. market. He then managed the sales division of Aquatic Gardens & Koi Co. as vice president and national sales manager, growing the business to one of the largest pond wholesale distribution businesses in the United States.
In March of 2012, Don accepted a position as the northeast territory sales manager for Aquascape, Inc. His current position allows him to utilize all of his skills from building and maintaining water features, to koi keeping and fish health, to the retail and distribution part of the pond industry that he has learned throughout his career.
Derek graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He joined the Aquascape team during the acquisition of Water Creations in 2003, where he served as the sales manager for eastern Canada. He brings a well-seasoned resume of 15 years of experience in the water gardening industry. In his current role as national sales manager at Aquascape, Derek leads outside sales representatives and is responsible for setting up national programs with key accounts and buying groups. Derek has presented at numerous water gardening seminars and events, and has appeared on Carson Arthur Home Improvement Show, HGTV and Terra @ Home Show, CHCH TV. You may have also heard him on CBC Radio, Gardening with Mark Cullen.
Aveline Hauser, Director of Marketing
With 18 years’ experience in B2B and B2C brand management, strategic planning, digital marketing, and integrated marcom initiatives; Aveline joined Aquascape in June 2016 as Director of Marketing. Her proven reputation as a well-rounded strategic marketer helps to continue positive momentum of the Aquascape brand at both the wholesale and consumer level.
Tavia began her career at Aquascape as the Pond Guy’s assistant in 2003. From there she moved to customer service and then to the technical services department in 2005. As a tech agent, Tavia assists contractors, retailers, and distributors with troubleshooting as well as quoting bids for custom projects, large and small. She’s conducted numerous Build-A-Pond and Build-A-Pondless® Waterfall seminars at Aquascape and around the country.
Since his arrival at Aquascape in 1997, Chris has collaborated on hundreds of pond design projects, and works extensively with contractors and distributors to ensure their success with water gardening. He is an engaging, gifted presenter and has been a featured speaker at hundreds of seminars nationwide. He once toured 63 cities in three months, educating contractors and distributors on the nuts and bolts of the water gardening industry, from business operations, to pond design and installation, to sales and marketing, and more.Chris has installed hundreds of ponds during his tenure with Aquascape, and is considered a respected expert in the industry. He’s been quoted in Pool & Spa Magazine, Water Garden News, and Landscape Contractor Magazine, in addition to being interviewed by several Chicago area publications. He is a contributing author and narrator for Aquascape’s Online Academy as well as a lead instructor for the Hands-On portion; these two platforms combined have educated more than 5,000 professionals and hobbyists to date.
Chris currently serves as Midwest regional sales manager within Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.