When Greg Wittstock's family moved from a lakeside house in New Jersey to the Chicago suburbs when he was 12, he had to build a pond for his pet turtles to live in.
After some initial setbacks, Wittstock improved the design and efficiency of the pond, including using a rubberized liner rather than concrete. His pond received accolades from friends, neighbors and delivery people visiting the house.
During his first year in college, Wittstock calculated that if he could build three ponds that summer, he could make more money than he did at his previous summer job. He ended up building five ponds, kept promoting the business that he called Aquascape Designs, and the next year, he sold 12 ponds.
He took time off from college to continue building the business, but his big break came when the Chicago Tribune ran an article about his business, which sparked the sale of 81 ponds and began his pond empire.
Originally, Wittstock was going to franchise his business, but after the first deal fell through, he decided to supply others with his knowledge and products. Aquascape's primary customer is the contractor who purchases the design and knowledge. Because of Aquascape's background in installation, the company is able to provide first-hand knowledge of how to do the job right.
After hearing customers say they wish they had built a bigger pond, Wittstock entered the DIY market. He believes these customers who build their own ponds today will have a contractor build a larger pond in the future.