Episode 240: Creative Environments: 200 + Team Executing Complex & Original Design-Build Projects Fast with Dan Waters

ABOUT

Greg and Justin sit down with Dan Waters, Owner and Principal at Creative Environments, which provides pool, spa, landscape design, and construction services in Phoenix.


With over 33 years of design and landscape construction experience, Dan has worked on the design and development of landscaping for for Toll Brothers, Pulte Homes, Del Webb, Jackson Properties, and Engle Homes.


Dan co-founded and helped to build Creative Environments from $700,000 in revenues to over $50 million. In addition, he has trained and mentored over 100 landscape designers and architects in the workings of quality design, and is a regular Guest Speaker at Arizona State University Construction Management Program.


Listen in as Dan goes down memory lane, from earning $3.35 an hour in fast food as a kid to a one-off construction project for a swimming pool, to his first official landscaping job, to, at just 24 years old, purchasing the business that he would grow from a six to a 200-person operation.


Dan also talks about Creative Environments’ decision to put up their own metal fabrication shop, how they manage to stay within budget, and the astonishing speed at which the company accomplishes its projects.


He discusses the business’s client-facing approach, insisting that his salespeople are themselves designers who could see client desires and considerations from their point of view, offering something that matches their vision as closely as possible over simply getting the sale.


Finally, Dan speaks on how the company is currently navigating a still-turbulent economy and lingering supply chain challenges. He explains why reputation management is something that no business owner should skimp on amid a market where delays and setbacks should be expected.

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TOPICS DISCUSSED

  • [07:08] Dan’s background and career in design and construction
  • [18:26] How Dan got into pools
  • [25:34] How Dan met Charlie Bowie & Justin
  • [35:08] TS Pool Supply
  • [38:44] Why Creative Environments keeps their own metal fabrication shop
  • [48:22] Business considerations when starting a fab shop
  • [51:33] Why Dan wants designers as his salespeople
  • [55:06] The speed of Creative Environments’ turnaround time on projects
  • [1:02:50] Evaluating a new hire’s character and problem solving process
  • [1:13:43] Navigating uncertainties in the supply chain
  • [1:22:44] The keys to reputation management
  • [1:30:27] Dan’s favorite pools
  • [1:43:47] Dan’s favorite book and sources of inspiration

People & Resources Mentioned

CONNECT WITH GUEST

Creative Environments- Azure​​

KEY QUOTES BY DAN

  • The number one thing to keep in mind if you’re deciding whether or not to do business with someone is whether you trust them. If you can’t trust them, you can’t do business with them.
  • The revenue you earn from upcoming business will prepare you for the downturn. Capitalize on that. Work hard and don’t be afraid to do things that others won’t.
  • I want to enjoy. I want to relax. I want to decompress. A pool that gives that to me is a really good feeling.

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