For nearly a decade, Lucas Congdon has been posting videos of his elaborate swimming pool creations on YouTube. It comes naturally to the president/CEO of Lucas Lagoons in Osprey, Fla. After all, the self-described videophile has been interested in film from a young age, so combining his love of camera and construction was an obvious progression. Of course, he thought all along, “this would make for a good television show.” He was right.
In February 2015, Congdon made his network debut on Animal Planet’s “Insane Pools: Off the Deep End.” The show follows him along as he draws upon his love of all things outdoors to create exotic nature-inspired pools and exterior living spaces.
“I was hoping someone would discover me online someday, but it’s one of those things I never thought would really happen,” recalls Congdon, who became a landscaper at 14 when his mom opened a business in Vermont. “It was like a pipe dream. It’s very rejuvenating when you step back and watch the show and get the reward of what has been created.”
“Insane Pools” ran for two seasons and features a new project in each of the 16 episodes. Although it hasn’t been picked up for a third, it’s not out of the question. But first, Congdon says he plans to take a year off to recuperate after a tough production schedule that did not allow for breaks, errors or missed deadlines.
Shows like this require plenty of stamina.
For starters, the projects are no small feat. This year he has several that exceed $1 million, and jobs like that can’t be rushed, especially when the clients are his — not hired by the show. Plus, he still encounters challenges and obstacles in the field as the projects get more extreme.
Take the Season 2 finale, Episode 10, titled, “Castle by the Sea.” In this edition, Congdon was pushed out of his comfort zone when he had to come up with a way to build a pool without any rebar. (How did he resolve the issue? Watch the full episode online at www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/insane-pools.)
“You can’t do 10 of those a year,” Congdon says. “I don’t want to sacrifice the product to make a show. It was a great catalyst for growth and exposure, but at the end of the day, if it sacrifices your core business of building beautiful pools, it’s not worth it.”
Congdon understands sacrifice.
In fact, he has worked the last 13 years to build his business, often through trial and error and at the risk of profit, to get where he is today.
He started on his path after a brief stint at Montana State University, where he studied landscape architecture. Congdon determined he was better off getting his hands dirty and left school to pursue a career in the field. After traveling the country to pick the best area to launch a business, he settled on Florida for its affordability and climate.
He began his company in 2003 as a tree service and landscape firm but gradually changed his focus to waterfeatures, then swimming ponds with sand bottoms and later concrete grottos and pools. Lucas Lagoons officially was born.
In his market, Congdon recognized a noticeable lack of pool builders thinking outside the box in terms of natural materials. He used the vacancy as an opportunity to become the local expert and focused his efforts on ensuring that he always exceeded client expectations. In the beginning, however, this required him to reduce his price to land a job, starting with some projects as low as $35,000.
“I would always build the most amazing thing I could for whatever budget I could pull out of my client and organically grew to buildng the crazy elaborate pools we do today.”
Whether it’s via his YouTube channel, as depicted on “Insane Pools” or on a traditional jobsite, Congdon views every obstacle as an opportunity to learn. And he hopes to share his knowledge with others. Recently he has been doing a lot of consulting and outreach with pool and spa industry peers and landscapers to exchange ideas and information.
“I’m trying to help them avoid the costly mistakes I made in the early years,” he says. “I love sharing my passion.”