Julia LioJulia Lio

It began Down Under in 1985 during Barry Justus’ first big trip. “I was young and backpacking in Australia when I ran out of money,” he recalled. “I got a job building concrete pools for four months.”

To date, Justus has visited more than 100 international locations, which enables him to bring imaginative ideas and concepts home — and his clients couldn’t be happier. It’s a point of pride for Justus’ 23-year-old company, Poolscape Inc. in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, to come up with projects that have the “wow factor.”

Before reaching this point, the lifelong Burlington resident got a B.A. in economics at University of Western Ontario; later he was a professional firefighter for nine years.

As part of honing his skills for the career he eventually settled on, he took Genesis 3 courses in design and construction. Now a gold member of that organization, he has been on its faculty for three years. In fact, he’s leading a two-day G3 class on how to design custom pools using “Pool Studio” software on Nov. 3-4 at the 2014 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Orlando, Fla.

“We’re not a volume builder,” he explained, noting that his 15-man crew constructed just four pools last year, worth a total of $6 million. Subcontractors are called in only if a “really specialized” feature is being built, such as one project now under way. Justus said it will be the biggest private pool in Canada, featuring a TV that rises out of the middle.

Over the years, he’s found that some of the biggest challenges can come in human form. Many of Justus’ clients are very wealthy, and people who feel entitled sometimes can be demanding, but he takes it in stride. “I’m a construction guy and I like to be on site. I like the challenges and complicated projects,” he said. “It may be stressful, but at the end of the day, it keeps me interested and focused.”

He added that his company also has built pools for celebrities, including an NFL player and a hockey player. Soon Justus will be working on a project for “a very big rock star here in Canada.”

Though he said he’s wrapped up in his business, he does know how to unwind, be it hiking or working out at the gym. Justus has a 2-acre home in the countryside near Burlington, but no pool or spa. “I’m not at home much,” he said. “I’m pretty mobile.” Indeed, he still likes to grab a backpack and take a trip somewhere, with favorite spots being the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and Thailand. Soon he may add to that list — his next big adventures will take him to Chile, Easter Island and the Antarctic.