SAN DIEGO BUSINESS JOURNAL
SAN DIEGO COUNTY’S AWARD-WINNING BUSINESS WEEKLY
For George Juchum, cruising local desert communities is all in a day’s work. Scouring landscapes in search of perfectly shaped boul-ders is how he makes a living. Visiting parks in hopes of finding aestheti-cally pleasing slabs of granite is his “Amer-ican Dream.” Juchum, a native of Poland, came to the United States more than 10 years ago with $400 in his pocket. Today, he is president of Rockscapes Unlimited, .a San Diego-based company specializing in the placement and creation of rock sculptures. Founded in 1993, the company has doubled its staff (from two to four) and has increased sales from $40,000 in its first year of operation, to 5350,000 in 1998. The company, which won an Orchid for its work at the Santee Trolley Station, has com-nleted more than 200 projects since its incep-.ion. Ranging in value from $3,000 to more than $200,000, Rockscapes Unlimited projects have included everything from caves to ponds to water slides. “Every single part of this work is creative,” Juchum said. “We can make mountains. We can make waterfalls. Some people say we are the right hand of God.” Del Mar Country Club’s 60-foot-wide, 18-foot-tall pool, which features three hand-made rock water slides, is a Rockscapes Un-limited creation that won a first place award in Business Industry for Rockwork. It’s dual entry with Evergreen Nursery (which Rockscapes Unlimited has formed a partnership with) at the Del Mar Fair has won the company two first-place ribbons — one for design and one for water feature. A veterinarian in Cardiff commissioned the company to turn his backyard into the appropriate breeding grounds for the flamingo, his favorite animal. The result is one of the world’s only private flamingo zoos; complete with secluded caves, islands, and streams. The company has just started work on “something incredible” — a vanishing edge pool that will be incorporated into a 20-foot-tall, 150-foot-long natural rock formation at an Alpine residence. Each project begins by identifying the client’s desires, said a de-signer at Rockscapes Unlimited.
(Del Mar Country Club pool won first place in magazine competition.)
“We ask them what they are looking for — some will have pictures, some will just know they like a particular style,” said. “Then we create something off the informa-tion they give us that reflects their age, lifestyle, etc.” Rockscapes Unlimited projects are a combi-nation of real and mold-created rocks. After traveling to rock-infested areas and taking molds of the best-looking rocks and boulders, the crew returns to place the hollow rocks alongside their natural counterparts. “If you say you saw a rock somewhere that you want on your property, we can re-create it.” Juchum said. “We .can place it in the environment and then use paint and primer to make it all blend together.” Juchum was introduced to rockwork within a few months of coming to the United States. Learning English from television (his first purchase in the states), Juchum hit the streets in search of employment. Within a day he landed regular work that paid $6 per hour. “I did everything from building houses to laying concrete,” he said. “My first day I took asphalt off the street and piled it up in a neat pattern off to the side. A woman came out and asked if she could take a picture of my work, she said she had never seen someone that could take asphalt and make it look so nice.” Meanwhile, Rockscapes Unlimited’s future treasurer, , was perfecting the skill in Italy. Coming to America, and Juchum met through social circles and the rest, they say, is history.
Jennifer Bengen – Special to The Daily Californian
When the Ball family in ‘Alpine decided to pit in a pool, their property’s lair and diffi-cult-to-budge boulders restricted their options for the pool’s size and location. Their decision to put in a vanishing edge pool shows. that sometimes, problems can foster heautical solutions. Vanishing edge pools are optical illusions in which the pool edge seems to simply disappear. Below the rim, a basin collects the water spilling over the edge and recycles it back into the pool. In the case of the Alpine residence, the pool resembles a small pond surrounded by a natural environment of boulders, plants and waterfalls. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, these types of pools are also practical. “The vanishing edge makes the pool more selfcleaning because the water is constantly moving,” said one of the owners. ToWering over 20 feet above the pool on the left side looms a massive slab of granite with a waterfall trickling down its front face. Actually, only the top half of the boulder is real granite — the bottom half was artificially created by Rockscapes company that specializes in creating realistic looking rock sculptures and blending them into the surrounding environment.
Rockscapes president George Juchum and his two partners custom make these pseudoboulders using molds of actual rocks. Once the boulders are created, primers, latex paint and splatter paint are used to match the original rock or to create the illusion of one continuous boulder. Normally these molds are hollow, but in this case, they are filled with cement to provide more support. According to Juchum, these artificial rocks are much less expensive to build with than realones, and they allow owners to choose particular rocks which strike their fancy “We can recreate any rock or boulder you see,” said Juchum. His company often travels to the desert to find the perfect specimen. “Right down to the cracks and coloring, we can match it perfectly.’ One look at the Alpine pool confirms that he and his part-ners have perfected their craft. Its impossible to distinguish where the real boulder ends above the pool; only the cascadir waterfall gives it away, “We just really like the look,” said the owners, “George did a really great job.”
The pool is framed by smaller granite boulders on its side as well, and although its difficult to tell, some of these are also Rockscapes creations. Smaller waterfalls trickle down these boulders into the pool, continu-ally creating the pleasant burble of running water. “We try to create the most natural looking atmosphere possible,” said Juchum. “We create environments, not simply rock structures. Everything must fit seamlessly together.” The pool’s ambience is enhanced by a putting green and the family has plans to install a barbecue put as well. According to Juchum, the cost of a vanishing edge pool varies considerably depending on how elaborate the project is. A relatively inexpensive one starts around $50,000 but can run as high as $100,000 for a lot of earthmoving and sophisticated environments. Although the Alpine resi-dence’s vanishing edge pool is probably on the simpler side, the results are an impressive commentary on making the best out of obstacles if you can’t
By Miriam Raftety Encinitas — Veterinarian Robert Stonebreaker’s backyard oasis is strictly for the birds — pink flamingos and blue macaws. “Most people think I’m crazy. but it’s stress relief for me. I can come out here and watch the birds and listen to the water” – he says of the 1.3 acres at his Encinitas home he transforme into a mini-paradise with waterfall, a moat and an island home for his flock of 22 Chilean flamingos. “This is his pride and joy”- Stonebreaker’s wife, Pam says.
Two years ago Stonebreaker hired Rockscapes Unlimited and Tom Piergrossi Landscaping to remove the old greenhouses and hardscape on his agricultural zoned property. The ensuing construction took eight months and cost 100,000. Today a stroll through Stonebreaker’s “flamingo resort” is breathtaking. Four waterfalls cascade over rock walls, spilling into verdant green pools in a grotto below. “Birds like to hear water” – explains Stonebreaker. 40 who began raising and breeding tropical birds when he was 15. A wooden walkway meanders through more than 1.500 species of tropical plants. Vibrant hibiscus and African tulip trees add splashes of colon thorns protrude from the trunks of silk floss trees. Bromeliads, some 200 palm trees and several species of fruit-bearing banana trees also adorn the grounds.
A desert tortoise, one of several recently emerged from hibernation. ambles across the sunny path. A patient of Stonebreaker, it is recuperating from respiratory problems. “People are always bringing animals in and donating them because they’re sick. They don’t”
Company’s profits have continued to mount with first-rate works of art for the home and work.
A Polish native, George Juchum came to the United States more than 10 years ago with nothing more than $400 in his pocket.
European immigrant George Juchum has a rock solid career in the States creating faux rock sculptures. A Polish native, Juchum came to the United States more than 10 years ago with nothing-more than $400 in his pocket.. Now president of Rockscapes Unlimited, a company specializing in the placement and creation of rock sculptures, Juchum today does large scale artistic projects starting at $3,000 of waterfalls, ponds, caves, barbecues, bars, retaining wall, covers and landscaping rock design. Founded in 1993, Rockscapes Unlimited started out with just $40.000 in sales. In 1998, the company’s annual revenues had grown to $350,000. The company has completed more than 200 projects since its start.
What Juchum and his partners do is make molds of natural rocks which , they duplicate. Rockscapes Unlimited creations include Del Mar Country Club’s 60 foot wide and 18 foot tall pool which features three hand made rock waterslides, the Santee Trolley Station and a Jacuzzi for San Diego Charger Alfred Pupunu.
Juchum does custom work. “Most of our work is completely designed, like waterslides and waterfalls around pools,” he stated. “Most people call us directly and want us to design everything from the beginning. It’s a real creation.” Doing the work on the faux rock sculpture creations is not hard, in Juchum’s view. Coming up with just the right idea to suit the client or the project — that’s the hard part. “The problem is imagination — creating something,” he said. He’s proud of the work his company does in stretching the limits of imagination. “If you can go to’ sleep and dream about something that looks very natural — we can do it,” he said. Sometimes it’s difficult for Juchum to figure out if his work’s more passion or obsession. “I’m a little bit crazy,” he admitted. “I lay for like two or three hours in the bed thinking about how to make the rock look as good as possible. My wife told me I’m a rockaholic.” Juchum’s partners include designer and company treasurer who learned how to work with rocks from his grandfather in Italy. The company’s favorite customers are those who
give thorn poetic license to use their imaginations. “We’ve got customers who really let us fly, design this and that,” stated Juchum. “That’s when it’s really beautiful.” Being creative is not only a talent, but a lot of hard work, notes Juchum, adding it takes a year or two to break someone into his business, teach them all the ins and oute’of style and construction for faux rock sculptures.
Rockscapes Unlimited uses rebar steel and concrete as the cement to tie its rock pieces — much like pieces in a puzzle – together. The early, skeletal stages of the company’s work are not pretty. “The whole structure looks like Frankenstein after an operation,” Juchum said. But when you tie all those separate rock pieces together and apply the finishing touches — it’s a work of art. For more information on Rockscapes Unlimited, call (619) 303 70 61.
MAN MADE WATERFALLS. ponds. streams. and rock formations. known to landscape architects collectively as rock and water features. are the perfect way to enhance almost every landscape. Ihe sights and sounds of water in natural settings can provide much needed relief from our stressful. modern lifestyles. An extremely attracrive and affordable alternative to real rock is rock and water features created from lightweight. manufactured rock. This product is made by pouring cement into moulds that are taken from real rock formations. Lightweight rocks and components made in this fashion look exacrly like real rock but at only 5 – 7 % of the weight. Mamufactured boulders and various components such as large rock walls. can easily be hand carried to the jobsite and then fused together to achieve a rock or water feature that is strong durable and incredibly realistic looking. With lightweight manufactured rock design versatility is greatly increased because the rock can be put together like a puzzle in an endless number of ways. Some applications inside or outside the home include waterfalls ponds. Streams landscaping rock pools and spas atriums barbeques fireplaces walls and more. Choose a company who net only manufactures their own rock but also offer design insrallation service and guarantees the quality of their product with a written warranty. One such company is Rockscapes Unlimited specializingin unique rock and water features.