Watkins Concrete Block of Omaha, Nebraska recently completed its fourth Ultimate Backyard Challenge. The contest was started in 2005 to encourage hardscape contractors to think beyond the patio and up sell projects to include all the amenities of an outdoor room. Each project includes hardscape products that Watkins offers like retaining walls, pavers and natural stone. Fire features are required to provide year round use for the homeowner. The project must be landscaped and utilize landscape lighting. Contractors are required to clean and seal the pavers for photo and video purposes. “The real winners are the homeowners.” says Lisa Lackovic, marketing manager for Watkins. “They get an awesome backyard for outdoor living and entertaining. Their yard becomes the neighborhood gathering spot and provides enjoyment for everyone.”
The contest has continued despite the downturn in the economy due to the fact that more people are staying in their home instead of moving and staying home instead of traveling. Material discounts are offered to the contractor and carried to the homeowner as added incentive for them to upgrade their project. “Everyone is looking for a deal these days.” Lackovic states. “We offer some price reductions to help the contractor sell the homeowner a larger scale project than was originally planned.”
Three landscape architects judge the contest in the fall and select the one with best overall design, workmanship, creativity and use of space. The winner of the 2009 contest will be announced at the Watkins Hardscape Contractor Seminar March 3rd in Omaha. The winner will take home a 2010 CAT Skid Steer valued at $32,000. All eleven contestants entered the contest with a $1500.00 entry fee. In return they receive $6000 in advertising in Watkins placed ads in the newspaper, magazines and on TV. Watkins also features all the contestants in their “Men of Hardscapes” calendar as well as in their showroom on their LCD screen and on their website. “We really appreciate the support Pavestone has offered for all our contests.” Lackovic added. “We could not have done this without them.”
Watkins will host the fifth contest this year. Emphasis will be placed on small scale projects to align with current economic conditions and homeowner preference. Research has found that homeowners are looking for a private, outdoor living area that is a quiet place to relax and get away.
Entries are now being taken. Projects must be in a 50 mile radius of Omaha, NE. Contact Lisa Lackovic at 402-896-0900 for more information. Also go to watkinsconcreteblock.com/ubc
Lisa and her team have done an outstanding job creating videos for the Watkins Ultimate Backyard Challenge. I have included one from 2008 below. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2009 winner.