StreetScape Magazine > Business & Education > Creating a Backyard Resort

Creating a Backyard Resort

For the past three decades, Terry and Debra Harr have been in the business of beautifying the St. Charles, St. Louis, and surrounding areas with their custom concrete, pools, and other types of yard makeovers. Their company, Midwest Pool Builders & Stonecrafters, offers premium customer service, and an unheard-of guarantee. They have even attracted the attention of a local celebrity who hired them to give her yard a makeover. When Terry started his business, better known as The Yard Makeover People, he wanted to bring something new to the area, and create a way to channel his flair for customer service and his passion for landscape design.

While they can create concrete trees, waterfalls, and pretty much anything one can imagine, their specialty offering is custom swimming pools. Terry classified the pools they offer into three different groups: one-piece fiberglass, modular fiberglass, and gunite (concrete) pools. The benefits to the first category, the one-piece fiberglass, is that once it’s installed, it is done. Compared to other kinds of pools, it won’t need a replacement liner, for example. However, the size is limited to 18’ by 43’. On the other end of the scale are the gunite pools, which can be any shape and size, yet develop cracks and have to be resurfaced every few years. The best of both worlds is the modular fiberglass pool, because like the concrete pools, they can be any shape and size, and like the one-piece fiberglass pools, they don’t require regular maintenance. Additionally, the fiberglass pools come with a 50-year manufacturer’s warranty, which is transferable to the new owner if the house is later sold. Midwest Pool Builders is the only distributor in Missouri and Illinois to offer such a comprehensive warranty.

The Harrs find great satisfaction in installing pool packages, partly because of the resort feel they can create for clients. Debra, who joined the business later, speaks of those who aren’t able to travel to a resort, but who could really use a “staycation” of sorts. Perhaps they are dealing with illness, or their work schedules do not allow them to leave too long, but for whatever reason, these clients are not able to travel and want to give their yard a makeover and bring the resort feel to their backyard, quite literally. This is accomplished by adding such things as palm trees, a wine cellar, outdoor kitchens, waterfalls, fireplaces, or whatever the homeowner has in mind. Using their specialty concrete system, which is a patented process that they have trained to others, nearly anything is possible.

According to one client, Monica Adams of Fox 2, “They are amazing! Never in my life have I ever had a company that was so detailed, hardworking, and skilled at communicating. Whatever someone’s mind and heart can imagine, they can create. They definitely have that ‘wow!’ factor!”

Interestingly enough, Midwest Pool Builders has no showroom. When a potential client becomes interested in hiring them, the first stop is often another client’s finished yard. Instead of showing homeowners only pictures, allowing them to tour a finished yard is a breathtaking way to display what kinds of things are possible. The way Monica described their approach, they have a close enough relationship with their past customers, and their communication is developed enough, that previous customers are happy to let their yard serve as a life-size recommendation of their products and business.

Also included in the pre-construction process would be a tour of the potential customer’s existing yard so that the Harrs can get to know the people and what kind of topography they are working with. While the builders are scouting out the home’s current landscaping to see what can and can’t be done, they are also paying close attention to the owners to see what they like and don’t like about their yard, and what changes to suggest.

Potential customers aren’t the only ones getting ideas for yard makeovers, however. Terry and Debra themselves are always looking for new concepts and trends to offer to their clients. Debra speaks of her husband’s avid research tendencies, and how they both like to meet people who have new products or processes. They may find another creator who knows how to make a certain kind of free-form concrete or a fellow artisan who can make a kitchen top that looks like outdoor marble, for example. Sometimes their suppliers introduce new tweaks as well. In Debra’s words, they really do like to “get personal” with their suppliers and with their customers. With their suppliers and fellow builders, this helps them learn more about the trends and tricks of the trade. And for the clients, this close communication helps them make changes throughout the whole scope of the process so that every customer gets exactly what they want.

For example, when they were working on the Adams’ yard, they would have a basic plan they were following, but would encourage Monica and her husband to give feedback on a daily basis and adjust wherever needed. This is true of all their clients; however, they want each of them to feel the same sense of involvement and satisfaction, no matter what size of the project–large or small. This is yet another major benefit of hiring a small, family-owned company, and the rewards are there for the Harrs too–unlike some people, they love going to work each day. It’s satisfying to be able to create and be artistic and enrich the lives of others in the process.

To begin considering your own backyard resort, or even a yard makeover on a smaller scale with Midwest Pool Builders & Stonecrafters: The Yard Makeover People, contact Terry at 314-853-8330.

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