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Profile: Deborah Lee Chapman, Waterscapes by Greenscape Pump

By Leslie McGuire, managing editor




The Rockwall Harbor project, a municipal project created by Greenscape Pump, is located on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall, Texas. Photos courtesy of Greenscape Pump


Deborah Lee Chapman, known by everyone as Deb, is the founder and CEO of Waterscapes by Greenscape Pump. She has just celebrated her 25th year in her business. Through the years of hard work and sound decisions, she has built her business from the ground floor into a thriving prosperous enterprise.

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Greenscape is a full-service design, build, and install service organization specializing in innovative water technology services. The company is certified by NCTRCA (D/M/WBE), SCTRCA (S/M/WBE) and the State of Texas (HUB). The headquarters is in the Dallas area with branches in South Texas as well.






Deb Chapman with her husband of 37 years, Tom Chapman. Early on, her husband joined her in the business, and working as a team worked well. He was always on the sales side, and was the public person. It's been a great 37 years, we're partners in every way, says Deb. Neither one of us would have been successful without the other.


When Deb first started the Waterscape end of the business in 1982, it was part time. She had a 5 year old and was a teacher in the high school. Her hobby was landscaping, so she went back to school to take classes in horticulture and design. At that time, the company name was Greenscape Pump and Irrigation. The business had started by selling irrigation pump stations as a sales and service entity. Deb and her husband Tom took their knowledge from the irrigation industry and applied it to the water features. Deb and Tom have been married for 37 years. It's been a great 37 years, we're partners in every way, says Deb. Neither one of us would have been successful without the other. As their company grew, their reputation grew and as a result, the Greenscape name was the recognizable one so they stuck with it.

Early on, her husband joined her in the business, and working as a team worked well. He was always on the sales side, and was the public person. When there was conflict on the job, she became the little lady. But now she doesn't encounter any problem with being a woman any more. The employees enjoy working for a woman. I use a velvet hammer. People are accountable, I insist on high performance and quality levels, but I try to do it more from an inspiring point of view rather than jumping up and down. The staff all have a mutual understanding of what's important to the company.






If the project is poorly engineered in the beginning, you really have to redo it from the very base level. We're not the cheapest, but it's pay now or pay later, says Deb. It's frustrating to try and educate the client to try and understand the difference. That's why we specialize in commercial and don't get involved in rescue missions.


Deb Chapman finds and hires experts as part of the total operation, and that's her strength. First and foremost, she's a business owner who has put together a staff of people who are experts in plumbing, electrical controls, engineering and finance. To be successful you really have to have good business acumen, not necessarily expertise in the general area, says Deb. I started a little itty bitty company with $300 in the bank. Over the years I've educated myself, been mentored by her staff and that made me a better business personÑbut it didn't happen overnight.

Each fountain design depends on the project. They get called in by landscape architects. Water feature is really an open term, says Deb. It can mean a fountain, waterfall, streambed, interactive fountainsÑthere are all levels of complexity from laser light shows to a little recirculation waterfall. We've specialized in the engineering side. We have very strong relationships with landscape architects and they want the water to do what they want.






First and foremost, she's a business owner who has put together a staff of people who are experts in plumbing, electrical controls, engineering and finance. To be successful you really have to have good business acumen, not necessarily expertise in the general area, says Deb. I started a little itty bitty company with $300 in the bank.


Greenscape has a mock-up facility where they can mock up weir flows, nozzle patterns, water flow against different surfaces with different kinds of light and make sure they get the effects they want. A mock up facility entails having a body of water, and we can simulate by the use of variable speed pumps they can simulate flows. If you have a rough textured building, what will it look like with an inch or a half an inch over the wall? What will it look like with LED lights? What colors will give what effects? The landscape architect can see it and determine what he wants.

In the back of the office, Greenscape has the ability to manufacture all kinds of different equipment. They have a project where the LA wanted the water to come out of spout in different patterns. They made different stainless steel spouts to, welding and fabricated the spouts to customize them.






Taken during construction this water feature is the far elliptical pool looking back at the Hunt Corporate building in Dallas. Centered in the basin are 30 programmed jets that will spray approximately 7 feet in spray height. Each jet will have two LED programmed lights. The west runnel feature will discharge into an upper basin alongside the west entry of the building, cascade down to two runnels that run parallel to each other and eventually come together to then run into yet another two tiered oval basin.


They act as a design partner and work all the way through the design process. As they go through the process, they also define the budget so there are no ugly surprises at the end. People don't realize what an investment it is to have one of these magnificent water features, says Deb.

Greenscape also developed its own line of Float-N-ProductsTM, including the patented Float-N-Screen¨ and Float-N-Foot Valve¨ designed to float the intake screen (or foot valve) off of the bottom of the lake – maximizing oxygenation and minimizing silt build-up on the turf grass. In addition, the Float-N-PumpTM and Skid-N-PumpTM enable the user to eliminate the installation of costly wet wells, pump vaults and above ground pump buildings.






We have never done two water features that are the same, says Deb. The Rockwall Harbor fountain looks like one water feature, but there are two separate pump systems. The bowl feature with the nozzles creates two lakesÑone potable water and one lake waterÑthat fall into each other. The water feature that uses the lake water makes use of a Skid-N-Pump, which sits in the lake and pumps water up to the weirs.


The floating product line was developed several years back when they were more in the golf course business, It was an off shoot of the pump business. Golf courses were often looking for floating fountains in the lake. Greenscape started building those products for the clients. Once they got into it, their expertise quickly became very important and they started working with commercial projects rather than just golf courses. Once we got into the commercial business we needed a whole set of internal controls for legal requirements and managing risks, says Deb. I needed to get several new staff members who had all the project management skills. Up until then it was much more casual, but at that point we needed signed change orders and all the other details required by commercial construction. The liabilities are greater as are the risks, but so are the rewards if you can successfully manage them.

Between the Houston Office, the Austen office and the Dallas office, they have over 50 staff members. As their reputation has grown, Deb has had to recruit people from all over the United States. There are very few people who are really knowledgeable about water features, says Deb. What we do is far more complex than simple ponds or fountains.






The Galatyn project was designed and built for the City of Richardson. It is centered between a public transportation depot, hotels, an Arts Center and business complexes. The feature is lighted, interactive and programmable. The fountain structure is capable of shooting water up to 80 feet in height and was built so fire trucks could drive over the granite-covered basin. The nozzles can operate in milliseconds, and this creates a very dramatic nozzle program.


Deb makes a point of touring all the installations. She wants to understand the complexity of the job and also what the staff has to go through. The staff takes a lot of pride and they like the inspection. As she takes a walking tour, they discuss the challenges and she learns from it and can therefore do a better job at managing future installations.

We have never done two water features that are the same, says Deb. They now have LEED projects they're getting in, such as recapturing water off the condensation off air conditioners, using cisterns and being environmentally minded with their water features.






The water feature at the front of the Hunt building has an elliptical fountain that flows from outside to an indoor reflection pool. This elliptical reflection pool is placed just inside the lobby, with a 360 degree infinity edge. The elliptical pool and interior reflection pool are both fed from the same equipment room located in the parking garage. The west runnel feature's equipment room is located in a room two floors below street level.


There's something about water that is very soothing to the soul. They do a lot of corporate buildings and hospitals. The water sound is a magnet. At Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas they did a little path that was below the ground surface with water walls around it to produce the sounds that engendered meditation. It was designed by Newman Jackson of Beaverstein Associates.

They are constantly challenged to come up with new and different solutions. On the Texas coast they wanted to use sea water from the bay for part of the water feature. But it's very hard to maintain the water quality. Salt water is corrosive, so the feature will have two separate systems. The top will be potable water and the bottom part of the feature will be recirculating sea water.






Deb makes a point of touring all the installations. She wants to understand the complexity of the job and also what the staff has to go through. The staff takes a lot of pride and they like the inspection. As she takes a walking tour, they discuss the challenges and she learns from it and can therefore do a better job at managing future installations.


I don't recommend avoiding lake filtration to cut corners. Using inexpensive or incorrect parts can lead to disasterÑpipes can crack under the concrete, all sorts of things can go wrong. I also don't get involved in rescue missions. If the project is poorly engineered in the beginning, you really have to redo it from the very base level. We're not the cheapest, but it's pay now or pay later, says Deb. It's frustrating to try and educate the client to try and understand the difference. That's why we specialize in commercial. We have expertise and won't cut corners, so we've walked away from a lot of projects because of that. I don't want our name associated with a murky green mess a year later.

Greenscape has a full service division. They warrantee and provide a service deptartment that takes care of it from that time forward. Clients aren't left in the lurch. She's very proud of the company. She often says, our success is because of our employees. My strength is probably being able to find and attract good people to the company and keep them, treat them with respect, and they will take a real sense of ownership. I'm more of an orchestra leader than anything else. Now I'm doing my best to lead it so we make the best music possible. I'm leading the band, but the band is making the music.






The rocks being laid in the runnel are small river stones set on edge to get a specific water effect. Mr. Hunt wanted the water effect to be the same from the top to the bottom, so Greenscape Pump had to engineer a way to maintain the water speed. At the bottom of the stream bed a fountain with a large water feature drains off the excess water and diverts back to the top.


Greenscape Pump's projects are usually sizable in cost, complicated in design and beautifully enhance the landscape around them. Among their big projects are The Harbor at Rockwall, Texas, the Galatyn Park Project, Richardson, Texas and the Hunt Corporate Headquarters, Dallas, Texas

They just completed Hunt Corporate Headquarters in Dallas, Texas makes a huge change to the defining lines of downtown Dallas. The Project has three features Ð The elliptical pool at the front of the building has an infinity edge on the entire perimeter of the pool with a granite false floor making the water depth in this pool appear to be three inches deep.

During the past twenty-five years, Greenscape has built a prestigious reputation as it expanded into signature fountains, waterfalls, water walls and streambeds. Clients include corporate headquarters, commercial development, municipalities, residential, architectural, churches, academic, medical, malls and shops, parks, restorations, hotels, and office complexes.


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June 26, 2019, 11:54 am PDT

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