Pond Guy Reunion
Three years ago, when we profiled Greg Wittstock, known to many as the Pond Guy, he was building a $45 million company selling pond supplies. But the success of Wittstock's company, Aquascape Designs, came with a heavy personal price: a shattered relationship with his father and former partner, Gary, who left to found a competing company in 1997. For Gary, that decision also meant sacrificing his relationship with his two young grandsons. "It was hard for us to have a normal family life after my dad left," says Greg. Recently the Wittstocks began repairing their family ties. Greg's Aquascape acquired Gary's company, PondSweep Manufacturing, in February. Gary, who now has a job at Aquascape, says he is putting his future in good hands by keeping his company in the family. Perhaps more important, Gary has reunited with his son and grandsons. "I can finally go fishing with the boys whenever we want," he says. --Darren Dahl
A Tale of Two Flavored Waters
Last September, we wrote about J. Darius Bikoff, founder of Glacéau, a fast-growing beverage company that sells hundreds of millions of bottles of Vitaminwater annually and competes with industry giants such as PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes. Now Bikoff claims one of the big boys copied his product. In April, Glacéau filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo, alleging that its new SoBe Life Water is a "slavish knockoff" of Vitaminwater's packaging and contents. The suit also accuses PepsiCo of deceptive sales tactics, including encouraging salesclerks to stock Life Water in Vitaminwater display cases. PepsiCo says consumers should have no trouble distinguishing the two products. "This is just an overreaction by Glacéau to competition," PepsiCo spokesperson Michelle Naughton said in a statement. PepsiCo won't comment on Bikoff's claim that PepsiCo launched Life Water only after it failed in attempts to buy out Glacéau earlier this year. --Ryan McCarthy
Show Me the Movie Deal?
Leigh Steinberg, the sports agent who inspired Tom Cruise's role in Jerry Maguire and gave readers a lesson on negotiation in Inc.'s October 2004 "Ultimate How-to Guide for Business Owners," recently lost a star quarterback client. Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart dropped Steinberg in April, just two weeks before the NFL draft, to sign with Creative Artists Agency, which was handling Leinart's endorsement contracts.
CAA's foray into sports representation has signaled a consolidation trend in the industry that Steinberg admits he wasn't ready for. "I got rolled," he says. But Steinberg vows to become a part of the trend before next year's draft, possibly by hiring other agents who handle entertainment contracts. --Patrick Cliff