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Congratulations to Sam Gembel and his awesome team at Atlas Outdoor located in Burton Michigan, for winning the prestigious national Unilock Best in Show Award for 2019! Not only did they win this for the Michigan area, but their entry was also entered into the Unilock National Awards of Excellence competing with the other regional winners from the USA and Canada. Their project was selected to be the winner on the basis of design, function and quality of workmanship.

Sam, the president of Atlas Outdoor, shared his story with us on how this project come about and what it took to get it done.

It all started back in the fall of 2018, when one of his team leaders was at Starbucks in Davison, MI. when a woman stopped him and asked if that was his truck outside and if they did landscape construction. He promptly gave her his card and the rest is “history” as they say. Sam did mention that his love for Starbucks, and working on emails and proposals there has generated many great leads in the past and this project, their largest to-date, was no exception.

The property is backed on to a beautiful golf course in Davison, MI providing an awesome backdrop for the design. Their first sales call was challenging because this uniquely designed home was still in the midst of construction, so it was difficult to determine final grades and establish a design theme.

The client was adamant about two things when it came to the design, and both of these factors determined the scale and scope of the project.

First, the client loved to entertain very large groups of people, which meant having plenty of space.

Secondly, they did not want any grass in the backyard. Based on that, “We were able to include pretty much everything, including the kitchen sink”, said Sam.

Sam’s designer created a beautiful design in Uvision and the fly-through video was the clincher that sealed the deal. “Uvision made all the difference” said Sam.

The very useful design contained multiple water features, two fire features (one gas fire pit and a wood-burning fireplace), as well as a covered pavilion for the outdoor kitchen and bar. Smaller patios strategically positioned on varying levels, divided up the large expanses into cozy “rooms” to enjoy. Hundreds of LED lighting fixtures were added to keep the spaces looking just as good and safe at night as during the day.

When it came to product selection, Sam arranged a trip to his Unilock supplier, Rock Bottom Stone Supply for product selection. What started out as Brussels Dimensional Stone with Rivercrest verticals and Beacon Hill pavers, ended up becoming Lineo verticals and Umbriano pavers.

“It all happened so quickly. Once the customer saw these two products, their minds (well actually her mind) were made up”.

Construction started late in the fall of 2018 (almost winter) to prepare the property for occupancy. They even sodded the front lawn on top of the snow so their pet had a place to do its business the first winter. The main construction however began in the spring of 2019 and lasted approximately 4 months. In spite of the above average wet spring, they managed to be on site pretty much every day regardless of the weather.

Other challenges included the finished height of the pool and the height of the back steps but were easily overcome by some modifications in the design. They did experience an unusual hazard on the job…stray golf balls flying in. “We heard fore shouted several times per day” said Sam jokingly.

“The great thing about the scale of this project was that we were able to bring in many members of our team. Like on some of the planting and sod days, we had 15-20+ team members from multiple divisions working here.” Sam added. All in all the project went fairly smooth and the final result is absolutely spectacular. All those who worked on the project are extremely proud of this masterpiece.

Please join with us in congratulating Sam and the Atlas team for this awesome project!

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Be sure to enter into the 2020 Awards of Excellence for your chance to win this prestigious title and $5,000 prize plus you will get featured in a full page spread in the 2021 Unilock Catalog!