October 8, 2013

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Bringing a second major league sports team into Utah always seemed like an...Read More

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Around Utah
Around Utah


Unexpected Neighbors

Local Businesses That Might Take You by Surprise

By Peri Kinder

October 8, 2013

“[We] do good work. Our company is built on reputation and word of mouth. We always make sure we do it right,” he says.

When the economy tanked, projects across the globe helped keep the company afloat—especially in China, where recreational activities are growing in popularity. “Recreation in China is going crazy. Their middle class is exploding. During the last 10 years, 250 million people have moved from rural to urban areas, and they all want something to do.”

ClowardH20 has designed some very original water features. It was the first to put a waterslide underwater through an aquarium tank, and it created a pool for a private residence in the Bahamas that features an island and an underwater cave that opens up into a home theater. The company even designed a clear-bottomed pool to hang off the side of a hotel, several stories above the ground.

Even though the business is in high demand around the world, there are no plans to leave the state—just the intention to keep creating jaw-dropping, splash-tastic, inspirational water adventures. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our work. When you flip the switch—it works. And it will work for years to come.”

Deep Blue Marine

Wilf Blum’s business is headquartered in Sandy, but his commute is ridiculous—nearly 3,000 miles to the coast of the Dominican Republic. His office consists of 50 miles of ocean along the North Shore. And instead of a suit and tie, Blum dons diving gear as he scours the ocean floor for shipwrecks scattered along trade routes established by Christopher Columbus.

Blum is a professional treasure hunter. His company, Deep Blue Marine, has recovered thousands of artifacts that have been sitting in the ocean for hundreds of years, and to date, he has found 22 shipwrecks.

“The Dominican Republic is where the New World started, and the North Shore was like I-15,” Blum says.

Mayan statues, loaded cannons, buttons and shoes, kitchenware and silver bars have all been dragged to the surface during Blum’s excavations. Artifacts are meticulously photographed and catalogued before half of those items are shipped to the government. The other half is shared with the company’s investors.

This length of ocean (known as Hurricane Alley) is treacherous due to massive winter storms and brutal summer hurricanes. Hundreds of ships capsized in the waters near the Dominican Republic, and Blum has been searching for these wrecks since 2007. His 50-mile lease along the North Shore will expire in a couple of years, but until then he plans to continue diving nearly 15 days every month.

Some people have criticized Blum, saying the ships—and the bounty—should be left alone, but Blum says mercury, lead and other toxins from the wrecks are leaching into the sea, damaging reefs and aquatic life.

“If people really understood the ocean’s ecology, they’d be begging for us to go get those shipwrecks out of the water. A shipwreck in 10 to 15 feet of water destroys the coral. But deep-water wrecks are OK. The Titanic isn’t going to hurt a thing.”

In fact, he sees an increase in fish activity within days of a wreck being cleaned up.

He doesn’t plan on staying in the treasure hunting business for much longer—and actually, he sees the industry dying in the next five to 10 years. After that, he wants to build artificial reefs to help the oceans heal.

Back in the ‘70s, when he started diving, Blum encountered an abundance of sea life, fish and coral. Now when he dives, he wonders where all the reef life has gone. And as pollution builds up on the ocean floor, he worries about the future of the oceans.

“I want to be more than just a treasure hunter. I want to leave the planet a better place,” he says. “Reefs can be made from dead and live coral, and composite materials. It’s going to change everything. We can build a marine environment specific to different types of fish.”

Walrus Woodworking

When John (Jack) Sundberg selects a piece of wood for a new project, he doesn’t choose carelessly. As a master woodworker, Sundberg’s projects are built for posterity, handed down from generation to generation.

Sundberg is the owner of Walrus Woodworking, a shop dedicated to promoting quality, craftsmanship and detailing, while still providing furniture that fits today’s modern lifestyles. Sundberg’s wife, Ruth, started the business on July 5, 1973 as a birthday present to herself, and Walrus Woodworking changed locations several times before finally landing in the Kamas Valley, in the city of Oakley.

The couple created hundreds of museum-quality furniture items, drawing from an eclectic array of design styles, from Edwardian to Art Deco. With a focus on the finer points of construction, the Sundbergs developed a reputation for creating inspiring pieces that could be passed down as family treasures. In fact, one client told Sundberg, “You’ve just given us something our kids are going to fight over.”

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