For Brad Morton, vice president of Creative Rock Concepts, Inc., located in Laguna Beach, Calif., designing pools is second nature. He became involved in the pool industry as a designer and illustrator while putting himself through school studying architecture and product design.

"At the time I couldn't see how the convergence of school and my 'job' would someday come together and allow me the opportunity to establish and run a successful artificial rock company," Morton says.

This diversity in education and work experience allows Morton to think outside of the standard industry box, often times coming up with solutions to production methods and design challenges that would normally not have been considered—all of which comes in handy when he's creating exterior designs for his clients.

"Concrete is such a wonderful medium for artistic expression", Morton says. "Working the wet concrete as a three-dimensional medium is both challenging and rewarding. We can achieve results that mimic nature to the "T", as well as results that please the most discerning of clientele."

Morton and his partner, Creative Rock Concepts' president Duane Matekel, pooled their talents—Matekel is a landscape contractor with a knack for streamlining operations as well as their companies 40-something personnel—and, in 1995, when presented with the opportunity to merge their backgrounds together and start a sculpted rock company, they both jumped at the chance.

"At the time (1995) it was outside the norm, there was not as much information on the subject as there is today, and only a fraction of the companies were actually doing artificial rock as well," Morton explains of the work he and Matekel do. "(We) took the things that were working in the industry, discarded the archaic things that weren't working and came up with our own style."

As a result, the two men innovated ways to set up jobs that not only help their clients get a vision of the project very early on but also help to boost construction timelines as well. Morton adds that their processes are proprietary and cutting-edge.

While the way they work may be cutting-edge, what they're creating appears to have stood the test of time. Rock in nature, untouched or altered by man's hand, comprises some of the oldest structures known to man. Creative Rock Concepts continues to create a sense of history and solidity by creating a functional, believable sculpted concrete product that can fool the eye and also stand the test of time.

Especially now that there seems to be a trend towards the timeless elements, rock products, etc., that make up the ever-popular "old world" themes that they are installing daily. And right now, it seems everyone is asking for that "old world" theme.

Their clients are located mainly in the counties of Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside. "We stay very busy in our own back yard, and right now the push is for those (old world) themes," says Morton.

Morton says their ultimate goal is to create timeless work that's not out of style in five years, which he adds is (partly) achieved by not selecting trendy colors or potentially dated patterns, materials, etc. "We meld old world elements with a natural look...good-looking rock work is timeless work," he explains.

"We create a timeless, elegant environment with a sculpted rock theme as a central design element," Morton adds. He says that although some clients are pulling away from the full-blown "rock theme resorts", there are always ways to tie sculpted rock tastefully into a project.

Morton says he's also noticed an upswing in business whenever the economy is doing well, but that the company saw an increase after 9/11 as well. "People are spending more on homes and less on travel, and when property values increase--instead of buying a second home, a lot of our clients are sinking money into a residential resort...creating a vacation at home," he explains.

When Morton's not busy creating residential resorts for his clients, he's making dreams come true. His company has been involved with two projects through ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: the Tugwell family, where Morton created a backyard waterfall by an existing pool (a project Morton says took four to five days as opposed to a more "normal" seven to eight day schedule); and the Cadigan-Scott family, where Morton created interior castle rock walls for a bedroom, part of his new venture into extreme interior environments.

If you're wondering how Morton got hooked up with ABC, he credits the Internet. "The producer found us by doing a Google search," he laughs.

Creative Rock Concepts also specializes in remodels--refurbishing pools and creating rock environment, adding spas, barbeques, fire pits and the like. They also have a "sister" company, Rock Doctors (, which focuses entirely on both commercial and residential artificial rock refurbishing.

"(These) painted rock surface are exposed to elements and under water," Morton explains of the need for the service, which has even been used by the Southern California family theme park Knott's Berry Farm.

"Our process allows for alterations to be made at the inception of a project," Morton says. "Plus, we set up in a matter of hours, can work around a client's schedule, and work twice as fast as competing companies." All of which puts Creative Rock Concepts' work in high demand.

Creative Rock Concepts, Inc.
Brad Morton
20358 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 349-0875 Office
(949) 349-0873 FAX
(800) 242-6555 Toll Free
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