The road to Hermann Bach’s current business, Water in Transit, is paved with love, loss and adventure that started about 35 years ago, when the young man from Stuttgart, Germany, decided to take an overseas trip to
At the time, Hermann was a successful nightclub manager in the carefree times era of Donna Summer and the Bee Gees. But he was bored and craving adventure, so he boarded a jet to New York City with a backpack and his passport and headed for Cocoa Beach, which he had heard about from friends at the clubs. After a bad reaction to the yellow fever vaccination required for travel to the US forced a three week stay in Manhattan’s Red Light district, he finally headed south on a Greyhound Bus bound for Florida.
The bus went far further south than he planned, but he only realized his navigation miscalculation when he hailed a cab for Cocoa Beach from Miami the cabbie told him the fare: almost $600! He made it up anyway and fell in love with the beach lifestyle. Wanting to meet locals and learn English, he rented a small apartment and began working at a local nightclub as a bouncer. Eventually, after making contacts and friends and deciding this was going to be his new home, he returned to Germany to convince his girlfriend to join him in a new adventure: life in Cocoa Beach.
They married, bought a home and sought to start new careers in Florida. Remembering that a German acquaintance had bought the patent for interlocking paving stones in the US, he drove down to his office in West Palm Beach to check it out. Thinking it might be a great business to start in Brevard County, he became a licensed mason (number 35) and was contracted for his first job by Richard Hefley. (Richard now owns U Rent It in Merritt Island, and they are still in business after all these years!)
Hermann was the first paving stone installer in Brevard County, and he wrote most of the code that is still used in the industry today. His first office, “The Brickyard,” was in Cocoa Village. He bought the property with Tom Mills, an incredibly talented builder, who later became the Vice President of Holmes Regional Hospital. As time passed, the business grew and Hermann was contracted by a number of prominent companies including Kennedy Space Center, Florida Tech, BRPH, Downtown Titusville, and even the Courthouse in New Orleans. Angela served as the office manager (aka the boss) and they were a quite successful team, sometimes executing as many as 60 jobs per month.
In 1989, Hermann and Angela welcomed a baby boy, Sean, who is now a local Cordon Bleu Chef. They decided Angela should be a full-time Mom, so Hermann took over the business and life was good. Planning to return to work as Sean entered fourth grade, Angela was diagnosed with breast cancer. Without health insurance, the stress and financial losses were tremendous, but, somehow, they kept going. After a mastectomy, chemo and radiation, things took a turn for the better. They purchased a building in Melbourne and added a second location in Titusville a few years later. They were so busy they could barely keep up with the work.
Shortly after that, the housing market collapsed, and business began to dry up. Sometimes, they’d go two weeks without a phone call. They were forced to close the Titusville location and concentrate on the work in Melbourne.
Around that time, Hermann met Rafael Ramirez. “Raffa,” as he was affectionately referred to by Angela, became Hermann’s right-hand man in the paving stone business, and now is the construction supervisor in charge of the many demanding and challenging pool projects for the business Hermann created in 2004: Water in Transit quickly became Hermann’s passion.
Utilizing his unique European design sense and knowledge of architecture, he became a state-licensed residential and commercial pool contractor. He is a graduate of Genesis 3, a continuing education program that that focuses on the establishment of higher standards in swim-ming pool design and is considered a prestigious and respected accomplishment in the industry.
Hermann and Angela ran the pool and paving stone company together and slowly started to concentrate more on the pool side of the business. In 2014, Angela’s cancer returned, and after a brave battle, the disease took her life.
Hermann was devastated. He had lost his wife and partner of 30 years and found his passion and drive for the business waning. The devastating financial loss from medical bills even put his home in jeopardy. Times were difficult and Hermann was alone.
Months later, a chance encounter with friends Don and Julie Herndon, owners of Classic Wood Flooring, would signal another turn in the road for Hermann. After some prodding, they convinced him to accompany them on a double date with good friend, Gina Pierce, owner of Tuscany Grill in Suntree. Gina had been a single mom of five for the past two decades, was busy running a suc-cessful restaurant, and had not given much consider-ation to dating.
Once they met, though, everything changed. They quickly arranged a second date and things moved quickly. Within six weeks they were engaged, and soon after, they married. It was amazing how many mutual friends they shared, and about 100 of them joined in their wedding celebration aboard the Indian River Queen in Cocoa Village.
Hermann’s life went from basically being alone to suddenly having a huge family that adored and welcomed him. He is now proud Opah to many precious grand-children. And, at 72, he has added the title of “head busboy,” and spends his nights running around the restaurant with Gina!
Hermann’s newfound love rekindled his love of design and, before long, he was busier than ever with Water in Transit. In fact, the past two years have been the busiest so far. Hermann and Raffa, still working side-by-side, have designed and built some of the most amazing projects in the county: every project is a custom design, and always created to fit the lifestyle and taste of the homeowner.
Recently a local pool cleaning company representative told one of his customers
“you can always tell a Hermann Bach pool, they are always so unique, well-built and each one is simply stunning,”