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A Look Back: San Francisco Bay Brand

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Today, I disconnected my home phone with AT&T and felt it was the end of an era. What a major impact the AT&T phones had on America.

There are just a few things we can look back on in the pet industry and feel emotionally about the same way. Welcome to San Francisco Bay Brand. This brief history tells their story about developing the nutritious fish foods that are available today. Go into any pet store, almost anywhere, and you’ll find either frozen or live brine shrimp for fish food.

Most tropical fish hobbyists recommend it, but few today have any idea of how using brine shrimp as fish food began.

It all started in 1934, as the curator of the famous Steinhart Aquarium in California discovered that live brine shrimp from the sunny San Francisco Bay made an excellent fish food. The natural food value of the shrimp plus its consistent taste appeal was an unbeatable combination.

At the outset, only a few gallons of the small crustacean were collected weekly by members of the San Francisco Aquarium Society and fed to the aquarium fishes. Yet, this small operation would give rise to the San Francisco Bay Brand company of today with its complete line of frozen and freeze-dried diets, including the original Sally’s Brine Shrimp, Enhanced Brine Shrimp varieties, Sally’s Single Ingredient Fish Foods, Natural Formulated Diets and Sally’s Brine Shrimp Eggs.

In 1964, the Steinhart Aquarium and Leslie Salt formed San Francisco Fish Farms and began selling live brine shrimp to tropical fish hobbyists. In 1965, Aquarium Pacific finalized its merger with East Coast Manufacturers, which sold the GroLux, Wellness and Long Life brands, among others, and formed what was known as Metaframe Corporation.

Metaframe Corporation also purchased West Coast Operations, which was the parent company for Pemco Manufacturing in Los Angeles, which made aquariums and San Francisco Fish Farms in 1968.

Harding Willinger once told me that Anton Schmidt was extremely passionate about brine shrimp, saw the potential and just needed a vehicle to deliver it nationally. Harding provided that vehicle while at Mattel.
In 1969, Mattel, Inc., a toy company, purchased Metaframe Corp. and San Francisco Bay Brand, Inc.

Mattel ran Metaframe for several years. The company made some great strides and even advertised in LIFE magazine. Things went well until a dock strike changed Mattel’s fortunes in the middle of the 1970s, and Mattel divested all of the divisions of Metaframe by

1979, leaving San Francisco Bay Brand under the Schmidt family ownership.
In 1955, Anton Schmidt and his family emigrated from Germany to the United States. Anton Schmidt, having been trained as a tool and die maker, found employment in a small firm in Los Altos, Calif., repairing aquariums. Schmidt and his wife, Martha, worked there for two years before opening their own business.

Two years later in 1957, he opened Schmidt’s Aquarium and proceeded to make stainless custom and production aquariums until the merger with  Metaframe in 1965.

After purchasing the company from Mattel in 1979, Anton Schmidt started to work in the aquaculture field. People he had met in the UC system of California and others were all interested in the use of Artemia in the commercial shrimp-farming industry, which was gaining notoriety worldwide, with companies such as Cargill, Coca-Cola and ConAgra, just to name a few.

In 1979, Andreas Schmidt came back to the company and operated the San Diego, Salt Lake and Salton Sea facilities, which supported research and harvest support for SFBB’s aquaculture business.
One thing led to another and after working in South America, China, the Middle

East and other locales throughout the world by the mid-80s, Anton Schmidt was instrumental in making brine shrimp a staple diet in the aquaculture industry in 38 countries.

In 1988, San Francisco Bay Brand started to develop a line of Natural Formulated Diets to complement the current line of Sally’s Single Ingredient Fish Foods.

From the beginning, as the demand for brine shrimp continued to increase, research projects were initiated to develop several convenient forms of highly nutritious natural products. Throughout the 1990s, they did this by developing a line of Natural Formulated Diets to meet fishes’ specific needs equivalent to their diets in the wild, while also expanding our Sally’s Single Ingredient Fish Foods, to include Bloodworms, Silversides, Sand Eels, Mussel, White Mosquito Larvae, Squid and Beefheart.

In 1992, Andreas Schmidt became president of San Francisco Bay Brand, Inc. Andreas has continued to be a leader in serving the pet industry and striving to provide the best all-natural diets available for the aquatic hobbyist, zoos, hatcheries, aquariums and aquaculture industries. Andreas Schmidt has served the pet industry serving 17 years, finishing after a term as the president of The World Wide Pet Supply Association and president of the Pet Care Trust Association from 1999 to 2003.

You can search our industry and find very few companies still being operated by the original founding family by a second generation.
Andreas Schmidt is as passionate as his father and works tirelessly to supply high-quality tropical fish food every day. His service with the WPA board is a testimony to his love of the pet industry. This company is a prime example of an American entrepreneurial success story.

-Philip M. Cooper

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