Pet Age spoke with Fritz Industries specialty sales manager Mike Noce about the brand’s arrival into the aquatic pet category and its sustained success as a supplier for aquaculture hobbyists and professionals alike.
Nicole Gifford: How did Fritz get started in the aquatics market?
Mike Noce: Fritz Industries was founded by chemist and entrepreneur Fredrick “Fritz” Weisend in 1956. Fritz was an avid aquarium hobbyist. He was dissatisfied with the aquarium products on the market in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, and felt he could provide innovative products of superior quality. Fritz pioneered research into nitrifying bacteria that would quickly and naturally remove the ammonia and nitrite from aquatics systems during setup. The resulting product line, FritzZyme, remains a staple in today’s professional aquatics industry. Today, Fritz Aquatics manufactures hundreds of products serving both the hobbyist and professional aquatic markets. We still have a passion for development and innovation.
Nicole: What sets Fritz Aquatics apart from other aquaculture product manufacturers?
Mike: It is a specialty division of Fritz Industries, a chemical and biological manufacturer that serves several industries. We are heavily driven by research and development, and our primary markets include aquatics, wastewater, aquaculture, agriculture and oilfield. Our broad range of manufacturing operations allows Fritz Aquatics access to personnel, equipment, research and infrastructure resources that many of our competitors do not have. The quality of Fritz products also sets us apart from our competition. Our products are produced in an FDA approved facility and Fritz Industries recently achieved ISO 9001 quality certification.
Nicole: What products of yours are most popular? Why do you think that they are so popular?
Mike: Fritz remains a world leader in the manufacturing of nitrifying bacteria, so our FritzZyme brand of biological products are what most of our customers think of when they see the Fritz name. Since acquiring the Mardel and AP brands, products like CopperSafe, Quick Cure, Crystal Clear and the Maracyns are quickly becoming the most popular. They continue to gain popularity because they are effective and perform as advertised.
Nicole: Do you find that aquaculture professionals and hobbyists have significantly different needs of your brand?
Mike: It might surprise you that the chemical and biological products that are required to operate a large shrimp aquaculture company or public aquarium are very similar to that of someone with a reef tank or even a betta bowl. Obviously, the scale of application is much different, but the core products remain the same and professionals and hobbyists experience the same issues. For example, we offer our Reef Pro Mix Sea Salt in 14 pound bags for the hobbyist market, but one large aquarium in the U.S. recently purchased over 1.5 million pounds of sea salt that had to be delivered in 44,000 pound pneumatic trucks! The professional side is not swayed by flashy packaging or exaggerated bullet points on labels. Experienced biologists and chemists know what works and are sold on quality.
Nicole: What is a typical day like for you?
Mike: The Mardel acquisition has made this a very busy year. Many people are not aware that Fritz manufactures private label products for other companies and was manufacturing the Mardel line of products as a private label for Sergeants for several years. Being able to publicly associate the popularity and quality of Mardel with Fritz Aquatics has brought about a huge resurgence in the awareness and popularity of the Fritz brand. I frequently get phone calls and emails from dealers who fondly remember the Fritz name and look forward to offering the brand to their customers.
Nicole: Why do you think that the company has been a success for over 30 years?
Mike: Fritz himself was an inventor and was always looking to develop products that were unique and cutting edge. He pioneered many of the products that are staples in the aquarium industry today. I feel the spirit of Fritz is still alive and well today within our company.
Nicole: What new products are on the horizon for Fritz Aquatics?
Mike: 2016 should be a very busy year for us. For the hobbyist market we recently released our new complete marine salt blend, Reef Pro Mix, which we are very proud of. We will also be releasing several new reef chemical products as well as several new formulas that share the patented technology of the Mardel “Shield” line of reef safe herbal treatments.