The industry suffered a great loss when Lance Reyniers, a lifelong aquarist who founded Python Products in 1984, passed away on April 1 with his family by his side.
Of the many personalities in the pet industry, Reyniers was one that I simply describe as “stubborn,” but it was an admirable quality that caused me to respect the man and realize his dedication to his company and his passion for the pet industry. I’ve seen and chatted with him at several trade shows, including Aquatic Experience, which led us to publish a Five Questions profile on him in the January issue of Pet Age.
After learning of his passing, I wanted to better understand what he and his aquarium-maintenance tools meant to the pet industry. Michael Lasky of Schiaffino, Lasky & Associates was with Coralife when he met Reyniers, but truly got to know the man when they were both on the World Pet Association (WPA) board of directors.
“He had a rough exterior,” Lasky laughed. “He was incredibly opinionated, yet once you got past all that, he had a heart of gold. He wanted to do what’s best for everyone.”
Reyniers was a patriotic man, an Army veteran who was proud that his products were made in the United States, and Python stood for quality in the aquatic sector of the industry. Instead of flooding the market with needless SKUs, Reyniers focused on developing solution-based products that solved a problem for fishkeepers.
“There are very few brands in the industry that when you say the name of the company, you know exactly what it is,” Lasky said. “When you say Python, you know it’s a very high quality syphon and tank cleaner. If you bought one of his products, the only reason you’d buy another was because you needed another for a different application.”
Reyniers was not content sitting behind a desk. He could often be found working trade shows, including consumer events like America’s Family Pet Expo. Although Python manufactured products for aquarists, Reyniers cared about the betterment of all pets, and not just aquatic livestock.
“He worked incredibly hard at our consumer events,” Lasky noted. “He would arrive early and stay late to build aquariums and ponds to make the events the best they could be. One of my fondest memories of him was when he walked around the show with a big snake around his neck, and he used that as an educational device for kids,” Lasky reminisced. “If somebody came to one of our consumer events and went away knowing more about pets or wanting a pet who didn’t have a pet, that was his idea of success.”
That dedication is why Reyniers deserves to be recognized and remembered by the pet industry. According to Lasky, who is head of the WPA awards committee, Reyniers was unanimously voted into the WPA Hall of Fame this year.
“We were able to get ahold of Janet (Reyniers’ wife), who was able to get that to Lance,” Lasky said. “It is incredibly well deserved.”
Janet Reyniers was moved by the gesture, as she understands the importance of her husband being appreciated and respected by his peers.
“He has touched millions of lives, but he never felt that acknowledgement from the industry,” she said. “The industry lost someone who was larger than life. He was so passionate. I miss him so much.”