Re: Amano discussion

The continued discussion on commercial available prepared plant additives
has induced me to also put in my two cents worth.  Let me first say I have
no ax to grind with any of the aquarium products manufacturers.  I build or
assemble as much of my own equipment, fertilizer, additives, etc. as I
possibly can but not as any kind of revolt against manufacturers.  When I
can build cheaper and gain the satisfaction of enjoying my own work I do so.
There are however a couple of additional reasons for some of this activity.

The first of these is the performance of the product.  If the history of
manufacturing has shown anything, it is that there is no universal product.
While Dupla drops or Amano or Tetra or anyone else who manufacturers an
additive may work well on some or even most of the setups and work to some
extent on nearly all set-ups, they will work best on only a few
installations. Differing fish, fish numbers, plants both type and number,
differing water quality etc. Means no one product can deliver best
performance for all installations.  For a top quality display the aquarist
must tweak his own aquarium.  How is he to do that if he doesn't know what
he is adding.

The second is how permanent is the manufacturer.  Everything dies and in
management classes one of the first rules taught is a company must grow or
die.  In 1978 I went to work for Mostek; the worlds largest manufacturer of
computer memory integrated circuits.  In 1986 the company ceased to exist.
How does the aquarium business compare with the TV business.  In 1990 the
company I work for had 85% of the worlds market sewed up; under contract; no
competitors.  This market segment was so small compared to the rest of it's
business that the company dumped this market in favor of one with a better
return.  The reason; no company has the resources to do everything.  Some
things must go.  The point I am making is that on the world market, the
aquarium business is small potatoes.  Nothing guarantees even the biggest
manufacturer will be in business tomorrow.  Several years ago I discovered
Aurora bath tissue.  I loved it.  It was a product that exactly fit my
needs.  Time passed and one day my wife came home with a different brand.  I
asked her why and she said she couldn't find any Aurora.  She went to every
store in town.  Aurora was no more.  My behind has never completely recovered!

Basing a business on a secret formula is suicide.  It is poor management.
This is building your house on sand.  For this approach to work, the company
must make an acceptable selection of additives to the additive plus all the
necessary test kits including one for potassium,(possible or not) so the
customers who desire to do so can tweak their setup.  This also has to be at
a price that the consumer will accept.  This does not have to be cheap
however.  Research has shown that quality is more often rated higher than

By diversifying a company can better insure it's permanence.  Companies like
Tetra have made themselves more stable not just offering a single product
line such as fish food or fertilizer or any other single product.  Better
yet to insure a long life is not to depend on just one market.  This is why
the business of most modern tobacco companies is no longer in just tobacco.

I've worked for a lot of companies in 40 years.  I've found none that were
evil or really greedy.  I have found that all are run by humans and humans
make mistakes and managers seem to make more than their share.  There is one
thing I have come to believe.  All companies are incompetent.  It is just a
matter of who is least incompetent.

Ai Capp, the creator of L'il Abner used a character he named General
Bullmoose to parady General Motors.  He was fond of saying, "What's good for
General Bullmoose is good for the country!"  The paradox is that this is
really true.  What is good for a business is good for it's workers, it's
customers and it's community.  Unfortunately, to many managers confuse short
term profits with what is good for the company.  If any action that produces
good short term profits also causes the death of the company it was a bad
choice.  Secret formulas by themselves are just bad business!

Onis Cogburn
k5vkq at ix_netcom.com