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EcoTech Marine Pumps Up Its National Profile

By LVEDC Staff on May 13, 2014

The EcoTech management team is comprised of Tim Marks, director of manufacturing; Justin Lawyer, director of research and development, and Patrick Clasen, director of finance.

The EcoTech management team is comprised of Tim Marks, director of manufacturing; Justin Lawyer, director of research and development, and Patrick Clasen, director of finance.

EcoTech Marine has reeled in yet another impressive accolade. The company that produces high-tech saltwater aquarium equipment at its Hanover Township, Lehigh County facility was recently named Small Business Exporter of the Year by the Small Business Administration’s Philadelphia District office.

The award positions EcoTech as a contender for a national honor.

“We are proud to have been awarded this honor,” Patrick Clasen, co-founder of EcoTech Marine, told LVEDC. “As a small business – now in our 11th year – we have tremendous respect for the unique challenges presented to a business like ours, as well as for the other entrepreneurs chasing their dreams to make their own success.”

Clasen added, “It is incredibly humbling to have been selected for this award knowing so many other businesses that are doing such great things. It is a true honor to have been selected for this designation and it is one that we will take to heart as we continue to grow and evolve.”

The Exporter of the Year honor is significant because EcoTech was named as a winner both for the Philadelphia District and Mid-Atlantic region. That makes the company a contender for national SBA recognition.

The EcoTech management team is comprised of Tim Marks, director of manufacturing; Justin Lawyer, director of research and development, and Clasen, director of finance.

LVEDC became acquainted with these fine young gentlemen before they made waves in the business world through the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program.

Marks met Lawyer through the Internet community of saltwater aquarists and the two spent years making aquarium equipment out of their basements before their business model jelled. Marks met Clasen at a place where smart, innovative people tend to congregate – Lehigh University – and after deciding that fish really could help three guys take over the world, they combined their lifelong fascination in marine biology with a passion for high-tech equipment and leveraged those interests into the rocket that has become EcoTech Marine.

“The EcoTech team sought advice and support from a wide range of resources around the Lehigh Valley and they were able to tap the Innovation Ecosystem available to them,” noted Bill Michalerya, vice president of government relations and economic development at Lehigh University. “Also, they moved very quickly to sales revenue, which allowed them to grow without a lot of dependence on outside investors. That was probably a plus in keeping them focused.”

Today EcoTech Marine is a step ahead of the competition when it comes changing the way people think about aquarium technology and have set new benchmarks for reef aquarium equipment. The Vor Tech pump, the Radion family of LED lighting, the ReefLink – all EcoTech products make you look pretty smart to the fellow hobbyist.

Cora Landis, program director for the Small Business Development Center’s International Trade Development program at Lehigh University, nominated EcoTech for the SBA award. She had plenty of good reasons.

“The growth in exports of course would be number one,” she told LVEDC. “But their diligence in pursuing international distributors and the fact that they have been successful in not only growing their international distribution base, but also they are working with EXIM bank which enables them to offer credit terms to their distributors.”

Landis was also swayed with the team’s energy and thirst for knowledge.

“Their willingness to learn from others and their hunger for knowledge is part of their continued success,” she added. “Their willingness to reach out to all available resources and accept their assistance in the areas outside their expertise. They have taken advantage of all the available local economic development agencies assistance programs and they have credited that assistance to their success.”

Landis was also impressed that Marks, Lawyer and Clasen all stuck with it – even when they didn’t have a reason to stick it out.

“Their willingness to stay the course and rough it out those initial years overcoming many obstacles was important,” said Landis. “They didn’t start out in plush surroundings – they made do with what they had. I respect that.”

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