Fishkeeper Scotland constantly strive to ensure their stores are providing the best service and products for our customers, so we were delighted when JBL invited us to their headquarters near Frankfurt, Germany this week as it gave a great insight into their production operation and a behind the scenes look at how some of the products on our shelves are manufactured.
JBL started in 1960 when Joachim Böhme opened a small specialist pet shop and developed a remedy named “Punktol” for the treatment of white spot disease. The company now supply a huge range of over a thousand products to more than 60 countries worldwide while still maintaining an emphasis on researching fish habitats.
A group of 16 of our store managers and fishkeepers flew to Frankfurt and were bussed to a hotel near Mannheim. Monday morning kicked off with some training from Heiko Blessin – a biologist who also works as JBL’s marketing director and expedition leader. We discussed the importance of CO2 supplementation in planted aquariums and how their pH controllers can have a positive effect on fish from different regions that are suited to different water parameters. Another issue discussed was ProPond and how the difference between spring and autumn foods can benefit pond fish. It is important that the immune system of fish is strengthened during these seasons, but they require very different things from food in spring than they do in autumn. ProPond’s Spring and Autumn foods solve this problem – by allowing accurate ratios of protein to fat at the correct level to ensure the best health for pond fish. More information can be found on this fascinating subject on this JBL website here.
Inside JBL’s warehouse
JBL aim to be environmentally friendly in every aspect of their business: we noticed the solar panels on the roof, energy efficient company cars and bio-filters in the factory. They offer refill packs of Biotopol (a water conditioner) in bags instead of the usual plastic bottles, which saves 94% of CO2 during transport. It was very exciting to be given a tour of their recently expanded factory. Our group was totally engaged whilst watching NovoTabs and NovoBel being produced in-house and observing the high standard their products must reach before being shipped to a store.
NovoTab on the production line in JBL’s factory
We certainly saw JBL’s motto “Ahead through research” in practice when we entered their research centre. This is where experienced scientists were putting a large selection of products through their paces to make sure they live up to the firm’s high standards. They also cooperate with some of the leading scientific institutions in Europe in order to receive the most accurate information possible.
Large planted aquarium inside the JBL offices
JBL undertake worldwide expeditions to native habitats of ornamental fish and terrarium animals to carry out important field research. They will be visiting Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles in 2018 to observe some wonderful animals and sights such as whale sharks and coral reefs! Information about this trip to the Indian Ocean and how to apply to join them can be found here.
Large Discus display at a pet shop in Mannheim
We spent our last day travelling around pet shops and local fish stores in Frankfurt to see how the German market differs to the UK. There were many exciting species, including huge Arowana, stingrays and a wide selection of corals! Planted aquariums are very popular in Germany and therefore it was no surprise that the plant section in every store was impressive! Also available was also a large selection of shrimp and freshwater lobsters. The large Koi ponds at the entrance of some of the stores were both amazing and completely unforgettable.