The Tenecor Story

Tenecor was established in the late 1970's and was a small garage operation making basic stuff such as napkin holders, shields, guards and business card dispensers. We wanted to diversify and figured fish tanks would be a pretty good market.

No one was making acrylic aquariums back then, only glass. How hard could it be to make a fish tank out of plexiglass? It was a lot harder than we thought.

Stand back! We're gonna fill it.

Our first tanks were comically tragic. We started out trying to put them together with superglue which turned out to be a very bad idea. We got wet often. After a lot of trial and error, we eventually figured out our processes and started turning out some very nice aquariums.

Simplicity AIO. The game changer.

The turning point in our early years was when we decided to build a wet dry filter into the back of the tank itself. Back then the phrase "AIO" did not exist and putting the filter inside the tank was not easy since acrylic aquariums have tops as well as bottoms. It was like building a ship in a bottle. It still isn't easy and that is why very few companies will even try it. In glass tanks you can very easily silicone in some pieces for a simple baffled AIO. If you make a mistake, just take it apart and start over. Not so with acrylic. Once the pieces are bonded, they cannot be taken apart.

Internet? What's that?

Back in 1980 there was no internet. All of our growth was from word of mouth and referrals. People heard about this company in Arizona that builds aquariums with all in one built in filters. The appeal of the Tenecor Simplicity aquarium was the same back then as it is now: No holes to drill or worry about leakage. Best of all, they were a great value.

Running out of room. Again. And Again.

From a small single car garage we moved into a much larger building and soon moved yet twice again to an even larger space. To keep up with demand a second shift was added and then a third. Business was growing by leaps and bounds. During the early eighties, Tenecor was the second largest buyer of acrylic west of the Mississippi, only behind this airplane company called Boeing. 

Our top seller was a small AIO we called the "Model 8" It was, as the name implied, a small approx. 8 gallon tabletop saltwater tank. We were selling about 200 of them every day. The big tanks also sold well. Every Friday afternoon, two, and sometimes three, semi trucks of aquariums would ship to stores from coast to coast.

Dad joins the company.

Our father also was a big part of our success. He was an aeronautical engineer by training and worked for over 25 years in the defense industry. In his later years, Parkinson's took its toll on his body but not his mind. He joined Tenecor around year 7 and he designed many of the fixtures and machines we used to build our tanks. One of our biggest competitive advantages was how the production lines could go from a twenty gallon to a 120 gallon and back to a 40 followed by a 65 without any downtime or retooling. It was pretty impressive.

The big stuff.

We also got very good at building big tanks, 500 gallons and up. The pieces in an acrylic fish tank are chemically welded bonds. Joining them together in a small forty gallon tank is one thing. When you are dealing with the big stuff, it is a completely different ball game. This is where our engineering backgrounds came in very handy.

A personal tragedy.

Dad died of a heart attack in 1994. By then Tenecor was firmly established as the leading manufacturer of acrylic aquariums. About the same time, an up and coming Phoenix based retailer asked us to evaluate their store systems. They told us they were going public soon and would need several hundred of them. The company was PetSmart. We designed their systems and built several of their stores.

Tenecor is sold. Twice.

Tenecor was sold after dad's death around 1994. The new owner had an extensive industry background in advanced composites and he took Tenecor to even higher levels of success. He ran the company from 1994 to about 2008 when it was sold again. Apparently, things did not go too well for the third owner who shut down the company about a year later.

Tenecor is back.

Over 40 years later, one of the original founders has resurrected Tenecor. He always enjoyed the business and after a very successful career in health care manufacturing and several startups, he is once again building fish tanks. A new Arizona production facility has been constructed. Custom production equipment has been designed and built. Team members are being recruited. Once again, Tenecor is leading the way designing and building the aquariums no else can.

One of the first PetSmart store systems we designed and built. They still use our designs today.
A typical 550 gallon with tower overflow. We also incorporated a reverse flow undergravel filter into this one. Notice the canopy has no electrical drop from the ceiling. The power supply runs up inside the overflow through a built in dry raceway.
The first Simplicity corner pentagon. We thought day glow baffles would be pretty cool. Turned out, they were very popular.
An original Model 12 Aqua Dome with built in filtration. It is still running after 40 plus years! The only thing replaced was the new LED light. Even the original powerhead is going strong.