ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Patrick L. Clasen came to SBA resource partner Lehigh University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a student with his partners Timothy Marks and Justin Lawyer to launch a manufacturing venture grown from their project, developed with the Lehigh University Integrated Product Development Program. The innovative VorTechTM coral reef aquarium pump design produces water flow with the pump motor outside the aquarium to reduce the need for cooling and ensure no electrical components touch the water.
Founded in 2003, EcoTech Marine manufactures and sells reef aquarium propeller pumps, LED lighting and accessories for aquariums ranging from 2.5 to 500+ gallons. EcoTech products are now supplied at hundreds of aquarium stores throughout the United States and to more than 30 countries around the world.
The company has received SBA-guaranteed loans and worked with SBA resource partner Lehigh University SBDC consultants, who helped EcoTech explore financing options to commercialize their technology and develop the financial and technical aspects of loan request presentations made to a local bank as well as federally-funded economic development agency.
“We are proud to have been awarded this honor,” said Clasen, co-founder of EcoTech Marine. “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. 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.”
U.S. SBA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho and Philadelphia District Director David Dickson officially presented the Eastern Pennsylvania and SBA mid-Atlantic Region’s Exporter of the Year to EcoTech Marine International, Inc. partners Patrick L. Clasen, Director of Finance; Justin Lawyer, Director of Research and Development and Timothy M. Marks, Director of Manufacturing.
“This has been another great year for the region for exporting and it’s an honor to recognize the accomplishments of our small business communities,” Olson-Urtecho said. “EcoTech Marine is an excellent example of a small business that starts, grows and goes on to success in the global exporting market. SBA and our resource and lending partners are proud to be a part of small business exporting success stories all over the world.”
“The SBDC is proud to have one of our clients be recognized as Region III SBA Exporter of the Year for the second year in a row,” said Pennsylvania SBDC State Director Christian Conroy. “EcoTech Marine utilized all of the resources at their disposal to start their company on solid footing and continues to work with the SBDC and its partners to continue to grow. We salute the founders of the company and our Lehigh University SBDC for their continued dedication to EcoTech’s success.”
EcoTech Marine International, Inc., was nominated by Cora Landis, Program Director, International Trade Development Program, Lehigh University SBDC.
“It’s been a privilege to work with EcoTech and help them grow from the initial three-person office in a little house down the street from Lehigh’s main campus, to being part of their grand opening when they moved into their current facility that houses 40+ employees, a clean room, research lab, manufacturing floor and corporate offices,” said Landis. “They have grown their international distribution network to more than 40 distributors, and they have utilized EXIM financing to offer credit terms to their distributors. Also important to their growth, they’ve been willing to learn from others and utilize all available resources – and are now willing to give back and help others. Beyond that, and something I personally regard highly is their willingness to stay the course, overcome many obstacles and rough it out those initial years. Congratulations EcoTech Marine International – you deserve this award!”
SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Exporter of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties. Mid-Atlantic regional winners are selected annually from the winning nominees in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C. These events are local observances of the annual Presidentially-designated National Small Business Week. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy.