A big fish in the world of aquarium hobbyists, saltwater aquarium supplier Marine Depot was acquired by Bulk Reef Supply in July of 2021.
Founded in 1997, Marine Depot built an engaged following during its more than 20 years in operation. The company offered a popular educational blog for reef-building hobbyists and published a bi-annual catalog that was a mainstay of aquarium enthusiasts across the U.S.
Marine Depot also launched online sales before e-commerce was a common avenue for retailers, presenting founder Ken Wong with a series of challenges to overcome. Not only did Wong need to build a digital platform before services like Shopify existed but he also had to figure out warehousing, logistics, and server housing, he said in a Q&A on the company website.
Wong reflected that Marine Depot’s educational blog content — now widely known as content marketing — was an important avenue to attract customers.
“When I felt ‘I got something here’ was when customers would convey to me my information was helping them succeed or when they would tell me the product I helped them buy was the right choice for them,” Wong said.
When it came time to sell Marine Depot
Founded in 2007, Bulk Reef Supply is based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and provides a wide variety of supplies for hobby aquarists. Bulk Reef Supply — which also has grown a following by providing educational content for “reefers” or saltwater reef hobbyists — took on a “big massive influx of cash” from Bertram Capital, part of which enabled its acquisition of Marine Depot.
Several years before the acquisition, Ken Wong’s brother, Wayland Wong, succeeded him as the company’s CEO.
The deal officially closed on July 30, 2021, when Marine Depot ceased operations. The combined entity now operates as Bulk Reef Supply.
Since publishing this story, we’ve obtained additional information about the acquisition and added it to this story. The original version of this story attributed quotes from a Q&A to Wayland Wong instead of Ken Wong, who founded Marine Depot. Wayland Wong succeeded his brother, Ken Wong, as the CEO of Marine Deport several years before its sale in 2021. We share more about our reporting process here.