Over the past 51 years, Air-O-Lator has sold thousands of aquarian aerators, fountains, de-icers and mixers. We’re proud to say that we still have many customers that purchased our equipment in 1968. Roy Watkins, President and CEO of Air-O-Lator, has been with the company since 1985. He’s built, shipped, and installed many units in 34 years. Over the years, he’s been able to meet people from around the country. But recently, a conversation with a customer turned into a spontaneous road trip and friendship.
An Old Aerator, A New Friendship
On Tuesday, July 16th, Roy received a call from one of our customers, Mr. Mike Mnich in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He called because his aerator stopped working and wanted to know what he needed to do to get it fixed. Roy pulled up Mike’s customer file and found that Mike purchased his Aquarian Professional in 1990. It was delivered to him via Greyhound bus for $10.00. It’s not unusual for Roy to speak with customers that have been with us for 50 years. But it’s not every day we hear from a customer that in the last 29 years we’ve only heard from once when they needed a single replacement part!
Fresh Water for Hungry Fish
Mike lives in rural Oklahoma, where he has a pond that’s about ¾ of an acre wide and 12-feet deep, in which he raises carp. They live for about 12 years, and many have grown to 52 pounds. These fish feed on the algae and duckweed in the pond. But when the aerator broke, the moss and duckweed built up and began to suffocate the fish. After talking to Mike, Roy determined it would be best for Mike to purchase a new Aquarian Professional Aerator without the float.
Mike jokingly asked if the price included installation. Roy asked Mike if he had anyone to help him install the aerator. Mike proudly replied that he and his wife had removed the existing aerator.
Removing the Aerator
To replace and remove their aerator, Susie and Mike decided to row out to the middle of their pond to take out the aerator.
“When we got in the boat and were stranded in the water, I was holding the pump in the boat, and my 87-year-old husband turned to me and said, ‘I’m going in!’” Susie, Mike’s wife, said.
“He hasn’t swum since college! He dove in the pond and swam across the pond. I didn’t want him to get back in the boat because I didn’t want to get in the pond,” Susie said, laughing.
“The interesting thing was the mental gymnastics we were doing—two old people sitting in a boat on the pond trying to figure out how to get the pump out. It was hooked to the anchors that go down to the bottom of the pond. Mike had to swim back, get the cutters to cut the anchors, and then detach the aerator from the anchors. We had to keep the aerator in the boat because we didn’t want to throw it back in the pond.”
A Visit to Oklahoma
After hanging up with Mike, Roy called his wife Peggy and told her that they were taking a road trip to Bartlesville, Oklahoma on Sunday. Roy called Mike back and told him that if he could wait until Sunday, Roy would personally deliver and install the new aerator. “I had to meet this couple and see this 29-year-old aerator,” Roy explained.
“We were just in awe that someone would come this far for the sole purpose of helping us put a new aerator in the pond,” Susie said of Roy. “The aerator works incredibly. There’s not a problem with it. It will forever be a great memory for us, one of those times when someone can touch your life and make you feel like you are such an important person. We can’t believe it. What a wonderful thing to do for someone! And it challenged us to pass it on and do something good for someone else. We’re so thankful for Roy and Peggy. They’re good people.”
The installation of the new aerator only took about 30 minutes, but Roy and Peggy were there for several hours visiting with Mike and his wife, Susie. Roy and Peggy were treated to a full lunch of ribs, corn on the cob and potato salad. Mike and Susie were so happy with the new aerator and were amazed at how much water it was moving. The propeller blades on the old aerator had worn down so much that the aerator was barely pumping any water before the motor locked up. Mike said that it had been years since he had seen the aerator move that much water.
“Every day I speak with and meet many people,” Roy said. “But last week, my wife and I had the privilege of making new friends.”
Sustainable Solutions for Years to Come
Mike has several big fish in his pond. Before he bought his Aquarian Professional aerator, he was continually dealing with varieties of duckweed that blanketed his pond and made it hard for the fish to breathe, and some even died.
“After having to clean up three barrels of dead fish, I decided I didn’t want to play that game anymore, so that was the initial reason for buying the aerator (29 years ago),” Mike said.
The aerator enables the water to come up through the float and pushes the pond weeds away.
“When you turn the aerator on, within five minutes it can move all the water meal duckweed whatever direction—north or south—to clear off the water,” Mike said. “Usually I run it for 12 hours. The fish get a chance to live more normally, and it replenishes the water in the pond.”
In the 57 years Mike and Susie have lived on their land, they’ve had all different kinds of maladies, he said. “That’s the reason for the aerator. It’s like going to the doctor when you’re sick and getting a shot. It clears it all up! That’s what Roy and Air-O-Lator have done for me.”