Tropical Seas – An Interview With Daniel W. Knorr

by | Feb 27, 2018 | Health & Medical

Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: Tropical Seas is the manufacturer of Reef Safe Sun Care products, which are the only sunscreen that has been scientifically proven safe to coral by Mote Marine Laboratory. In addition Reef Safe products have been scientifically proven in Independent Eco-Laboratories to biodegrade in Ocean, Lakes & Rivers as well as are safe to sea life and Bait Safe.

Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: Daniel W. Knorr
President, CEO, Owner of Tropical Seas Inc.

Mr. Dan Knorr is the President, CEO and Owner of Tropical Seas, Inc., which he founded in March 1988. Tropical Seas, Inc. manufactures a full line of biodegradable skin and hair care products sold to water sports related industries as well as tropical resorts.

A 30-year veteran of the Health & Beauty product industry, Mr. Knorr provides the overall vision and leadership for Tropical Seas. Prior to his tenure at Tropical Seas, Mr. Knorr held the position of Executive Vice-President for Hawaiian Tropic, responsible for research & development, marketing and sales. While working for Hawaiian Tropic, he also developed Alpha to Omega (the contract packaging division of Hawaiian Tropic) and created Baby Places & Tender Places (the first product to have an SPF over 15 in the sun care industry), which sold over 1 million pieces in the first year test market. His duties also consisted of product development from concept to marketplace, including packaging, mold design, artwork and trademarks. Previously, he was vice-president for Amole, a company that specialized in bath, body and skin care products. Both corporations grew sales by over 50% and diversified their core businesses due to Dan’s extensive product knowledge.

In addition to his professional experience, Mr. Knorr attended the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy.

Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: My inspiration is my love of anything to do with our oceans which lead me to Key West in the Florida Keys where in the summer of 1995. I was diving and snorkeling with family & friends for lobster when I noticed the “Valdez Effect” coming off the group of people in the ocean. I could not believe the amount of oil slick that contaminated the waters at least 10 feet out from them. I immediately thought this is really bad for our ocean and its inhabitants as I had noticed several large brain corals that had started dying off in spots thru out the Florida Keys and the Bahamas during the past year or so.

I immediately thought we need to do something about this; as with millions of people basically littering/polluting our oceans every year with petrolatum/mineral oil based sunscreens the amount of oil residue would be ridiculous. So when I returned back to work, I immediately started sourcing more eco-friendly raw materials. To my surprise the industry was just beginning the “green” phase and the ingredients available were not of the quality we required for Reef Safe. The natural oils went rancid very quickly omitting a foul odor, and the so called natural chemical free ingredients were nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Thirteen years later we finally had the formulas perfected and sent them out for biodegradability and toxicity to sea life testing to an independent ecology laboratory for testing to globally recognized standards. After all the ocean is worldwide. We also had Reef Safe tested in fresh water as well as sea water to global standards since all of our waterways are connected.

Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs? Best advice I can give is you need to be
Ans: 1. Must be part Pit Bull- never give up !
2. Make sure you have a unique product/service as the world does not need another copycat
3. Make sure that what you are doing is really your passion / love.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: First – Survival depends on your ability to be a Jack or Jill of all trades = to do whatever jobs need to get done.
Second- ability to delegate responsibility & train people
Third – an extremely high level of quality in your product or service

Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: Wow- that is a tough one. When we first started out I worked 6 days a week 10-12 hours a day. Then when we would receive a large order 7 days a week 19 hour days – yes 6 a.m. to 1:00 a.m..for months at a time. Now I work 5 days a week 10 hour days with an occasional Saturday. Of course that does not include after hour telephone calls with sales reps and distributors. So bottom line – as the owner you are on call 24/7.

Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: My success comes from out of the box thinking coupled with being quite anal about quality of our products, from the ingredients to manufacturing a finished product. Maybe control freak would define me better.

Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: Our most successful marketing to date has been at trade shows where I have one on one contact with potential customers.

Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: Our capital came from my income savings from previous jobs and my father in-law helping us with grocery money and holidays. Then of course the sweat equity that I have put into the company over the past 30 years. In addition to working for much less than I was making at previous companies.

Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: My Long term success stems from being very passionate and sincere about what I do.
For me it has not been about the money, instead from the satisfaction of working for myself and having my family involved in the business as well seeing our Reef Safe product grow as the leader in the Eco-friendly sunscreen industry.

Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: In 5-10 years Reef Safe will be an even stronger presence in the Eco-Friendly sunscreen market, including the first eco-friendly sunscreen in mass market. Personally I would like to be the Reef Safe Ambassador traveling the world visiting all the exotic locations where Reef Safe is sold. Often wished could ship me with the products 🙂

Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Sorry – None. ISO 9000 means nothing when companies send out sub-quality goods. Even the grocery stores don’t bother training even the baggers. Only green they care about is what they put in thier wallet.

Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Having employees that are trainable and loyal plays an important role in product quality and consistency.

Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: Eternity and beyond !

Q. What motivates you?
Ans: My motivation is to help protect our ocean and its inhabitants for future generations.

Q. What are your ideals?
Ans: To be ethical and honest – treat others as you would like to be treated.

Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Typically in middle of the night I will have idea and if I don’t get up and write it down cannot go back to sleep in fear of forgetting.

Q. How do you define success?
Ans: Being able to have our family work with me at our company.

Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Series of events, from trade shows to cold calls to networking with business associates.

Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Our success is because of my drive and dedication.

Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Receiving large purchase orders in recognition of our quality product.

Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: The need for security, no pain no gain.

Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
RollerCoaster – LOL made it into 1 🙂

Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: Select a different product category

Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: Made it tough on my wife raising 2 kids with all the hours I worked

Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: Greatest fear – Getting fired . Manage by spreading out our customer base so that if one fires us we are not out of business. Learned that the hard way in 2008 🙁

Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: Business location was pre-determined by fate. Had come back to Florida to work for another sun care company. When I left that company it just made sense to stay in Daytona Beach.


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