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Inside the door of Vortex Innerspace Productsby Dianne Dyess
Aquarium hobbyists from Connecticut to California and from Mexico to New Zealand know they can depend on Vortex to produce some of the finest aquarium filters and accessories in the world. In Fact, the company's Diatom Filter has been America's best selling aquarium filter for more than 15 years.
One of the secrets of the company's success is what goes on behind the doors of this relatively small company. A finely tuned network of operations in the factory makes it possible to keep customers all over the world satisfied with Vortex products and services.
Built with pride in Florida
Vortex Innerspace Products, a company most widely known for its unique aquarium filter, the Diatom Filter models D-1 and XL, were formed in 1969 by Denzel Dockery in Michigan. Now located in the small northwest Florida town of Ponce de Leon, the company is managed by son Daryl Dockery and staffed by local residents.
In addition to the Diatom Filter, Vortex manufactures a pond filter system, which is a floating water pump for garden decorator ponds; an ultra-violet germicidal lamp; a reverse-flow under-gravel filter; a gravel washer; and the Stage-One Air Lift Filter that filters 50 gallons per hour. Also produced and hand packaged here are the Diatom Filter Powder and an activated carbon called SUPER-CHAR that is an additive for the powder.
Phone orders for products come from all over the United States and also from foreign countries. Callers from cities only 100 miles away or as far away as Israel, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Mexico, Germany or Canada are amazed at the personal attention they receive. They are all served as if they were next-door-neighbors.
Each customer is important at Vortex and are always treated as individuals. That's one of the business philosophies the company has maintained even as it has grown over the years.
Expert filter assembly
The Vortex plant consists of a four-building complex for shopping, inventory storage, assembly and packaging. All office personnel, including president and vice president, Denzel and Daryl Dockery, are located in offices within the manufacturing building. They believe in "hands-on," personal supervision of assembly and shipping.
Assembling the Diatom Filter is a very individual procedure in itself. Highly skilled workers give personal attention to each process. The pump alone passes through the hands of at least eight people during assembly.
When all the parts have been assembled and inspected, packaging takes place on another assembly line. The finished piece of equipment is then inspected again before it is placed in the package, ready for sale.
The company secretary receives orders and keeps them flowing smoothly. If there's a question from a customer, the secretary knows the factory's entire working process and can track down any order. If a customer should need any information about billing or payments, he or she can speak directly to that department.
Every area of the business is dealt with on a one-to-one basis. The close-knit operation involves every person, in every department, for every order. This allows the company to process orders quickly, most of them within 48 hours.
Careful custom shipping
Orders for the company's products average more that 100 per day. Considering this volume of business it is remarkable that the Vortex people still give such individual, small-town attention to every part that passes through the assembly line and every parcel that passes out of the shipping department. In our fast-paced and quantity-oriented business world of today, this is a fact they can be proud of.
The majority of freight is shipped by local common carriers. Small orders are shipped daily by UPS and Parcel Post. Each order is recorded on the day it comes in and then logged again when it is shipped out, so any questions concerning order arrival or shipping date can be answered quickly.
The Diatom Filter powder is also packaged at the Vortex plant. Incoming shipments of the powder are stored in separate building from the assembly and warehouse building. The Diatom powder is measured in starter kits for the Diatom filter and also packaged in one and five pound boxes for purchase.
They service what they sell
Because of the individual attention given to each part assembled at the Vortex factory, there are usually few complaints. But if any problems do arise, the company honors its six-month warranty given on all products. When there is any type of trouble with the filter or the motor, the company wants to build on its outstanding reputation and record for fast and reliable service.
When a product comes back it is logged and then taken to the repair department. Once the problem has been found, the repair person fills out a repair form that is sent back to the customer. It states the problem and an estimate of the cost of the repair.
Repeat orders tell the story
When distributors and retail dealers receive their cases of the Diatom Filters, they may not be aware of the time and care given to each individual unit. But satisfied Vortex customers prove all the time spent on detail is well worth the effort. There are hundreds of thousands of Vortex products in use around the world, helping aquarium hobbyists to achieve success.
High-quality products assembled by experts and packed, shipped and serviced with care by careful people is the winning combination that makes for a successful operation. Vortex Innerspace Products seems to have found that perfect combination.