There are not a lot of people working in this industry who, for the past 20 or so years, have been at it longer or had a greater impact on all of our businesses then Fred Bell. Fred recently announced his retirement as an independent sales rep from Firestone Specialty Products. The road he has taken to get here is loaded with milestones.
Fred started his rubber business career with a company called Colonial Rubber located in Dyersburg, Tennessee. He started in the Print shop when Colonial Rubber purchased the printing business Fred owned. He then took a position in international sales; traveling the world selling EPDM roofing material.
While traveling he came across water gardening and noticed they used a liner, which needed improvement. So Fred meet with the R&D lab at Colonial where together they developed the formula for Fish Friendly EPDM Pond Liner. He then pioneered the marketing and sales of Fish Friendly EPDM Pond Liner in the U.S. and Canada with Colonial Rubber.
Colonial Rubber was bought by Firestone. Fortunately, Firestone decided to keep the pond liner program and Fred agreed to stay on as an independent sales rep for Firestone Specialty Products.
Mark Munley, VP – Sales and Marketing for Firestone Specialty Products said, “Firestone Specialty Products considers Fred to be one of the true ‘Founding Fathers’ of the Ponding Industry.”
Fred was instrumental in EPDM gaining global acceptance into the ponding market as domestic brand leaders now use EPDM rubber liners as a staple in their pond kits and other offerings that they provide to the North American and International Markets.
Today, EPDM rubber liners are used in many applications. Over Fred’s Career, over a billion sq. ft. of EPDM has been used to satisfy water containment/conveyance applications.
As Mark Munley said, “the industry needs more individuals with such a vision–we are blessed as a result of his efforts.”
Fred also volunteered his time to help this industry. He was a founding member of NAPP (The National Association of Pond Professionals). As Derek Guivehchi said, “he was a big cheerleader of the entire water garden industry and was instrumental in getting the industry to where it is today.”
Roseanne Conrad, Garden Pond Promotions, first meet Fred in 1995. She was publishing a newsletter called Water Garden News. Fred traveled from Tennessee to Pennsylvania to meet Roseanne and see how they could work together to further the industry. It was through Fred’s encouragement that Roseanne turned her newsletter into a full color magazine, which is how Pondkeeper magazine was born.
Fred always made sure that Firestone provided liner and materials for the educational pond builds that were held in conjunction with PONDAPALOOZA. Roseanne said, “Fred was a great source of support, advice and inspiration. He promoted and defended the industry.”
Derek says, “Fred still stops by the office, but he also is enjoying working on some antique cars.”
Fred thank you for all you have done and we hope you enjoy your retirement.