Smart as Science, Easy as Magic. It’s what we do!
Aurora Marine Industries Inc.
When he was about 4 or 5 years old, Richard Kittar fell in love with boats. It’s a love that has grown and endures to this day.
People constantly ask me about how and when Aurora Marine Industries Inc. got started.
Like many things, boats have changed over the years. When fiberglass technology was still relatively new and was starting to replace wood as the preferred material that boats were made from, this new wonder material was heralded by boat manufactures as being maintenance free. As it turned out, nothing could be further from the truth. Compared to wooden boats I suppose that there was some merit to their claims, however maintenance has since taken on a totally different paradigm. Like old cars, the mantra for older boats was “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”. That’s all changed for modern boats as well as cars. The new mantra is “If you don’t maintain it, it will break and you will go broke trying to fix it”.
In 1979, I was involved in the investment banking businesses, amongst other business ventures and investments. One day during an informal conversation at a client’s office, I was venting my frustration and disappointment with cleaning and maintenance products for fiberglass boats. I love boats and boating and never miss an opportunity to participate in any discussion involving them. The known technology and products available were for wooden boats and nothing worked on fiberglass, at least not very well. I had invested in two big boxes of cleaners, wax, solvents, and sundry other miracle products that were all destined for the dump and all my labour was wasted.
I believe that the appearance of your boat and how it’s maintained is a reflection of your personality, so a clean, shiny, hansom boat was important to me.
After listening to my lament, one of my client’s employees, the senior R&D chemist, approached me and said “Reechard I make for you”. He was an interesting older gentleman who had recently emigrated from Eastern Europe and he loved science as much as I loved boats. It was difficult to carry on a conversation of more that 5 minutes with him when it turned into a conversation about chemistry or physics. He could see that new boats were the result of new science, and he seemed intrigued. I smiled politely and said OK, but didn’t think much about it.
A few days later, he presented me with two bottles and told me to try these two cleaners on my boat. I was sceptical but thought what the heck, nothing else worked so this stuff couldn’t be any worse. You can only imagine my surprise and delight when after a few hours the boat started looking new again. Scuff marks and stains were coming out with little effort. I was able to easily scrub away the chalking and restore the colour. I kept trying different cleaning projects to challenge the limits of these cleaners. There didn’t seem to be any. They were wonderful. It was as though I had found two bottles of magic.
My neighbours, witnessing the results, came over to see what I was doing and pleaded with me to get them some. The next time I was at my clients, I asked my new Scientist Friend if he would make some more of his miracle cleaners. I offered to pay him whatever he wanted. He said that he would, but refused to be paid. What a nice guy!
A few weeks later, I approached him for more, but this time when he got back to me, along with another six bottles of his miracle cleaners he presented me with two sheets of paper and said “Reechard, you make your self”. The two sheets of paper contained the formulas for the two magic boat cleaners. The well meaning favour had obviously turned into an imposition.
I was a business man, not a chemist. I looked at the formulas and didn’t know what the ingredients were and couldn’t even pronounce some of the names, but still, I felt like a child that had just been given a treasure map. I was pretty busy so I just filed them away.
The following year, both my personal and business life took a dramatic turn and I found myself at a crossroads. When considering my options, I took out the two sheets of paper and thought this may be the time to change my life and do something that I truly loved. Something for me. I’m naturally inquisitive, sagacious and a compulsive problem solver. I was passionate about boats and the boating life style and liked boaters, at least most of them. My friends and their friends were still pleading with me to get them more magic boat cleaner. I knew in my gut there was a demand and always mused about how I could get involved in the boating business. Could this be the opportunity that I had been searching for?
So, I approached a small chemical manufacturer and after swearing them to eternal secrecy, showed them the formulas and asked if they could make this stuff for me. They said they could and I placed my first order. I didn’t know if I could sell it but from my experience with other businesses, I knew that the best market research strategy was to go out and see if people would actually buy your product. It’s more risky than the traditional method of conducting surveys first, where answers were not always reliable, but at least you knew very quickly if you had real demand or not. A simple demonstration was all it took. We had demand all right. A lot of demand as it turned out.
Aurora Chemicals Inc. was incorporated, later changed to Aurora Marine Industries inc. to better to better describe the business that the company was in, and the company’s first two products were ready for market. I created the names Boat Scrub and Boat Clean for them. Boat Clean was later renamed Boat Clean Plus due to advancements made to the formula. All it took to sell these products was a simple demonstration and when boat owners and marine dealers saw the results, they knew that this was the solution to so many of their problems, they almost begged to buy. It was super easy to sell Boat Clean and Boat Scrub and with all the positive feedback from dealers and delighted customers, it sure was a lot of fun.
More than 38 years later, Boat Scrub and Boat Clean Plus are still two of our top selling products. They were both biodegradable and green products when they were invented and still are today, which proves that you don’t have to compromise on quality or performance in order to be kind to Mother Nature.
The name Aurora was selected for the company as it met the criteria set out for the company name. Aurora was the goddess of the morning in Roman mythology, signifying rebirth, which was what I was doing with my life. It started with the letter “A” which was at the beginning of the alphabet and would be listed at the beginning of most directories so that it could be easily found. It was a universal name and avoided the pitfalls of translation into other languages. (For example: the Nova automobile didn’t sell well in Mexico; in Spanish, No Vaya means No Go. McDonalds had a problem with Big Mack in Paris. The literal French translation is Gros Mack, which is slang for Pimp.)
Even today, boat owners still proclaim Boat Scrub and Boat Clean Plus as miracle products. We constantly get emails and telephone calls from happy customers reporting how pleased they are with these and other Aurora products that we’ve since invented. One customer told us that after trying every other boat cleaner on the market that he was resigned to living with the 6 year old stains on his boat. Boat Scrub took them all out in less than 5 minutes.
It’s strange how solving one problem only leads to another, or numerous others. I suppose that because we had the best fiberglass cleaners on the market, we became the go to experts. Our customers started asking: Now that my boat is clean and shiny again, how do I protect it? How do I get the algae or barnacles off the bottom of my boat? How can I get rid of that wicked smell in my boat? What do you have for my inflatable? I used acid on my pontoons to get the marine growth off, now how can I restore the silver finish? How can I protect my pontoons against corrosion, marine growth and those ugly white streaks? What about my dirty, stained vinyl seats, dull and chalky non-skid deck, foggy isinglass windows, leaky canvas top, rusty stainless steel, etc., etc.
Realizing that finding the right solutions to these problems could be profitable, we invested heavily in R&D and over the years have invented and brought to market over 50 unique products. Plus, we continuously work at improving the products that we have, to make them better, safer and even more environment friendly, never for a moment resting on our laurels. We used the latest, leading edge, technologies, the best ingredients available and when unavailable, even invented new and sometimes radical technologies of our own. All the while being true to our mandate; “making products that were environment friendly, safe for people and boats or, not at all”.
Today, we’re very proud of the Aurora Marine brand that our team has created. When we put a label on a bottle of product, it means something. It’s far more than a bottle of product; it’s a solution to someone’s problem, need or desire. Our customers trust us every time they purchase one of our products, or a complete system matched solution to their boat problem, and we respect and value that trust.
We know that each product that leaves our factory is the best that it can be. In other words, “Smart as Science, Easy as Magic”. Our products must meet or exceed our customers’ expectations and be so easy to use that even a first timer can get professional results just by following the instructions. We believe so strongly in taking responsibility for the products we sell that we not only guarantee that they will work as promised, but guarantee also that you’ll be satisfied with the results, or we’ll give you your money back. Is that fair? BTW, we don’t get many returns.
I take great pride in knowing that Aurora Marine has helped millions of boat owners around the world enhance their boating experience, their pride of ownership and the appearance and value of their boats. We have many customers that have been fans of the Aurora brand for more than 20 years. They won’t use anything else and tell us that they love bragging about their beautiful boats and sharing their positive experience with their boating friends and neighbours.
Aurora Boat Care Products, The Best Care Your Boat Can Get, is not only our brand, it’s our reputation.
President and CEO
Aurora Marine Industries Inc.