He was one of the most powerful Man in the history of the Aquarium Industry; one of the greatest gentleman I have met in my entire life; and one of the most correct and precise persons this world has seen; an innovator for bird seeds, filters and aquarium and pet supplies of all kinds; the icon of the pet industry worldwide, Rolf C. Hagen, has suddenly left us on 22 October, 2011.
But Rolf, as everyone called him, was not only the icon of the Aquarium Industry, he was one who helped hundreds of thousands of persons around the globe to become ornamental fish lovers. He made it possible for millions to go into the most beautiful and educational hobby this planet has – more than possibly anyone else – or anyone will ever be able to do.
The first day we met, I never forget, was at one of the bi-annual Interzoo Fairs & Exhibitions, I believe in 1970. He shook my hand and said «Du bist der weltbekannte Heiko Bleher, angenehm dich kennen zu lernen und mach weiter so»! I was embarrassed of such kindness. It was on my second participation at the world’s largest international pet exhibition, at which Rolf, with his formerly named company «Weltweit», had already started earlier. This our first meeting took place in the beautiful German Kurbad-Stadt Wiesbaden and since than we have been together almost every two years – also when the Interzoo moved to Nürnberg in 1988. And not only in Germany, but also in other pet fairs around the globe, like on the photo above in Florida, at the Global Pet Expo with Rolf Hagen Junior, today’s president of Rolf C. Hagen.
Rolf had invited me to see him several times in Montreal, head office of Rolf C. Hagen and also to coordinate and find sales representatives in Brazil and elsewhere. And he engaged me in 2002 to do for Rolf C. Hagen the unique magazine NUTRAFIN AQUATIC NEWS, which was a milestone and the largest circulating aquarium magazine in the history of ornamental fishes with 650,000 copies distributed worldwide – in 5 languages. Still today I get almost daily requests for copies, subscriptions and questions about the continuation of this magazine, as it was discontinued in 2004. I tell them to go to www.hagen.com as they have at their website free downloads of the 4 issues dedicated to the 4 most sold aquarium fishes worldwide – one in each issue.
Rolf, like me, started from nothing, just with an Idea and he built an empire, an empire the industry has never seen or heard off before. He always compared us and said to me on day, “Heiko, I might be a milestone and innovator in the aquarium industry, but you have helped this hobby to grow more than anyone else with your discoveries and introductions of beautiful fishes into this hobby …”
I still cannot believe that this honest, 100% genuine gentleman, a man of word, has left us. It is rare (if not impossible) to find another person like him today. I respected him more than any other person (except for my mother), as he respected me.
Rolf I am sure the aquarium-world will never forget you. Thank you for having helped so many people around the globe, thank you for supporting me, my work with fishes and my publications, thank you for having, lived happily and for having been a man of word all your life. I miss talking to you, I miss you as I am sure your entire family does very, very much, and thousands of friends you have made in almost every country.
Good by Rolf C. Hagen
PS: For the Orbituary note in the Canadian The Gazette gives a nice overview and worth reading the life history of this great man – The Icon of the Pet Industry.