Whether or not it’s because his custom-aquarium business, Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) of Las Vegas, is featured on Animal Planet’s Friday-night hit “Tanked,” Wayde King recently found himself the target of a heartbreaking theft.
In late January, thieves broke into ATM, which doubled as home to some of King’s many pets, including several exotic birds. The culprits, who also stole puppies from local pet stores, took King’s cockatoo and three macaws, along with four bearded dragon reptiles.
At last report, three of the birds were recovered, with one macaw still missing.
“I don’t know if they knew they were my birds, personally,” says King, talking to Zap2it while relaxing at an outdoor table at a Malibu, Calif., winery, where he and partner/brother-in-law Brett Raymer have just finished transforming a little covered wagon into a wine-themed aquarium.
“They’d seen the store before,” he continues. “They definitely scoped it out. You could see it on the video cameras — they broke the glass. The alarm didn’t go off, because it’s door-activated.”
There were motion sensors in the ATM warehouse/fabrication floor, but, King says, “They were dialed down a bit for the cats.”
One suspect, a juvenile, was apprehended and is facing charges, while another one is still at large.
“It was pretty-high profile,” says King of local news coverage, “being us.”
While being on the highly rated “Tanked” turned the theft into a big story in the Las Vegas area, it’s also bringing in a lot of prospective business.
“The show has brought in tons and tons of requests,” says Raymer. “The thing is, people don’t have a clue. We get 100-150 quotes a day when the show is running. We’ve hired new people to maintain, but the thing is, people just don’t realize the cost, how much money [the aquariums] are.”
But ATM is still a real business, and it suffered from the recession just like any other business. And King has yet to be rolling in the TV-generated cash.
“I’m not rich,” he says. “I’m still broke. I have no money. I’m still catching up from the years before. That’s what I’m doing. It lets you be able to take your company to the next level and grow and have bigger payrolls, and we’re doing that. So, hopefully, in another year, year-and-a-half, it’ll be nice.”
ATM has also been able to move into a larger facility, but that’s meant extra headaches for CEO King.
“All of a sudden,” he says, “you move into a new office, ‘Where’s my calculator? My phone won’t work. Why won’t my seat go down?’ Everyone comes to you, and you’re still trying to film and do it all.”
Fans also get to see how King and Raymer — brought together when King married Raymer’s sister, Heather — manage to work around their disparate personalities.
“Even though we’re totally opposite people,” says Raymer, “the reason we get along so good is because ultimately we both have the same common goal, and that’s to be successful and to be the best. He always wants to be the best at what he does, and I want to be the best at what I do.
“We’ve been together almost 17 years, so we’re like brothers. We know each other’s pet peeves. We know each other’s good and bad points.”
“I irritate him more,” says King.
“Over the years,” Raymer continues, “we’ve just learned to the point where, if I’ve got a problem with him, I just walk away. Fifteen minutes later, it’s over. We know we have a common goal, and us being angry at each other is not going to get us where we need to be.
“So we set our differences aside, and when we’re not angry anymore, we sit down and discuss it.”