Rob Powells and Ryan Morgan decided it was time to get tanked.
The co-owners of Rocket Fizz, the soda and candy shop that the partners have franchised into an empire on its way to 41 stores nationwide, were hosting a public relations event at their Westwood store when Morgan recognized Wayde King and Brett Raymer from the Animal Planet show "Tanked."
King and Raymer own a custom aquarium-building facility called Acrylic Tank Manufacturing in Las Vegas, and "Tanked" documents their adventures creating custom aquariums.
"We talked to them and told them we were fans of the show," Powells said. "We said we ought to put a tank into one of our stores."
The idea blossomed, and the "Tanked" crew pitched the idea for a custom tank at the chain's Camarillo headquarters. The reality show was shot over six weeks and will air at 9 p.m. today on Animal Planet.
"They asked us what we wanted, and we started conceptualizing what would make a good tank," Powells said.
The creative process the "Tanked" crew went through was something Powells and Morgan said they could relate to.
"When you see the show, and the guys are pitching ideas back and forth, it looks a lot like conflict, but it's really not," Morgan said. "That's the creative process. We do that a lot with each other. There's a lot of give and take, and we ridicule each other's ideas and kid each other."
The tank design ultimately came from the Rocket Fizz logo, a retro-looking rocket with massive fins and a missile-shaped body. The aquarium holds 250 gallons of water and features a small waterfall, lights and Rocket Fizz soda bottles embedded in coral.
At the back of the tank, more Rocket Fizz soda bottles are visible, and they can be rotated in and out for variety.
"People really like it. They stop and comment on it or look at the fish. It's a great conversation piece," Morgan said.
Powells and Morgan won't reveal the cost of the rocket tank.
"We really enjoyed it. It was a smooth process," Powells said. "There's a realness to the ‘Tanked' crew, and we enjoyed them. We still talk to some of the crew. We've become friends."
Even as the owners have taken on quirky projects for their Camarillo store, they continue to manage a booming business.
Rocket Fizz has enjoyed explosive growth, even during a slow economy.
As the co-owners spoke about the aquarium, Mehrdad and Shereen Hariri, of Winter Park, Fla., were in Camarillo training for a week to open their store in the sunshine state.
"I was in Nashville, Tenn. with my brother," Mehrdad Hariri said. "It was summer and I was thirsty and we saw Rocket Fizz. I stopped in and ended up talking to the owner. One thing led to another, and here I am opening a franchise."
Mehrdad said he's considering a ‘Tanked' aquarium for his store, as well.
"We've learned to sort of streamline the process so we literally have a crew we work with, and we design a store and then send the materials in a truck," Morgan said. "We have to keep the stores looking like Rocket Fizz, so it's a combination of the same materials. The crew flies in and does the install."
Still, no two stores look exactly the same.
"In Lake Tahoe, the store looks like a ski lodge," Powells said. "In San Diego, there are surfboards at the store."
Powells, who can name all of the stores across the country in his head, said franchise inquiries arrive every day.
"We get to pick and choose who we work with, and it's been a really great process," he said.
The pair are in the process of opening six stores simultaneously.