Meet The Staff
Cy Forell (Co-Owner) - I started out in the hobby with a Goldfish from the fair, and then a Betta bowl. I set up my first 10 gallon tropical freshwater tank when I was twelve. It quickly became a 20 gallon and then a 38 gallon.
I began my professional aquarium career at a local pet store when I was sixteen years old. After one year there, I moved on to another local family owned pet store chain. I was quickly made an assistant manager and served as an aquatics specialist. After a few years with this company I was moved out to co-manage their new aquarium only shop. At this point I was bitten with the saltwater "bug". I had bred countless freshwater species but saltwater aquariums provided a whole new realm to explore. In 1998, I began servicing aquariums to supplement my income. I started my own company on the side called Aqua Pro USA. This business grew quickly, so Tim and I formed a new partnership called Barrier Reef Aquariums in 2000.
Throughout my college education, I found myself drawn to science and environmental issues/policy classes. There was no degree program that perfectly matched my interests. In 2001, I finally finished up my last few classes at the University of Washington and earned a Bachelor Degree in Liberal Arts with a focus in International Interactions. During the summer of 2006, I realized that our Coral Aquaculture Farm and Aquarium Servicing Business had grown to the point where it was time for Tim and I to go our own direction. After 15 years I left the store I had helped to build, in order to pursue my goals with Tim. Shortly after we left we were approached about the possibility of opening our own aquarium shop. We both knew it was what we wanted to do! We opened the doors of our retail shop in December of 2006.
My other interests include spending time with my wife, visiting her family and friends in Canada, sports, movies, music, and travel. My username on RF/RC is "barrierreefcf".
Tim Cole(Co-Owner) - I have been fascinated with fish and the ocean all my life. When I was little, my dream was to study sharks "when I grew up." I read and collected anything and everything related to them. Since I grew up in the Arizona desert my exposure to the sea was limited to PBS.
My addiction to aquariums began with a 10 gallon tropical freshwater tank when I was eight years old. I then moved up to a 20 gallon tank that I kept for many years. When I was in Junior High I went to a local fish store and discovered saltwater. I was instantly hooked. I got myself into a 34 gallon acrylic hex tank as my first saltwater reef aquarium. I quickly moved up to 55 gallon which, I brought all over with me during my college years. Though still fascinated with sharks, I found a deeper passion learning more about living reef communities. I decided to go to the University of Washington to achieve a degree in Marine Zoology. My goal was to be in the field of aquaculture or conservation. I later switched to the School of Fisheries Sciences, which I found was a much better fit. Thanks to my education, I have been given valuable insight to all the different fisheries and forms of aquaculture. This has driven me in educating the public on proper husbandry and encouraging aquaculture in the aquarium hobby.
My career in the aquarium industry began during my senior year in high school. I got a job at a local fish store and quickly moved up to an assistant manager position. I worked at that store for two years then transferred to a sister store where I continued as an assistant manager. I continued to manage this store until mid-2006. During my first couple years in the industry I fell into aquarium servicing after landing a local rap star as a client. As I continued to acquire new clients, I began to realize I wanted to make my future in this business. My username on RF/RC is "barrierreeftc".
Matt Bricknell (Custom Design Division) - Matt has a full time career as a wireless technician but as a good friend of ours he is always around helping out. He is very skilled in steel/aluminum fabrication and his ability to take a concept from design to reality has enabled us to start a new division. Barrier Reef Elite Concepts, which Matt heads up, offers design, fabrication, and installation services for any custom job. He is also well versed with Neptune AquaControllers and Elos Products. To see an example of Matt's skills in custom tank design and fabrication check out his current tank build thread here. Its a custom 370 gallon, Elos "Crystal" glass, rimless/braceless, reef tank! His username on RF/RC is "bricky".
Jamie Schlump (Store Manager) - Ever since I can remember I always knew I wanted to work with animals. Growing up, I was the girl that was found playing with frogs in a muddy ditch or collecting insects and critters since I thought they were "cute". I started out with multiple goldfish and bettas but it wasn't until college when I realized you could have the ocean in a fish tank!
I enrolled in Michigan State University's Pre-Vet program, but after doing a project on coral bleaching my freshman year, inspired to hopefully save the reefs someday, I switched my major to Zoology with a concentration in Marine Biology. Not more than a few months after this switch, I was hired at Preuss Pets and was assigned to the saltwater department with hope that I would quickly catch on. While there, I learned how to educate the general public make smart decisions when setting up and maintaining their saltwater tanks using the knowledge combined from my schooling, at home research, and helpful, informative co-workers. I stayed at Preuss's two years and left with a passion and better understanding of the hobby than thought possible.
After receiving my Bachelors, I moved to Washington, worked with Chinook salmon for a summer, then decided to get back into the hobby by becoming an employee here at BRA. I have had a 40, 30 and 20 gallon reef tank. Activities I do when I'm not working include hiking/camping, Xbox/computer games, jewelry making, painting and a lot of reading.
Jeff McCarty (Sales Associate/Maintenance Specialist) - My passion for aquariums started when I was young. I set up my first 10 gallon freshwater aquarium when I was 12 years old. This led to a 26 gallon bow front, which eventually became a saltwater tank. Then I set up 90 gallon and 125 gallon aquariums. I currently maintain two aquariums at home.
Since I had such a strong interest in the aquarium hobby, I got my first part time job at a pet store when I was 16. Within the year, I was promoted to manager of the saltwater department. A few years later I decided to become a firefighter. The aquarium industry must have set its hooks in me, because a few years later I came back. I helped a friend start up a new store and I was put in charge of the aquatics and reptile departments. I have also worked briefly in aquarium maintenance, the software industry, and a snowboarding shop. I joined the Barrier Reef team in September of 2011.
My other interests include snowboarding, long boarding, wakeboarding, motorcycles, snowmobiles, video games, movies, and working on cars.
Josh Cunningham (Assistant Store Manager/Servicing Technician) - I have always had an affinity for nature, especially when it came to the aquatic environments. When I turned 6 my brother gave me my first fishing pole (which I treasure to this day.) With all the time I spent on the lakes, rivers, ponds as well as the Pacific Ocean, while growing up, my fascination grew. I started to bring home anything I could fit into a ten gallon aquarium. I learned some hard husbandry lessons early on, having no knowledge of filtration. After high school, my passion for marine aquariums began to grow as I learned more and more about the fish I enjoyed keeping. A forty gallon fish tank turned into a room full of small aquariums and a job at the local aquarium store. Countless aquariums later, I am still fascinated every day.
I have had the honor and pleasure of working with some amazing people, at some amazing stores over the years. My last job, at the Lahser Interspecies Research Foundation, involved me helping to maintain a 50,000 gallon indoor aquarium. My obsession eventually brought me to Maui where I became SCUBA certified as well as an avid free-diver. I have spent countless hours on a single portion of reef to watch how it functions in its entirety. I cherish my personal accomplishments in coral and fish husbandry, most of all, breeding and rearing clownfish, seahorses, dottybacks, as well as spawning many other species.
This country was built on homegrown, grass roots ingenuity, and that is exactly what our hobby, and aquaculture in general, needs most of all. I try to preach the benefits of small and large scale responsible culture as much as I can. We all have a vested interest in the future. What better way to ensure a brighter future than to progress and fortify something we love.
Mikayla Smith (Sales Associate) - Starting from a young age I have always loved animals. I grew up with aquariums of all kinds in my home and could always be found catching fish and frogs out of the pond near my childhood home. I continue to feel that passion for animals big and small today.
I graduated in 2012 and am currently exploring school options in the veterinary technician field. I have been in the child care industry for almost 3 years, but now feel I have found my place being able to care for animals. In my spare time I enjoy my pets at home including a fresh water aquarium, 30 aquatic salamanders, a rat, snakes and two rescue dogs that I dedicate my time to. I also enjoy photography after studying both traditional black and white film processing and digital photography for 8 semesters.
Dane Olsen (Sales Associate) - My appreciation for animals started from the crib. Growing up with a protective golden retriever that wanted to make sure that I was safe wherever I crawled to my best friend’s mom having a wildlife sanctuary, I have always felt the need to have animals in my life.
After high school, I started a career in new construction plumbing and that’s when my passion for aquariums began. I had the opportunity to build a filtration and distribution system for a saltwater aquarium. Ever since I saw that amazing tank established, I have been very interested in saltwater fish and corals, and have successfully fostered my own aquariums over time.
Currently, my wife and I live in Woodinville where our four dogs (Rhodesian Ridgeback, Pit Bull, Great Dane, and mutt) have lots of room to run and watch the horses at the equestrian center next door. Since our time in Woodinville, I have had the time to get back to my true passion and have established two 30 gallon saltwater tanks and most recently a 135 gallon saltwater aquarium. I am fortunate to have a career at Barrier Reef Aquariums where I can share my passion and the skills I have acquired, along with the opportunity to expand my aquaculture knowledge.