Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Connard.
Matt, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
How I began this journey with Oasis is a mixture of life long passions between animals (most specifically reptiles & amphibians) and music. Growing up, I always had a deep curiosity and admiration for all animals but nothing came close to my passion for reptiles. My father would bring home every lizard & snake he would find at work, which led to us going into the mountains to find whatever we could. My mother was a tough customer, she would never let me keep what I caught but after relentless convincing, I was able to have my first pet snake. That led me into having quite the collection of critters as a young boy and to this day they remain as some of my fondest memories.
After a few snakes escaping from their cages, I was banned from ever keeping reptiles due to my mother’s extreme fear of them. So like any other normal kid, haha, I switched my passion over to guitar. Heavy metal became my lifeblood at that point and I relentlessly practiced throughout my early teenage years, upwards to 7-8 hours a day. I was in many garage bands with dreams to make it into the big-leagues of rock-stardom. After many failed attempts into my early 20’s, I began to realize that the dream of becoming a musical giant was not for me. Touring, labels, managers, media, etc. It was not who I was meant to be and I became lost with the thought of who I was meant to become. I couldn’t stand the thought of working my whole life for someone else when my passion wasn’t in it. It may be the mix of my rebel spirit & stubbornness, but I knew I had to do something I could stand behind 100%.
After meeting the love of my life and having our son, my life had a meaning that I have never experienced before; true passion. Feeling unconditional love to the fullest, it inspired me to follow my heart but my heart was torn. Music wasn’t a viable option financially and working for an animal shelter wouldn’t support my family. So I began to help run my father’s business with him, Washout Watchdog, a concrete products company that aimed for environmental sustainability. This helped me hone in my passion by helping the family business succeed with a lot of hard work and out-of-the-box thinking. From there I decided I needed to further boost my passion by getting back into music, but this time on my terms.
That’s where War Chariot was born, a co-owned studio project between myself and my great friend Michael Eichstedt. Completely aimed to unleash our passion in music without the strings attached inside the music business. Completely self-produced by ourselves and gaining small steps of recognition, this inspired me further which lead into the idea I have created today. It’s a full-circle in terms of where I started to where I am now, without animals I wouldn’t have pursued music and without music, I wouldn’t have pursued my passion for reptiles. This gave me a chance to give back into the reptile hobby in a way I couldn’t before, by creating cages with the animal’s best interest in mind. I can’t tell you how many times I had trouble keeping their micro-environment inside the cage at optimal efficiency besides the fact of keeping them IN their cages growing up. So I created a cage that meets the best of both worlds; efficiency & longevity.
By manufacturing them myself through Rotational Molding in-house with our team at Washout Watchdog, I have been able to design the cage I always wanted. An escape-proof, long-lasting, light-weight, user-friendly, animal conscious micro-environment that won’t break the bank. My aim is to create the best reptile cages on the market that suits the needs of both animal & owner in the rapidly growing hobby that is now becoming a wide-spread passion for people of all ages & needs. From the professional breeder/conservationist to the entry-level hobbyist, my cages are aimed to provide the optimal experience of owning these captivating animals with the life-term care in mind.
Has it been a smooth road?
Since the beginning, there have been many obstacles along the way. From funding the development to reaching numerous testing errors, there have been many challenges I have faced. Working 40 hours a week, recording an album, caring for all my snakes, breeding my snakes, being a devoted husband & father and all the while developing my cages has been no easy feat to accomplish. For the last year I have been putting in blood, sweat & tears into this development and every day I get closer to finalizing my first edition of reptiles cages. I am still in the developing stage but have reached the end of my designing process. I am planning to fully launch my company by Spring of 2020; so stay tuned!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Oasis Exotic Enclosures story. Tell us more about the business.
Oasis was born from the re-emerging into the reptile hobby in 2016. When I last had reptiles in 1998, the reptile hobby was a very different world. More then not, the majority of animals were wild-caught which had very defensive attitudes which made it daunting as a child to take care of. The only information we had was from books and care-sheets. And the animals were pretty straightforward in terms of visual appeal, you had your normal wild-type look and albinos, with a few other variations that were the price of a brand new car at times. But coming back into the hobby, I was blown away from how gigantic the reptile industry had become.
The Ball Python craze was in full swing, with 100’s and 100’s of colors and patterns to choose from with new variations seeming to hatch every other month. People were able to quit their full time jobs and devote themselves to breeding 100’s-1,000’s of reptiles for a living and that blew my mind. On top of the fact that some animals were being sold for over $1,000-$50,000 dollars, and that was being done every year without people blinking an eye. I saw a hobby that not only had become more diverse with genetic variations & multi-generational bred animals but more people joining in the hobby from all over the world then ever before. Social Media completely changed the hobby and it grows larger every day! And that’s when it hit me, who is supplying all the cages & housing? I noticed there are only a handful of manufacturers compare to the 1,000’s of owners and breeders with rooms full of animals.
All of them I liked, each company brought something different to the table and each had their own benefits to them. They are all great companies and they all share the same principles as myself. But being the perfectionist I am, I didn’t find the cage I had pictured in my head and that’s where my idea came to me. I did my research and noticed that plastic vs glass & wood tended to be the best option for keeping reptiles. You don’t have to worry from mold & swelling from wood and temperature inconsistency from glass. They also tend to weigh much less then the latter and are easier to clean. But with plastic cages being put together in sheets, they tend to have small gaps which can harbor germs and are very tough to clean. So I decided to have my cages take the best of all categories and put them into one. I created a seamless one-piece plastic cage with molded-in side-handles to add easy maneuverability when cleaning and moving cages around.
Being seamless, there is no area that cannot be fully disinfected and cleaned. I have created a metal frame to be a weight-bearing foundation for the front-facing locking doors so no matter if you have one cage or stack five more on top, the doors remain unbuckled and firm. Since they are cooked through the Rotational Molding process, they can take a beating without cracking or breaking. It’s easy enough to be carried by a ten year old and strong enough to house even the strongest of large snakes. With that in mind, I strive to integrate more features and innovations as time goes on with my company to match the ever-growing reptile industry.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
As I have mentioned before, the reptile industry is always changing and growing. So as an entity within that industry, I have to be able to adapt and change with it as needed. Technology is growing at a very rapid pace and I plan to heavily incorporate that with my cages as I grow. So expect to see some very revolutionary additions into my cages in time that will only make the animal and owner’s symbiotic experience more optimal & personal!
- Phone: 909-908-4747
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @oasisexoticenclosures @warchariotofficial @washoutwatchdog