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Synchronium Consulting - Claude-Michel Prévost

  Aquaponics: the intern scam

The whole Internship thing is a scam.

1) There is no training.

Not even a course outline, or a session.

Nothing about the fish, or the plants, or the systems.

Only 2 outdated manuals, heavy with personal and New Age stuff but very light on data (i.e., "this xyz herb grows well with aquaponics, we had a full batch", but no pics, data on the strain, seed provider, germinating rate, growth rate, yield etc.)

And I had to go through a lot of efforts in order to finally receive my copies from my "teachers", same teachers who kept referring me to the manuals they couldn't give me, or who kept giving me different answers from the very same manual they wrote.

No training on the personal aquaponic system, or the family system.

Actually, these systems were left without maintenance, and even ignored during the Saturday presentations/New Age preachings/Navel gazings. You can check the pics on the right, or the video.

No training on the business side, marketing, distribution etc.

But Susanne and Tim kept promoting their upcoming April 2011 training in Florida, training which I or the other interns didn't receive.

2) There is no business.

3.5 years in business.

1 product: 1lb bag or organic lettuce mix (Romaine, butter and red something)

1 customer: Costco in Kona.

1 distribution point: Costco in Kona.

No real product line(s).

Funny part, they're sitting on 8 potential products that could expand their 1 product line, but fully miss this opportunity since they are too busy pretending they know it all.

No real services - their consulting business - has almost no clients.

No operations manuals, for the fish or the plants or the raft aquaqonic systems

No market research. Not even down the aisles of Costo to check their competitors.

No data on the growing system and plants - which could have help prevent many diseases and help increase production and sales.

No R&D on other products - the Garuda farms, for example, sell 18 kinds of vegetables and about 20 different herbs and spices for 6 farmers market a week.

No flow charts. No price grids or product matrix. No business plan.

No data.

But Susanne and Tim will keep bragging on how they won the Costco account - they didn't, another ex employee did - and how they are the only big scale, commercial UDSA certified organic aquaponics grower in the USA.

Funny, they're not even members of the Hawaii Organic Farmers Association.

Funny, they're not even listed in the Listing of USDA certified organic operations (as of 2010). No mention of them in the Hawaii section.

3) There is no team.

No day to day meeting.

No weekly meeting.

Not even a calendar on a wall. Or shared on the Web.

4) There is slave labor.

3 interns do the work related to seeding, germinating, transplanting, maintaining, cutting and delivery of 320 to 400 lbs of organic lettuce every week.

That's 4 to 5 days a week of work for 1 client, 1 product, and 1 distribution point.

1 underpaid employee helps them package and reseed, 2 to 3 days a week.

Plus Susann and her son Victor will pitch in - Victor more regularly - as long as they can keep focus or discipline, a few hours a day, before she jumps into the next "crisis" coming up.

4 horses. 5 goats. 2 outside dogs. 2 inside dogs. 1 mongoose. 1 dozen chickens. 1 parrot. 15 cats - 1 gave birht, 2 still pregnant when I left. Plus 4 to 6 kids.

Susann and Tim do as little as possible. Interns end up babysitting their kids or cleaning the cats and ants infested kitchen and feeding the animals and delivering to the Costco trucks.

Her email covering the terms of the internship is a joke.

There is only - heavy - Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder.

While they're scrambling to get their sorting station clean enough for an upcoming certification, their place is extremely messy and dirty, to a point I will call pathological.

Those of you who've lived with crack heads or meth heads will know what kind of mess I mean.

I'm not talking only about the kitchen.

I mean the whole place, minus the grandmother's room.

Their office is an incredible mess.

Their living quarters - bedrooms, living rooms, etc are a constant mess.

The front area - parking, front door, staircase etc. - is the communal kitty litter.

One intern mentioned that this was enough to report them to Family Services.

They simply can't handle reality.

Especially after being busted twice by the DEA for possession and growing of marijuana on the premises.

Friendly Aquaponics
BLCD 2003
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Coaching and Leadership Int'l
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May 2006
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The Aroga Group
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Garuda Organic Farm
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