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Pet Age
 

September 6, 2017

Pet Age each year honors the pet industry leaders who have shown a long-term commitment to the success of the pet industry based on experience, integrity and leadership. This year’s judges were PetLift’s Nancy Apatow, Gary Bagnall from Zoo Med and Greg Judge of Southeast Pet. The 2017 ICON winners were selected from an enormous pool of qualified candidates, each with at least 20 years’ experience in the pet manufacturing or servicing industry. This year’s recipients represent members of the industry hailing from every region of the country, with unique and yet equally valuable experiences. We honor the meaningful and lasting contributions of this year’s ICON awardees.

Jim Headshot 51117 close upJim Bradley
CEO and President
Bradley Caldwell, Inc.
Hazelton, Pennsylvania
Years in the Industry: 42

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
We were selling into the farm supply market, and as those dealers started taking interest in the pet market, we followed along.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Making pet products available to consumers through multiple industries.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry, and why?
My best decision was in 1996 when we merged New Holland Supply Co. and Caldwell Supply Co. to form Bradley Caldwell, Inc.

How has the pet industry changed since you started and how have the changes shaped your business?
The pet industry has dramatically changed as the pet numbers have grown. We now spend almost as much time trying to protect our industry as we do supplying product to it.

Describe your leadership style and how it has helped you be successful in the pet industry.
My style is to provide a vision and goals for our company. I make sure management has the tools they need to reach those goals and then get out of their way. Th is allows me to work more on our company rather than in it.

Darmohraj, Andy color hi res 2Andrew Darmohraj
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
American Pet Products Association, Inc.
Greenwich, Connecticut
Years in the Industry: 20

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I got into the industry when I was recruited to join the association to run its trade show. I had produced events in many industries but was very excited to join the pet industry.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I have been involved in producing the last 20 trade shows for APPA. Th e APPMA Show grew and become more international in those years. I also was part of the group that negotiated the joint venture between APPA and PIDA that created Global Pet Expo.

What is something you are totally passionate about and why?
I am passionate about our members and bringing them the best benefits and services. That includes making Global Pet Expo the best trade show it can be and finding programs and services that our members find valuable.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Combining the APPA and PIDA trade shows into Global Pet Expo has had a positive impact on the pet industry. It is now the largest annual pet products trade show in the world. With almost a third of our Wufoo buyers and exhibitors coming from outside the U.S., it is truly an international event.

unnamedBob Fountain
President and CEO
Fountain Agricounsel, LLC
Stonington, Connecticut
Years in the Industry: 47

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
The human-animal bond and because the industry is recession proof. The industry is very dynamic and requires vigilance to keep on top of. It’s a very profitable industry with lots of unmet needs in the veterinary medicine side.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
A weekly 100-page newsletter. Also our M&A work has led to many licensing, acquisition, and divestment transactions. We have advised hundreds of private equity fi rms that love the industry but have little knowledge of it. This is a “specialist” field.

How has the pet industry changed since you started and how have the changes shaped your business?
Retail chains and the consolidation of animal health companies and veterinary clinics. There more super-premium pet food and longer-acting drugs.

Describe your leadership style and how it has helped you be successful in the pet industry.
You have to be enthusiastic, bold, and show endless initiative. Having a Wharton MBA has helped a lot. We offer consulting services in areas where clients dare not enter.

dave_friedmans_head_shot.Dave Friedman
VP of Sales, Product Development
Health Extension Pet Care
Deer Park, New York
Years in the Industry: 20+

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
A family member owned a manufacturing facility in upstate New York and needed someone to be his eyes and ears and learn the business from the ground up with the ultimate goal to have a leadership position as general manager.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
At Chenango Valley, I was instrumental in the early stages of the pet industry’s super premium food explosion. One of the most demanding, and innovative clients at the time was a small less recognized brand called Vets Choice. When I was recruited by leadership to join their organization I was given the opportunity to grow the brand into what it is today.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Without a doubt was when I was offered an opportunity to join a small but promising Pet Food Company two decades ago named Vets Choice.

What issues need more attention from the pet industry and why?
As we constantly look towards the future, the industry has to make sure the information they put out about their products is readily available. Ingredients and manufacturing processes have to be as transparent as possible and lastly we all have to be involved in our industry by measuring what matters through transparency that builds trust throughout the entire supply chain.

bob_and_susan_close_upDr. Bob and Susan Goldstein
Co-founders and co-CEOs
Earth Animal
Southport, Connecticut
Years in the Industry: 40

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Back in the 1970s, we became concerned with the amount of degenerative diseases (such as cancer and arthritis), we were seeing in younger animals in our veterinary practice. Over time we were able to link these diseases with the feeding of poor quality, chemically laced pet foods as well as flea and tick products containing harmful insecticides and pesticides. We were personally touched by the healing of our own dog, Leigh, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever who was suff ering from crippling arthritis. Leigh’s miraculous response to a wholesome, fresh, home cooked diet and supplements allowed Leigh to recover and live pain free until the ripe old age of 17. Th is experience inspired us to go into the pet industry.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Creating the awareness of the adverse health eff ects of poor quality food containing feed grade ingredients and by-products, over-vaccination, the adverse effects of harsh chemicals and insecticides on the health, well-being and longevity of dogs and cats. In 1979, we helped kick start a movement changing the consciousness of using the word “owner” with regards to our beloved animals and helped popularize in the early 1980s the terms “companion animal” and “pet parent.” We felt strongly early on that we do not own our spouse, we do not own our children and we certainly do not own our animals.

rob_jacksonRob Jackson
Co-founder and CEO
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
Bellevue, Washington
Years in the Industry: 29

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Rob and co-founder Steve Siadek met through a local, no-kill animal shelter where he adopted his dogs. As pet parents, they envisioned a business that viewed pets as members of the family, and contributed to the well-being of all pets via a foundation designed to help pay for critical medical care for homeless dogs and cats.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Rob’s biggest accomplishment in the pet industry is co-founding Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Born out of the global financial crisis, Healthy Paws was founded to alleviate the financial burden many pet parents face when a major or unexpected vet expense comes up. The Healthy Paws policy offers all-inclusive coverage and protection at an aff ordable monthly rate, allowing pet parents to give their pets the best care possible without worrying about the cost. In essence, Healthy Paws is really about protecting and enhancing the loving relationship between pet and pet parent.

What is something you are totally passionate about and why?
Rob is naturally a philanthropic person, both with two- and four-legged friends. In addition to his passion for pets, Rob is driven to make a diff erence for kids in his local community of Seattle. In 1998, he and his wife founded Home Court, a non-profit that uses the basketball experience as a vehicle to help kids develop winning habits.

edEdward Kunzelman
Chairman and Founder
Petland, Inc.
Chillicothe, Ohio
Years in the Industry: 50+

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My father was a traveling salesman. I would sometimes go with him and he would take me to pet stores in every town. I also raised tropical fi sh and would sell them to stores.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Building a culture of education, investing in people and caring for pets.

What is something you are totally passionate about and why?
Serving our communities and trying to make a difference wherever we may be with community service and charitable work. We support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Heartland K9s for Veterans and Pets in the Classroom on a national level, and every store also is charged with serving their local communities. Stores are feeding more than 100 K9 units and service dogs around the country.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry?
Continuing to focus on the pets—finding the best pets, selling pets and educating families on proper care.

aaron_lamsteinAaron Lamstein
Co-founder and Board Member
Worldwise and Pawscout
Novato, California
Years in the Industry: 23

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
In 1990, I had just graduated from UCLA, and Phil Genet, my “big-brother” since I was 8 years old through the Big Brother’s program, approached me about starting a business around environmen-
tally responsible products. After a lot of R&D, we saw an immense opportunity to integrate health and sustainability into the pet industry, at a time when few were focusing on that.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My first career in the pet industry, at Worldwise, was dedicated to making sustainability for pet parents easy, attractive, fun and affordable—for retailers and consumers. In my second (and current) career in the pet industry with Pawscout, I’m excited to be part of a team that’s revolutionizing the pet tag, making safer pet communities worldwide, and launching a new platform that will allow an entirely new class of tech focused pet products to be created and thrive.

How has the pet industry changed since you started and how have the changes shaped your business?
Today, at Pawscout, I’m focused exclusively on leveraging technology to create a worldwide network dedicated to pet safety and enhancing the quality of pet and pet parents’ lives through game changing technology, integrated products and apps. We couldn’t have even imagined this potential when I started in the industry.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Mariah Leal
Author / Speaker
Mariah Leal Author
Glen Cove, New York
Years in the Industry: 25+

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Coming from a single parent home and having no siblings, my dog was everything to me. My aunt married a veterinarian and from a young age, I was thirsting for knowledge about helping animals.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I always felt I gave my all to the pets and clients I worked with as a vet tech/professional groomer, my own business where I offered training to my clients. But I would have to say, after the head-on collision I was in that left me disabled, what I am doing now is my biggest contribution. I wouldn’t give up and, while doing CE courses online, I fell into being editor of the Vet Tech Degree Programs Newsletter. A bullmastiff pup that came into my life inspired me to make the biggest difference of all. The log I kept on Piper as she grew inspired me to write a series of books, “The Adventures of Piper,” that taught children through Piper’s eyes what a puppy has to learn and experience to be a good canine member of society.

What is something you are totally passionate about and why?
The work Piper and I are doing is of the utmost importance. The number of dog bites involving children is astounding as is the number of dogs relinquished to shelters. Helping to cut down on both those statistics by educating children and their families is my passion. We also want to show the positive aspects of owning a well-trained/socialized dog can bring to a family.

louis_mccannLouis McCann
President and CEO
PIJAC Canada
Ottowa, Ontario, Canada
Years in the Industry: 40

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
An innate love of pets and great sense of appreciation for those entrusted with their care. I have always had an interest in animals and their welfare. This industry is full of passionate individuals who share the same interest and devotion to improving the pet experience.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I am especially proud of the numerous partnerships developed over the years with various government agencies, national organizations and other stakeholder groups. These collaborations have led to a more productive pet industry. These relationships have helped our industry elevate its profile and become a trusted source of information to the benefit of the entire pet community.

What issues need more attention from the pet industry and why?
One of the most pressing issues, in my opinion, is where we source our pets. I know it sounds cliché but without pets there is no pet industry. Presently we are bombarded by different messages as to what represents a good source. This brings confusion and negatively affects the pet experience. Lack of a strong uniform message is another issue of importance. Continuing in this direction just leads to confusion and weakens our industry. Concerted efforts need to be put in place to help support and inform pet owners on issues of common interest like responsible pet ownership, sourcing and the importance of pets in our lives.

jamie_migdal__ceo_of_fetchfind__2017Jamie Migdal
CEO and Founder
FetchFind
Chicago, Illinois
Years in the Industry: 25

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I wanted to create a business that supported and celebrated the love people have for animals.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Developing products and services that make working with pets accessible. For a long time, it’s been a trail of breadcrumbs to fi nd your way into the pet industry, and I’d like to think I’ve made it a bit easier by creating a path for many, many people.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Changing my focus to working with pet businesses. I love pet owners; they are front of mind with every single decision we make in growing FetchFind. But creating tools for pet businesses is a way we can help the people who infl uence pet owners, and on the B2B side we can scale with greater ease and more economically.

What issues need more attention from the pet industry and why?
Educating the entire professional side. So many bright and innovative people work in the pet care space, from manufacturing to pet services, and most of us don’t have even basic understanding of animal behavior, including ethology, drive and motivation. Education would help all of our industry innovators, entrepreneurs, and workforce to create even better products and services for pets.

Peter MuhlenfeldPeter Muhlenfeld
Chief Brand Officer
Champion Petfoods
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Years in the Industry: 20

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My father founded Champion Petfoods, so as part of the family business I grew up in the industry. I’ve always been passionate about dogs and cats, and Champion provided an opportunity to work with my father in a family business in something that was a natural passion.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Creating ORIJEN. ORIJEN answered the questions of “What would we feed our own dogs?” and “How can we make a meaningful diff erence in our industry and the lives of pet lovers?” We decided we needed to go back to the beginning to mirror the foods that dogs were truly evolved to eat and to try and mimic these foods as closely as possible. ORIJEN is the phonetic spelling of “origin,” which means beginning or start. We’d like to think ORIJEN has had a signifi cant impact on how our industry and pet lovers think about nutrition for dogs and cats and the foods most appropriate to them.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Follow what I believe in, rather than trends or profi t. And, of course, dong the right thing. Pet lovers really just want to take care of their dogs and cats the best way they can. Feeding them is a tremendous responsibility for food makers, but it also brings great satisfaction if you can make a diff erence and bring job to people’s lives.

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Nina Ottosson
Designer / CEO Sweden
Outward Hound Nina Ottosson AB
Karlskoga, Orebro, Sweden
Years in the Industry: 27

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
When my two kids were born a year and a half apart, I did not have time to activate my dogs the way they and I were used to. I had two Bouvier des Flandres that I used to train and compete with. My bad conscience made me start thinking about how to activate my dogs in a simple, fun and varied way indoors, and since 1990 I have worked with development and design of dog treat puzzle games and toys that stimulate the dog mentally, or “brainteasers” for dogs. The games are fun and creative, easy to play with indoors or outdoors, and are developed with the dog’s natural movements and instincts in mind.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I have worked hard to raise awareness about mental stimulation for dogs and to convince people that mental activation is an important part of a dog’s health, as well as cats and other pets, and I am proud to have improved the quality of life for so many dogs and other pets around the world. What started out as a fun way to activate your dog and enhance your bond, has slowly gained acceptance by dog trainers and behaviorists as a great training tool, that many dog owners around the world have embraced.

Dave-Ratner_1098pxDave Ratner
President
Dave’s Soda and Pet City
Agawam, Massachusetts
Years in the Industry: 40

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Women! I needed help meeting women so I bought a puppy. As I was buying dog food for Bentley Beagle, I noticed there was more pet food in the supermarket than soda. So I called 9 Lives and Purina and started carrying pet food in my soda stores. Years later I realized I needed private label foods for my stores. I couldn’t meet the minimums so I decided to start wholesaling the food.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I was blessed with the ability to communicate well. I started doing seminars about marketing, management and running pet stores about 15 years ago at the HH Backer shows. I still do seminars for retailers at Global and SuperZoo. Writing articles in Pet Age for over 10 years was also a wonderful way to share my take on how to run a successful business. I really feel like I have coached hundreds of retailers on how to run a better business. What a great feeling!

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Hands down, coming out with my own brand of food was the best thing I ever did. I knew what products we needed at what price points and had the chutzpah to go into hock to get the products launched.

elwynsegrest_founderElwyn Segrest
President
Segrest Inc. and Segrest Farms Inc.
Gibsonton, Florida
Years in the Industry: 55

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I was an avid tropical fish hobbyist so it was a natural thing to do for me.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Making sure our companies ship the highest quality animals to all our customers, therefore benefi ting the hobbyist and growing the hobby.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Hiring the best people and placing them in the best places so that Segrest Inc. will continue to grow.

How has the pet industry changed since you started and how have the changes shaped your business?
The industry has evolved to a much more sophisticated industry in terms of shop owners, quality aquatic systems and knowledge of products sold to the hobbyist.

iconn_psgpettechThomas Somes
Pet Safety Guy
Pet Tech Productions, Inc.
Carlsbad, California
Years in the Industry: 23

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My love of animals and emergency medicine came together with just one question that was asked of me in the early ‘90s. I was an affiliate faculty at the Cardiac Training Center teaching a human CPR class for the City of San Diego. A student asked, “Will this work on my dog?” It was the power of that question and my readiness to see it as an opportunity that started us on the path to develop what is now the premiere pet CPR, fi rst aid and care training on the planet.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Helping pet parents and pet care professionals learn how to better care for their pets in emergency and in health, so they have a healthier, happier and longer relationship with their furry four-legged family members. We feel this is a priceless contribution as we receive several testimonials every week of pet parents and pet care professionals thanking us for teaching the skills that helped to save their pets’ lives.

What issues need more attention from the pet industry and why?
Education, community and empowerment for pet parents and pet care professionals.

beth_sommers_president__cmo_of_pura_naturals_pet_with_girlfriendBeth Sommers
President and Chief Marketing Officer
Pura Naturals Pet
Seattle, Washington
Years in the Industry: 28

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I love animals, all animals. I grew up only allowed to have goldfish. I met Gayle Martz, the founder of the Sherpa bag, and she opened my eyes. I have been involved in the pet industry since that day when I met Gayle in 1989. The idea for Pura Naturals Pet was something I had been thinking about for a long time. My dog, Girlfriend, who passed away in 2016, was highly allergic to so many products and food. I could never understand why there were so few options for the pets we love to hold and snuggle. I too am highly allergic and love the fact that I can use our products on myself.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Giving pet owners eco-friendly tools to raise and care for their pet in the healthiest way possible. Pets are our family members, and I want to be their voice. That’s why it was important to make products in the U.S.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
Creating a brand that I believe in, and working with a group of people who share similar ideals and passion regarding the health and safety of our pets.

kurtstrickerKurt Stricker
Owner
Pedigree Ovens and The Pound Bakery
Harvard, Illinois
Years in the Industry: 20

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Twenty years ago I was working with my family at a local bakery. I had decided I wanted to branch off on my own and I had originally planned to start my own human bakery. In preparation for starting my new business, I went to an auction to start purchasing bakery equipment. While I was there I found out that the company holding the auction had previously baked pet treats. As I found out a little more about that company, I realized that the treats were extremely low quality and not made with very good ingredients. Th is made me realize that the quality of treats in the pet industry was lacking and I decided that I wanted to get into the pet industry and start making more “humanized” and healthy pet treats.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My experience working in the human baking industry has really helped me bring a more humanized attitude to the pet industry. My family has owned and run bakeries for three generations. I grew up baking and working hard at our family shop. I also graduated from UW-Madison’s food science program. I’ve brought that experience with me when I decided to start Pedigree Ovens and Th e Pound Bakery. Everything we make here is all natural and human grade and over the past 20 years, we’ve helped hundreds of companies get started in the industry and increase the number of healthy treats available for pets.

rdt_headshot_03.17Richard Ticktin CEO
SynergyLabs
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Years in the Industry: 22

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Beginning in 1995 Richard Ticktin founded Flea Doctor, now SynergyLabs, with the single-minded desire to stand for excellence—in the products produced, in the people hired, in the partnerships forged and distribution channels created.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
We are best known for our research and exceptionally developed chemistry to create the best products for pets, at the same or greater efficacy that you would find from a veterinarian. Our emphasis is and has always been on creating quality and efficacious products for pets, with the pet owners second and the business third.

What is the best decision you’ve made during your career in the pet industry and why?
At SynergyLabs, the team is very proud of its long history of safety for its employees, its customers and their pets. The company takes deep pride in its product chemistry, its innovation, and its value standards, which has proven a successful combination in accumulating new customers worldwide.

img_3868Sylvia Wilson
Director and Co-founder
Bark Busters Dog Training
Escondido, California
Years in the Industry: 28

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I was managing an animal shelter for over 10 years and tired of seeing people surrender their dogs for behavioral issues. I already had a strong background in addressing training and behavioral issues of dogs, as did my husband too. We knew that we could help reduce the number of surrenders to shelters and rescue groups, if people would just understand the needs of the creature they had taken into their world. I resigned from my job and we formed Bark Busters in 1989.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My biggest contribution is saving dogs’ lives, dogs that were deemed to be beyond help. Bark Busters has also changed people’s lives; we have over 300 franchisees worldwide who are now working with dogs in their dream job. Th ey now have the ability to help desperate dog parents’, to keep their pets. We have saved thousands of dogs’ lives, many on their last chance.

What is something you are totally passionate about and why?
I am very passionate about dogs, dog psychology and behavior and in helping people understand their dog and why they must educate their dog. I firmly believe that dogs need their education too. Dog behavior and dog psychology are my passion. I believe that when we take them away from their mother and litter mates, that we interrupt their education and we owe it to them to fi ll that void.

 

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