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Pet Age
 

December 13, 2017

Pet Age is proud to present the 2017 winners of our Forty Under 40 awards. These remarkable individuals, who were 39 years old or younger at the time of their nomination, have earned top decision making positions within their respective organizations. And while these industry players have likely just gotten started, they’ve already made impressive contributions to the pet retail world.

This year’s Forty Under 40 winners, like those that came before them, have a range of experiences, represent a variety of regions and serve in many different capacities. However, they all possess a passion for pets and the people that love them. Many may even find similarities in what inspired or led each of them to enter the pet industry.

Both John Moyles and Mary Helen Horn had fond childhood memories involving pets—and so many do, both within and without the pet business. Moyles recalls frequently visiting pet stores while growing up in Queens, New York, with his mother. His interactions with store employees and experience with “pets ranging from hamsters to snakes and, of course, fish,” had a lasting impact. He’s now the president of the Green Bay Aquarium Society, with 24 years in the industry at only 37 years of age. Horn remembers dreaming of a career as a veterinarian from a young age. Though her schooling would focus on a different field, Horn began to examine the relationship between improved nutrition and pet health after her beloved boxer, Bailey, was diagnosed with cancer. As president of Ziwi USA, Inc., Horn strives to educate pet parents world-wide on the importance of pet nutrition, offering their companions a “nutrient-dense, biologically-appropriate diet.”

On the other hand, the “ah-ha” moments for Jamaica Winship and Melissa Halliburton came later in life, sparked by first-hand experiences with their own pets. Winship first became a dog owner in 2013 and became concerned when her beloved Chucko lost interest in his food. After a local retailer recommended she try using Vittles Vault to keep her pet’s food fresh, she loved the product so much that she pursued a job with the company after realizing it was based only a short distance from her home. Melissa Halliburton created BringFido, a pet-centric travel site, after a rollercoaster of a journey to a friend’s wedding, during which Halliburton realized the need for a centralized database for hotel pet policies. The site now also includes information on petfriendly restaurants, attractions and events.

These origin stories are only a small sample of the many experiences recalled by our Forty Under 40 awardees, who were chosen by an independent panel of judges (who all happen to be Forty Under 40 awardees from previous years), including Jason Casto, director of Kaytee Hard Goods/Pets; Erin Breig, managing director of Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique; and Ian Weiss, VP of Sales for Arlee Pet Products.

Congratulations to all the winners!

 

adamkatz.jpegAdam Katz
Director of Strategic Accounts
Health Extension
Deer Park, New York

Company Description: Health Extension provides independent pet store owners with foods they can be proud to sell as their own. By committing to the finest holistic ingredients at the best possible price, Health Extension gives pets the nutrition they need and retailers the competitive advantage they need.
Primary Job Function: Sales
Years in Industry: 15

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Growing up, I always had dogs in my house. They brought so much joy to my family and me. Having my father in the pet industry only helped fuel my desire to want to work in this rewarding industry.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/
or pet owners?
I believe that I bring a very creative and fun approach to this industry. I enjoy showcasing my personality and sense of humor through my work.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I enjoy working with the people in this industry. I have met some incredible people along the way who have taught me so much about the pet industry. Some of my best friends are customers, reps and even buyers. I feel very fortunate to work with and alongside some of the smartest people I have ever met.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
Growing up with a younger brother with Autism, I would give to any organization that supports special needs children. I have seen first-hand the challenges that families face when impacted by Autism and other childhood disabilities.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
Most people would be surprised to know that I played collegiate ice hockey. My first job after graduating college was working for a minor league hockey team.

 

amanda_peterson_social_media__pr_manager__petmateAmanda Peterson
Social Media & Public Relations Manager
Petmate
Arlington, Texas

Company Description: Worldwide leader of solutions and excellence in the pet industry.
Primary Job Function: Marketing & Public Relations
Years in Industry: 5

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Since childhood, I have been an animal lover, advocate and dedicated owner of a variety of pets. When I was 2 years old, my family adopted a chi-weenie, and she and I became fast friends. When she passed away at 12 years old, I wrote an obituary for her and held a memorial ceremony in our backyard. To this day, my four dogs are my family. In addition to pet parenting, I’m also actively involved in animal rescue and adoption through an all-volunteer foster organization called Dallas Pets Alive! I foster and rehabilitate dogs that are saved from the shelter, as well as lead their digital marketing efforts. Pets have always been, and will continue to be, a huge part of my life.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
By incorporating social media marketing into Petmate’s existing marketing plans, I helped reach pet parents where I knew they were engaging and sharing as part of a larger community. It’s nearly impossible to browse a social media channel without seeing cute pictures of pets, so by activating that audience we are able to entertain, engage and educate a wider audience of pet parents. Additionally, as a manufacturer, we can provide life-saving supplies to pets in need after natural disasters. With my contacts in the pet rescue world, I’m able to connect the heroes in the field with the supplies they need to save as many lives as possible, as we did in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Aside from our pet-friendly office and the fact that I can bring my dogs to work with me? The reach of our products. Petmate is a worldwide company, and it’s always fascinating to me to see our products in use in countries around the globe.

 

40under40Andrew Groth
President
PetzLife Products, Inc.
Spring Park, Minnesota

Company Description: PetzLife is dedicated to creating innovative, all-natural products that improve pets’ lives. They are 100 percent guaranteed, natural, veterinarian formulated and recommended and made in the USA.
Primary Job Function: Overseeing sales, marketing, production, and many other hats that fi t my head depending on the day.
Years in Industry: 15

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
What’s cooler than being a part of something you love and that is as rewarding as helping pets? My biggest inspiration was in 2002 when my father was doing research and found that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. With the only option to help these issues being to perform an anesthesia scaling by the vet, this was alarming to say the least. PetzLife was then started from this issue and a natural formulation of essential oils and extracts to remove tartar and heal gum disease began. We tested and tweaked this formulation many times with a veterinarian and chemist to get the ideal effi cacy and safety. Our initial plan was to start anesthesia-free dental clinics nationwide but it was not feasible after crunching the numbers. We still wanted to help this worldwide issue, so I came on board full time and we started marketing the PetzLife Spray as an “at-home” dental care solution.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Now that we have been in the market for over a decade and with millions of bottles sold, I can safely say we have helped the lives of thousands of pets. Hearing firsthand stories from their owners brings the most unbelievable satisfaction. Pet oral care will very soon be a billion-dollar category in the industry and I hope that I have played a part in getting the awareness out there.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
Follow my instincts and never fear bringing current ideas to the table or innovative products to market.

 

apf_billyhoekman_4x6_300dpiBilly Hoekman
Natural Science Coordinator
Answers Pet Food
Fleetwood, Pennsylvania

Company Description: We are the only producer of fermented raw pet foods.
Primary Job Function: Nutrition and health consultations; R&D; training; and public speaking.
Years in Industry: 7

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My dog. I never had a dog growing up so when I got Lua, I had to learn how to take care of her very quickly. The first order of business was food. In my research, I fell in love with food science for both her and me, and I’ve never looked back. My favorite thing about science is having the ability to learn new things. For years before Answers Pet Food, I was pouring over research and making my own food. But when I found them, they were the only product I was using due to their nutritional basis, ethics and transparency. One day over breakfast I thought to myself, “I should do this for a living.” I wrote my now-boss (who I didn’t know at the time) a very long email about myself and my love for science and the ending was, “You have to hire me because I can’t work for anyone else.” And she did.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
The biggest contribution I make to the industry is the ability to meet the average consumer where they are in terms of their animal’s nutrition and help them. The reason we should all be in this industry in the fi rst place is to help animals. Whether it’s developing a product, helping someone through a health issue or even suggesting things they can add to their animal’s diet at home, my main concern is to increase the probability that they will live a happy and healthy life.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The animals and the people. I spend a lot of time speaking all over the country, which means a lot of travel. For instance, going on speaking tours that last over two weeks can be very physically taxing. Getting to meet pets and their people who I’ve helped at these events really keeps me going.

 

brett_simmons_printBrett Simmons
Plant Manager
Carnivore Meat Company
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Company Description: Carnivore Meat Company, the nation’s leading provider of premium frozen and freeze-dried pet food and pet treats, is the most tenured raw pet food producer in the nation. The family owned company is located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Primary Job Function: Management, Manufacturing
Years in Industry: 11

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
As an avid outdoorsman, I have an appreciation for all things related to our environment along with animal health and welfare. My tenure with the company has increased my knowledge of pet nutrition exponentially over the past 11 years. I’m blessed to experience the health benefi ts of raw feeding fi rst-hand with my own dogs, which gives me a truly unique perspective in the product development process and manufacturing.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Being part of a truly innovative and unique pet food company in various manufacturing positions allows me to directly impact the quality of our products and their availability worldwide. This meets Carnivore Meat Company’s mission, which is to ensure we provide the healthiest and most delicious, innovative and biologically appropriate pet food to every dog parent or cat parent. I’m proud to lead a world class manufacturing team that allows me to train and mentor others.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The phenomenal growth in our category—raw frozen and freeze-dried pet food. There has been a signifi cant shift among pet parents who are looking for more nutritious and natural foods, treats and snacks for their dogs and cats. We’re on the forefront of that wave being the most tenured raw pet food company in the nation. Plus, it’s very fulfi lling when pet parents contact us to share stories about the improvement in their pet’s health because of our foods.

 

cassandra_norris_social_media_strategistCassandra Norris
Social Media Strategist
Matrix Partners
Chicago, Illinois

Company Description: Passionate about pets since 1987, Matrix Partners is one of the nation’s only award-winning full-service, independent agencies focusing on pet marketing and communications.
Primary Job Function: Managing the social media department and overseeing all social media efforts for clients
Years in Industry: 2

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I’ve always been a pet person, so when I saw the job opening at Matrix, I was intrigued. I didn’t actively seek out the pet industry specifi cally, but once I acclimated to Matrix and the industry, I found that I was doing something I love every day: talking about pets and products that are good for those pets.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
In my position, I’m able to introduce people to products that can make their pets’ lives better. I’m tasked with educating and entertaining pet parents, as well as promoting products that I believe in. As a social media marketer, I’m able to do those things in very diverse and interactive arenas, which helps my clients grow and helps give consumers options.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The pets! I’m lucky enough to get to read and write about pets all day, which is as good as it gets for someone who loves animals as much as I do.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
Just how many intricacies and types of foods/treats there are. Prior to entering the pet industry, I had no idea what benefi ts my pets were missing out on, or really what to look for when I shopped for them.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
I have two passions: pets and literacy. The majority of my funding would go to help homeless or special needs pets, but I would also allocate some funds to youth literacy programs.

 

chris_langellotti_director_of_training_and_developmentChris Langellotti
Director of Training and Development; Canadian National Sales Manager; Sales Team Lead for the Northeast
Weruva
Natick, Massachusetts

Company Description: Weruva is a luxurious, natural pet food inspired by and named after our founders David and Stacie Forman’s three rescued cats: Webster, Rudi and Vanessa.
Primary Job Function: Training and Development; Sales Management
Years in Industry: 6+

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My wife, Jodi, has always been very knowledgeable and passionate about companion animals. It was her passion and excitement for the industry that first sparked my interest.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I am very lucky that my contribution is also my passion—I love to teach and coach. My favorite role at Weruva is molding inexperienced, nervous (and oftentimes young) sales reps into confi dent, passionate, knowledgeable and trustworthy business advisors. Yes, they become great reps. But they also become more than that. They become people who can off er sincere insight and advice to their retailers, colleagues and customers. And for those that show the desire, I coach them to become teachers and trainers themselves. The whole process, while hard work, is also richly rewarding and deeply satisfying.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I love meeting, helping and speaking to people. Even on their worst days, people are so much happier in this industry. I also get great satisfaction from the knowledge a dog or cat is going to get a fantastic meal—a meal they will really enjoy. And I love watching people discover Weruva for the first time.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
For many of my adult years, just before I joined the pet industry, I was a professional saxophone player. I played in military, jazz, jam and rock bands. I am also very passionate about powerlifting.

 

080617_cynthia_szamborski_40underforty_schlickart4597srgb3Cynthia Szamborski
Owner
Purrfect Paw Prints
Canyon Country, California

Company Description: Mobile pet spa with emphasis on the health of our
clients’ pets.
Primary Job Function: Groomer/HR
Years in Industry: 5

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I wanted to give back to my pets who have given me all the joy in this world. Also to be able to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Educating my clients and other pet owners about the right products and services for their pets. I explain how certain services can aff ect the health of their pets and guide them in the correct path. I’ve passed on my knowledge that I’ve gained in all the pet industry expos that I’ve attended. Created services to help keep pets health and happy.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Seeing all these pets living a healthier and happier life.

What was your best or worst day in the pet industry?
The best and worst day was when a client of mine emailed me to inform me that Rex, her dog, had passed. Then she went on to thank me for making his time here that much better. We had started off ering mud treatments for dogs with mobility issues. Rex couldn’t turn without pain and when he started to get these treatments, he started to feel like a young pup again. It brought both my client and Rex so much joy and of course I was glad that I started off ering this service.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
Animal rescues. I’m a volunteer at Southern California Pomeranian Rescue, and they do so much amazing work and they could do more if they had the funds for it.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m actually a degreed mechanical engineer. I left that industry and pursued the pet industry. I’ve applied for veterinary school this year.

 

danDan Goodnow
CEO
The Natural Dog Company
Windsor, Colorado

Company Description: The Natural Dog Company specializes in natural chews and treats for dogs.
Primary Job Function: Reaching out to independent pet stores throughout the country.
Years in Industry: 8

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
When my wife and I got married, we gave each other a rescue dog as a wedding gift. We already had a hound/lab mix who was a great, low-key dog who slept most of the day, but my wife felt like our dog needed a companion to play with—a playing partner that would keep her young. Well, we got a very spunky rescue dog and named her Tuesday. As a puppy she ran, barked and chewed up everything in sight (including the flat part of the wall whenever she was bored). I was desperate to find something to keep her occupied (and my walls intact). Eventually, I found bully sticks were the only thing that would slow her down. In starting my company, I wanted other dog owners struggling with the same issues we had with Tuesday to find healthy, long-lasting chews they could trust to keep their dog occupied. As a result, we put Tuesday’s picture on the Natural Dog Company logo and her face is on every bag of chews we sell.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
In the side of the pet industry we work in—the dog chew world—one of the biggest questions customers ask is, ‘How long will this chew last?’ It is hard for a customer to determine how long a bully stick will last just by looking at it. We determined that the density of a bully stick, not its diameter, is a good indication of chew time; we were the first company to sell our bully sticks, and then our antlers, by weight rather than a combination of diameter and length. We have seen other companies follow suit, and we are excited that this way of handling dog chews has become such a success. We believe it is the fairest way to sell dog chews and our customers are better served because of it.

 

Dan Nagy-2017 RGBDan Nagy
Sales Manager
Loving Pets Corporation
Cranbury, New Jersey

Company Description: Loving Pets Corporation is a USA-based manufacturer of dog and cat treats and feeding accessories.
Primary Job Function: Achieving growth and hitting sales numbers by successfully managing the sales team.
Years in Industry: 9

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Being a pet owner and seeing the joy that our faithful companions can bring to so many is what inspired me to be in the pet industry.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My biggest contribution to the pet industry and pet owners is the fact that I am a pet owner myself. I am highly involved with the product development at Loving Pets and so is the rest of the team here. We only produce high quality products with healthy ingredients because we feed and use the products for our own pets.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The people within the industry. It really is a diverse industry that grows every single day. People love their faithful companions, and I have met people from all different nationalities and religions that share the same compassion for animals.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
If I had a million dollars to give, I would give it to the organizations that are supporting animals and families from the most recent natural disasters (earthquake in Mexico; hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas).

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
I am very focused on my job, so when I am at work, people tend to only see one side of me. Outside of work I am a completely different person; I love sports, cars, and spending time with friends and family.

 

daniel_gross_pic_for_pet_ageDaniel Gross
COO
Prairie Dog Pet Products
Grand Prairie, Texas

Company Description: Leading private label manufacturer of dog treats.
Primary Job Function: Operations of the company including sales, financeand supply chain.
Years in Industry: 2

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Weebles, my silky terrier! When I took him home in 2006, there were such limited healthy pet food and treat options, despite all the innovation in human food. So I thought there was a huge opportunity to innovate in the pet industry with healthier options and make Weebles happy at the same time.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Making the highest quality pet treats available to the mass consumer—by vertically integrating and focusing on lean manufacturing, we’ve been able to make the highest quality, USA jerky available to pet owners at aff ordable prices.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I love the entrepreneurs you meet in the industry. From a few college roommates who partnered with a cattle company in Colombia to get into the natural parts business to someone who started making jerky out of his backyard and became a huge national supplier, I think entrepreneurs in pet are the scrappiest and most passionate business founders out there.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
How globally dependent the supply chain is. Whether it’s packaging, equipment or natural parts, we do business with almost every continent in the world, which has been one of the most interesting parts of my job but also challenging to adapt to the customs and nomenclature of how business is conducted across the world.

 

David Collado-0006David Collado
President
Happy Howie’s, Inc.
Detroit, Michigan

Company Description: Happy Howie’s makes all natural dog treats in Detroit, Michigan. They are deli-style meat treats that excite pets unlike any other.
Primary Job Function: Serve our customers and my team.
Years in Industry: 6

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I was offered a unique opportunity to run Happy Howie’s when it only had seven employees. After a few short years, I fell in love with the company and the industry. I have no regrets.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
An opportunity to give dogs a treat experience that they’ll never forget.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The opportunities for growth are endless.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
How much fun it would be.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
Responsible pet ownership.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
I was born in Bronx, New York.

What’s your favorite animal? Why?
Dogs, because of their unconditional love.

 

faganElizabeth Fagan
Director of Marketing
Planet Dog
Westbrook, Maine

Company Description: For over 20 years, Planet Dog has been a leader in designing and manufacturing made-in-the-USA, eco-friendly, durable dog toys.
Primary Job Function: Development and implementation of the brand strategy, customer experience and all internal and external communications.
Years in Industry: 2

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I’ve always been passionate about marketing, but not particularly about what I was marketing. One night I came home, after a very long day, to my pups and had my “ah ha” moment. I can’t say it was that exact moment where I was like, “the pet industry,” but it was that exact moment when I knew I needed to fi nd a place where I could truly believe in what I was marketing. Honestly, it really was either dogs, music or wine. I think I made the right choice.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Without a doubt, the biggest contribution I’ve been able to make is helping pet parents understand the importance of play. It not only keeps dogs healthy, but it absolutely increases the bond between canines and their humans, which is so essential to not only the dog’s well-being but ours as well.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
It’s so fun! I tell people all the time, “even on my worst days I’m still working with dogs and toys, so there really are no bad days.”

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
How many unhealthy choices there are on the market. I was very naïve before being fully immersed in the dog industry as a professional. I now truly understood the importance of the choices we as pet parents make, particularly when it comes to the quality of food production and the toys we give our pets.

 

garret4Garret Tadlock
Founder and CEO
PawLoyalty
Sonoma, California

Company Description: A complete business management platform for facility-based pet care providers (boarding, daycare, training, and grooming).
Primary Job Function: CEO
Years in Industry: 8

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Coming from a technology consulting background, I have always loved working with executives to understand their business problems and determine how to leverage technology to create innovative, leading edge solutions. About 10 years ago, a friend had a last minute trip coming up so we went online and scheduled the fl ight, hotel and rental car. The last step was making sure his dog was going to be cared for, but getting a facility in his area to answer the phone was impossible and no one had a tool on their website to allow online reservations. This is what sparked the idea and after a few months of R&D, we determined that facility-based pet care providers were due for an entire technology solution upgrade. So we set to work building a full business management solution that would help these business owners manage their entire operation from online registration request to delivery of services. The entire journey has been incredibly collaborative and rewarding. The brain share with our customers into what I call a “community built platform” has allowed PawLoyalty to pull ahead and off er a solution that is in a league of its own.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Leveraging technology plays an enormous role in how businesses today provide exceptional customer service at scale and the pet industry is no diff erent. My contribution has been laser focused on how pet care facilities can improve the health, safety and experience of their guest; optimize operations; make it simple for employees to do their jobs eff ectively; and to give business owners the reports, business intelligence and tools they need to make smart decisions to propel their business’ growth.

 

jamaicawinshipheadshotJamaica Winship
Vice President of Business Development
GAMMA2, Inc.
Carlsbad, California

Company Description: GAMMA2 is a U.S.-based design and manufacturing firm, known for making the Vittles Vault pet food storage container.
Primary Job Function: Building awareness and elevating our brand reputation at the B2C and B2B level
Years in Industry: 2

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I got my first dog, Chucko the Australian shepherd, in 2013. I had no idea how fulfilling my life with a dog could be. They truly are man’s best friend! When he began losing interest in his pet food within a few days of the bag being opened, my local pet store advised me to get a Vittles Vault to keep his food fresh. I noticed an immediate difference, and my pup enjoys his food to the last scoop. I saw from the label that the company was based in Carlsbad, California, just a few miles from my home! I knew right away that I wanted to work for a company that made such an important and high quality product.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Modernizing the marketing in the pet industry has been one of my main goals. From talking to retailers about setting up ecommerce sites, to getting our reps and retailers more involved with our social media, influencer and blog content programs, I am starting to see people “get it.” Over time, I’d like to put together programs that retailers and manufacturers can use to systematize what we’ve been having success with here at GAMMA2.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I get to come to work every day doing something I love. I really like that the products we make and the marketing I do helps pets and pet parents.

 

img_2383Jamie Baxter
Pet Division Manager
The Impetus Agency
Reno, Nevada

Company Description: As the most experienced agency in the pet industry, our team provides clients with effective, award-winning social media, public relations and marketing campaigns.
Primary Job Function: Manage public relations and marketing efforts for clients in the pet industry
Years in Industry: 9

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Upon first joining The Impetus Agency, I was drawn to their involvement in the pet industry. I dove headfirst into this ever-changing and energetic world without hesitation and absorbed as much information as I possibly could about the growing industry. I was inspired by the passion and enthusiasm that came from the people dedicating their lives to either help pets directly or help enhance the relationship between pets and their owners. At the end of the day, pets are just flat out fun and adorable. When that’s your job, it makes things a lot more enjoyable.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Throughout my tenure, I have worked with a variety of clients, including manufacturers, associations, nonprofits and more. From helping with Kickstarter campaigns for companies breaking into the industry to national marketing campaigns charged with promoting and growing responsible pet ownership, I believe my industry knowledge and connections coupled with quick wit and a creative mind are my biggest contributions. I have also assisted with media relations and worked the press office at Global Pet Expo for eight years. Since that time, I have established many relationships with media around the globe. This allows me to play a key role in promoting the world’s largest annual pet products trade show to pet bloggers, national and industry media, which I’m very proud to do.

 

jladolpheJennifer Adolphe
Senior Nutritionist
Petcurean
Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

Company Description: Petcurean is a family-owned Canadian company that creates nutritionally balanced and premium-quality pet food recipes that always put pets first.
Primary Job Function: Research and development
Years in Industry: 5

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I have been passionate about nutrition for as long as I can remember. I started my career as a registered dietitian, working with people to improve their lives through better nutrition. About 10 years ago, I decided that I wanted to combine my love of pets with my knowledge in nutrition and started a Ph.D. in companion animal nutrition. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as I now have an exciting and interesting career in the pet food industry helping to improve the lives of pets through nutrition.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My personal ‘pet’ project has been to raise awareness about pet obesity. Pets are becoming obese at an alarming rate. Keeping our pets at an ideal body weight is one of the best things we can do to keep them healthy, especially since we have a significant amount of control over how much food they eat and how much exercise they get. I take advantage of any opportunity to raise awareness about pet obesity—in the media, conference presentations and educational publications.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The people and the pets. The pet industry seems to attract great people who are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and sincere about their work—all of which are qualities that I greatly value in creating new business relationships. And, of course, nothing is better than working with pets and knowing that what I do helps improve their lives.

 

john_1John Moyles
President
Green Bay Aquarium Society
Menasha, Wisconsin

Company Description: The purpose of the Green Bay Aquarium Society is to further the study of all forms of aquatic life, to promote interest, exchange ideas, distribute information concerning the aquarium hobby, and to encourage the breeding and display of aquatic life.
Primary Job Function: Oversees the general activities of the society
Years in Industry: 24

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I have had a lifelong love, some might say obsession, with animals. I grew up in Queens, New York, and my mother used to take me to the pet shop when I was a toddler because it was cheaper than a trip to the zoo. I remember that they had a huge pacu that they used to feed goldfish, and the staff seemed to know everything about animals. They would share that knowledge with me as I would bring home an assortment of pets ranging from hamsters to snakes and, of course, fish. Their sharing of knowledge and helping the community is what inspired me to get involved in the pet industry by sharing my own passion.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I feel that my biggest contribution to the pet industry is the Green Bay Aquarium Society. It started back in 1982 and I didn’t join until 2010, but since I have been a member we have grown to hold the biggest events in the state of Wisconsin. We now hold two auctions and a swap meet which draw huge crowds. I also spearheaded the idea of working with University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Staff in forming a surrender network in order to give people an option for their unwanted pets other than release into the wild. This project has been hugely successful and has prevented the release of over 100 animals per year. We are now working to bring the program to neighboring states.

 

Josh JonesJoshua Jones
Director, Legislative and Regulatory Engagement
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Alexandria, Virginia

Company Description: PIJAC works to monitor and affect legislation and regulation that promotes responsible pet ownership and animal well-being, fosters environmental stewardship and ensures the availability of pets.
Primary Job Function: Government Affairs & Association Management
Years in Industry: 5

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
A passion for pets sparked by a lifetime of pet ownership and the opportunity to work on important issues with talented government affairs professionals and with legends of the U.S. pet industry—the same people that safely and responsibly bring pets, pet services and pet products to you, me, and our families throughout our lifetime to protect our rights and freedoms to enjoy responsibly raised pets so all who wish to benefit from the human-animal bond may do so responsibly.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
Advocating for animal welfare, pet businesses and pet ownership by bridging gaps and improving relationships with elected officials and regulators at all levels of government.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The passion and dedication of the people to their businesses and to animal welfare really shines as we work together on issues impacting the U.S. pet industry. Whether they are in marketing, a CEO, a sales associate, or working directly with animal care and husbandry, these professionals truly care about animals.

What’s your favorite animal? Why?
It’s a tossup between our two crested geckos and Penny, our Boston terrier! Each is fascinating to care for and fun to talk about and play with when friends or family are visiting.

 

libuheadshotLibu Chacko
Vice President of Technology
Pura Naturals Pet
Seattle, Washington

Company Description: Pura Naturals Pet strives to create products that help our pets live longer, healthier lives and are made in the USA.
Primary Job Function: I manage back office systems and operations as it relates to technology.
Years in Industry: 2

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I’ve worked across many industries but none of which really had an impact in the world around me. There’s a sense of fulfillment you get when you help someone, and you get it two-fold when you help a pet and their parent(s). Being in the technology space, I’m in the unique position of creating an infrastructure for Pura Naturals Pet that is forging new ground in the pet industry and making real strides in the way we take care of our pets. I couldn’t pass on the chance of making a real difference.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My biggest contribution is making life easier for business owners and helping to provide a safe and effective product for pets. On the business side, we strive to make sure that the owner or groomer can spend their time with their customers and not with back office work. For pet owners, Pura Naturals Pet creates products that are safe and made in the USA. This is a trend across many industries that businesses are trying their best to follow and Pura Naturals Pet is no different.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The client base is so diverse that I find myself devising several solutions for any particular problem in order to serve each type. This type of challenge is what I really enjoy every day. I also love hearing about the personal connections and remarkable stories between pet and parent. Another wonderful perk of the job is the joy that our products bring to our customers and to our partners.

 

ziwimaryhelenhornMary Helen Horn
President
Ziwi USA Inc.
Overland Park, Kansas

Company Description: Ziwi, the innovator and global leader in air-dried pet nutrition, produces biologically-appropriate, whole prey foods for dogs and cats. Ziwi is committed to sourcing their meats from the clean, green farms and pristine southern oceans of New Zealand.
Primary Job Function: Oversight of all company operations in the United States and Canada, driving the growth and development of the emerging category of air-dried nutrition and maintaining Ziwi’s identity as the innovator and global leader within the category
Years in Industry: 16

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I have always been passionate about pets; as a child, I dreamed about becoming a veterinarian. Later, when my beloved boxer was diagnosed with cancer, I discovered the correlation between nutrition and pet health and realized that many ailments could be treated—and possibly prevented—through improved diet and better quality ingredients. Unfortunately for Bailey, my discovery came too late. Since then, I have dedicated my career to educating pet parents on preventative nutrition.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My biggest contribution to the pet food industry has taken place during the most recent year of my career, as I established a North American headquarters for Ziwi, put into place national sales and administrative support teams, implemented and monitored online MAP compliance, and executed a rebrand and marketing campaign to expand brand awareness of Ziwi.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Our customers! Pet lovers are a passionate breed of people; and there is a growing awareness among pet lovers that it DOES matter what you feed your pets. It is extremely gratifying to be able to offer an excellent feeding option to pet owners that they may not have previously known existed.

 

melissa_halliburton_founder__ceo_of_bringfidoMelissa Halliburton
Founder and CEO
BringFido
Greenville, South Carolina

Company Description: BringFido’s website and app give dog owners the scoop on more than 200,000 pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, attractions, events, and other places to ‘bring Fido.’
Primary Job Function: When I’m not traveling the world in search of new places to feature on the website, I oversee a team of 40 pet travel experts at BringFido’s headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina.
Years in Industry: 11

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I adopted a dog named Rocco a few years after graduating from MIT. At that time (circa 2004-05), most hotels had basic brochure-style websites with no information at all about their pet policies. So, instead of booking online, pet owners like me were forced to call hotel after hotel, quizzing them about their pet policies. The final straw before launching BringFido came after I planned a trip to Cape Cod for a friend’s wedding. I wanted to bring Rocco along, and the bride okayed it. Unfortunately, the hotel where the reception was being held didn’t allow pets. I started calling all of the hotels in the area to find a place where Rocco would be welcome. It turned out to be quite difficult because the wedding was being held over the fourth of July, but I eventually found a nice bed and breakfast about an hour away. I booked it, packed a little tuxedo for Rocco, and settled in the night before the wedding. As luck would have it, I got a flat tire on the way to the wedding and had to hitch a ride to the church in a tow truck! I made it right before my friend walked down the aisle and had a good story to share at the reception afterwards. After that fiasco, I was determined to create a travel site that was specifically tailored to pet owners.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
After nearly 12 years of owning a business focused on pets, I still get excited when I come across an innovative product or unique experience for dogs. I’m also really happy to have witnessed a steady increase in the percentage of pet owners who truly embrace pets as members of their family, include them in their travel plans, and spend more quality time with their pets.

 

melissa_pedraza_photoMelissa Pedraza
General Manager
Platinum Pets
Vancouver, Washington

Company Description: Platinum Pets is dedicated to making premium pet products that allow our customers’ pets to lead safe, healthy and joyful lives.
Primary Job Function: I oversee the daily operations of Platinum Pets. My responsibilities include directing marketing and sales to develop new customer relationships, maintaining existing customer relationships and overseeing production and logistics for the company.
Years in Industry: 4

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I saw the opportunity to join Platinum Pets as the perfect chance to marry my knowledge of brands and operational expertise with my love for pets and I haven’t been disappointed with my decision. Watching pet owners engage with their animals inspires me to create opportunities for Platinum Pets to bring that joy to our customers.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I’m proud to be leading a team that is constantly striving to find better ways for our pets to lead full lives. We’ve taken a focused approach and instituted processes that allow us to develop and manufacture premium products that let pet owners pamper their furry family members. One of the greatest outcomes of these efforts is the company’s environmental track record. Our proprietary powder coating process excludes the use of volatile organic compounds. At the same time, we’re able to capture almost all of the unused powder coating and recycle it back into our system.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Who wouldn’t love to come to work each day and spend your time thinking about the pets that make our lives more fulfilling? This is a great industry to be involved with, particularly at a time when consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and interested in celebrating the colorful life of their pet.

 

melissa_van_vactor_vice_president_of_salesMelissa Van Vactor
Vice President of Sales
Bravo Pet Foods
Machester, Connecticut

Company Description: Raw pet foods and treats
Primary Job Function: Sales & Sales Management
Years in Industry: 9

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I started my work in the pet industry completely by surprise. I answered a Craigslist ad for what I expected to be a part time job while I was moving my career back to Minnesota full time. The position was an inside sales person at Sojos, which happened to be just down the road from my house. The requirement was sales experience and a love of dogs. To say that the industry fits me well would be an understatement! My eyes were opened in my first few months, and my passion for nutrition and empowering retailers grew quickly. I had my first dog before I had even graduated from college and understanding how to keep him healthy, especially in his later years, through nutrition quickly became a passion I could share with others. I also found that teaching retailers how to make the most from their floor space revenue-wise was a bridge builder to understanding why raw makes sense from many points of view. It’s a win-win both for the retailers and the pet-parents’ point of view.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I believe my most rewarding contribution, and likely the most impactful to the pet business and our network of retailers and consumers, has been to educate others about raw nutrition. Training and education foster growth for everyone from manufacturers to distributors, retailers and pet parents. I believe my best asset is encouraging others to be open to and as excited about the many benefits of truly natural pet food as I am. Working with retailers to create a profitable center of highly nutritious foods is as rewarding as seeing a pet thrive from the inside out after transitioning to a whole-food based diet.

 

michael_codyceobareitall_petfoodsMichael Cody
CEO
BareItAll Petfoods
Chicago, Illinois

Company Description: Environmentally friendly pet food company utilizing invasive species for healthy pet nutrition
Primary Job Function: CEO
Years in Industry: 3

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I got into the pet industry because there are so many opportunities to do unique and fun ideas that may not work in other industries. It’s a great challenge because you have to think about what the animal will like but package it in a way that the human customer will respond to. I’ve also always wanted to have my dog by my side at work every day and being in the pet industry seemed like the perfect way to do that.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
A unique perspective and the passion and drive to get my ideas across. I may not have been in the industry long, but our company is doing things that haven’t been tried before. We aren’t just making cool products—we’re having a real eff ect on our environment and challenging other companies to think diff erently.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Meeting all the passionate, driven people in the industry and seeing them apply that drive to create cool products. There are so many good people in this industry and many are willing to help out and off er advice willingly—something you don’t see in every industry.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
How open many people are with their knowledge; I would have joined more organizations early on and relied on other people’s experiences, but instead I got to experience them myself and grow the old fashioned way. Nothing wrong with that but it certainly could have helped avoid some hard lessons.

 

nick_fuchs_foundergemmaroseprojectNick Fuchs
CEO and Founder
Gemma Rose Project
Massapequa, New York

Company Description: Gemma Rose Project is the manufacturer of premium, rose scented dog waste bags benefi tting animal rescue organizations across the United States.
Primary Job Function: CEO
Years in Industry: 1

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My inspiration came from seeing the process of animal rescue from the inside, through the rescue of my German shepherd, Gemma Rose. Gemma was dangerously close to being euthanized in a kill shelter in rural Georgia. In working with a network of rescue organizations, my eyes were opened to all these smaller organizations that were just barely scraping by to have the resources to save just one more animal’s life. The people involved would give the clothes off their back to pull one more dog from that shelter. In seeing the kindness, the genuine care and passion of it all, I was inspired to help. I realized that the approach of asking directly for monetary donations wasn’t enough of a sustainable model to fund a rescue and its operations. This is where the brand of the Gemma Rose Project was born, to provide a sustainable avenue of funding to smaller 501(c)3 rescue operations who are struggling to survive on donations alone.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
With our current product line of rose-scented poop bags, I’d like to think that we’re saving pet owner’s noses from those stinky smelling poops of our furry loved ones. We’re also providing a level of convenience with our subscription poop bag service that allows our pet owners to never run out of waste bags and miss a walk with their pet. Above all, however, we feel like we’re sharing some important awareness and insight into the animal rescue community through our project.

 

nick_padlo__the_pet_loss_centerNick Padlo
CEO
The Pet Loss Center
Euless, Texas

Company Description: The Pet Loss Center helps pet parents through their most diffi cult days, with our nationwide network of pet funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries.
Primary Job Function: CEO
Years in Industry: 3

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
After leaving the Army, my goal was to follow a passion-driven career where I could make a real impact. My two puggles Porsche and Eleanor inspired me to want to work with pets and pet owners every day. Marrying my passion with my career was my best career decision so far.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
When we lose a pet, it can be one of the most diffi cult times of our life. And unfortunately, we just don’t do enough for pet parents during this time. We created The Pet Loss Center to provide support to veterinarians and pet parents during this time. In the next year, we will support over 100,000 pet families with the dignity and respect their pets deserve.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Pets light up our lives with smiles. Every team member at The Pet Loss Center is driven by our “why”: the four-legged friend at home. We understand pet parents’ needs, because we are pet parents ourselves. We are a like-minded family, and it makes coming to work enjoyable each day.

What was your best or worst day in the pet industry?
Every time we get a thank you letter or email from a pet parent talking about how one of our team members helped them through a dark time, it gives me strength and keeps me going. Knowing that our team members are living our “why” is my motivation each and every day.

 

rachel_chiappetta.mars_marketing_directorRachel Chiappetta
Marketing Director
Mars Petcare
Franklin, Tennessee

Company Description: Mars Petcare is the world’s leading pet nutrition and healthcare business that strives to make “A Better World for Pets” every day.
Primary Job Function: Marketing Director leading project management
Years in Industry: 8

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Pets bring out the best in us. They have this incredible, unique and rare ability to provide extreme moments of joy, comfort and compassion day in and day out. I grew up surrounded by dogs and cats and experienced first-hand the magic that happens when a pet is in your life. I knew that I wanted to help provide that same connection for others. I feel fortunate to be part of Mars Petcare, where we work to make a better world for pets every day through the products we make, our Mars Volunteer Program and our work to create more pet-friendly cities.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
In my eight years with Mars Petcare, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing teams to bring products from concept to execution. I’m proud to say that every time, these products are made with a critical focus on quality and food safety, keeping both pets and pet owners in mind by leveraging consumer insights. One of the most memorable product launches for me, personally, was CESAR Dry dog food.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I love how passionate people are about their pets. Today, the majority of pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family—they’re children and siblings who just happen to have four legs instead of two. It’s exciting to be part of an industry that plays such a signifi cant role in peoples’ lives. I see these connections every day, whether it’s someone showing me a cat video or seeing associates bring their dogs into the office. It’s amazing.

 

rebecca_secchiano_pr_account_executiveRebecca Secchiano
Public Relations Account Executive
Whitegate PR
Woodside, New York

Company Description: Whitegate PR specializes in delivering multi-faceted marketing and strategic public relations campaigns, eff ective in reaching target audiences to meet—and exceed —clients’ goals.
Primary Job Function: Public Relations Account Executive
Years in Industry: 6

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I’ve always been a huge animal lover. I grew up with Labs, volunteered at shelters, and feel great compassion toward animals of all kinds. Believe it or not, my position at Whitegate PR fell in my lap. I was fresh out of college, in search of my forever job and bartending at a sports bar. After discussing my background and interests with a customer one day, he instantly knew I would be a good fi t working for his friend’s PR fi rm that specialized in the pet industry. I was intrigued by this opportunity and instantly knew the pet industry was where I wanted to be. The rest is history!

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
All of the clients we have worked with at Whitegate PR off er innovative products and exceptional services that benefi t both pet and pet owner immensely. I take great pride in researching, writing and creating content for each company. It’s also exciting to be able to share these innovations and services with pet owners and the pet industry at large.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I love the people (and pets, too, of course). Those I have met within the pet industry have been some of the most down to earth, kind and fun people! Everyone shares a common passion and love: animals. It’s amazing to work in an industry that genuinely cares about making both pets’ and pet owners’ lives healthier and happier!

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
I wish I knew how competitive it is. It wasn’t until I went to my first trade show (SuperZoo) that I realized just how enormous the pet industry really is!

 

rebecca_shipman_exective_editor_barkleighRebecca Shipman
Executive Editor, Managing Editor, Show Producer
Barkleigh Productions
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Company Description: Barkleigh is the leading media company for the pet care industry. Barkleigh produces 10 trade shows and publishes Groomer to Groomer and Pet Boarding and Daycare magazines.
Primary Job Function: Manage two pet industry magazines and schedule
educational seminars for all Barkleigh shows
Years in Industry: 15

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I guess I started out as most animal lovers do: horse posters all over my walls; if there was an animal around, I would find it; and constantly asking my parents to let me get more animals. So I always knew animals would play a large part in my life, personally and professionally. But I also learned quickly that not all animals are cared for properly or treated fairly, so being in the pet care industry made sense to me as it allows you to educate and provide services to pets and their owners who might not otherwise have the resources or education to properly care for their pets.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I believe that my biggest contribution is my experience in all outlets of the pet industry, from pet owner, rescue worker and kennel staff , to training dogs and starting my own pet sitting business. With all of this experience, I have the insight to what pet professionals need to learn at our trade shows and read in our magazines in order for their pet care businesses to thrive.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
The thing I enjoy most about the pet industry (aside from the obvious—which is the pets!) is working amongst others who share my passion for animals. Pet lovers are typically compassionate, light-hearted people which makes working in this industry so much more enjoyable.

 

samuel_slovin_fauna_foods_director_of_salesSamuel Slovin
Director of Sales
Fauna Foods
Elmhurst, New York

Company Description: Fauna Foods is a family owned and operated pet food distributor delivering high quality service and nutrition to independent pet retailers for over 40 years.
Primary Job Function: Manage Fauna Foods’ outside sales team
Years in Industry: 4

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
While I love dogs and cats, I was truly inspired to continue my father’s legacy. He founded Fauna Foods in 1976 and led the company to be the successful small business it is today. Growing up, I learned about the business at the dinner table and by working in diff erent segments of our business. I really enjoy interacting with our clients and making fond memories with my father. Continuing my family’s legacy of bringing high quality pet food to animals and their owners is an opportunity I could not pass up.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My biggest contribution to the pet business has been emphasizing the further education of Fauna Foods sales representatives and our partners. As a second-generation leader, I have to refi ne an already successful foundation, and I believe that imparting education and continuing the consultative nature of our retail partners, who in turn inform the pet parent, will be one of the keys of distinguishing independent pet from the rest of the industry. I have put an emphasis on having Fauna Foods’ outside sales team educate our retailers during their calls. This is a small step on a path to education on such topics as market trends, nutritional philosophies and merchandising practices that will help independent pet market flourish.

 

img_9252Sara Munsterman
Vice President and Owner
Elkhound Ranch Kennels
Kansas City, Missouri

Company Description: We are a non-breed restrictive pet care facility specializing in boarding, daycare, grooming and training.
Primary Job Function: Manages quality control by providing a clean, safe and healthy environment for all pets
Years in Industry: 4

What inspired you to get into the pet industry? As a child, I was drawn to animals and animals seemed to provide a love toward me that could not be replaced. This encouraged me to develop a fascination of zoology. Never having the opportunity to follow that particular dream, but changing courses with my life, allowed another door to open when I met my husband. Together we were able to set our sights on owning and operating our own pet care facility, which enabled both of us to practice what we love.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I love getting the opportunity to bond with each and every pet that comes into our facility. I truly believe that these bonds allow our four-legged guests the chance to be comfortable in a new environment. In turn, this provides customer satisfaction and helps to grow a community of pet-loving friends and family.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Four legged or two, it all comes down to the friendships that we have made along the way. Some of these friendships cannot be replaced and we are extremely blessed to have these people in our lives.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
I really wish that I would have thought more about the lack of closure that I would receive when our furry friends pass or become unhealthy. The bonds that I am able to establish with them are awesome, but a person does not seem to think about the day that those bonds may cease to exist.

 

sb12Sarah Batterson
Brand Manager
H&C Animal Health
Parker, Colorado

Company Description: At H&C, our commitment to pet health means we bring only the most innovative, highly eff ective and clinically proven products from veterinary to retail.
Primary Job Function: Marketing
Years in Current Industry: 8

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My degree is in animal science, but my career path has taken me to marketing. My goal was always to merge the two passions and take a role in the pet industry.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I start and end each day with the goal to make it easier for pet owners to give their pets a healthy and happy home. At H&C, we aim to make pet health products more available and aff ordable for pet owners by providing them at pet specialty and saving them a trip to the vet’s offi ce. All of the products we make are proven health solutions pet owners can fi nd at their local pet store. Our marketing strategy helps bring awareness to common pet ailments that can be prevented such as dental disease, hip and joint discomfort and behavior issues.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I enjoy working with pet owners who care as much as I do about the health of their pets. It breaks my heart to see animals being neglected and poorly treated.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
I grew up in Rockport, Texas, where the eye of Hurricane Harvey hit in September. It is really hard seeing your beautiful small town torn apart. There was a lot of money raised for south Texas, but most of that went to higher population areas. If I had $1 million to give, I would donate it to Rockport to help rebuild and pay back the people who have selfl essly donated their time and resources to help the town get back on its feet.

 

scott_flora_operations_managerScott Flora
Director of Operations and Logistics
Monarch Pet Products
Denver, Colorado

Company Description: Family-owned and -operated regional pet products distributor
Primary Job Function: Ensuring that product is delivered to our customers safely and with outstanding customer service
Years in Industry: 7

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Several years ago I began to see a growing trend in high quality, premium natural pet products and decided that this was a movement I wanted to be a part of. Luckily, this trend has continued to grow allowing more and more people the ability to provide their pets with high quality products that are made with the best ingredients. I am happy that I am able to help (even if it’s a little bit) with this process.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
I have been able to develop ways to get product to our customers in a more effective and efficient manner. This allows the product to get to the end consumers in a timelier and cost effective fashion. We go out of our way to get our products to pet owners in the fastest and safest way possible.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I enjoy working in an industry whose main goal is to provide the best possible products to our pets. Our pets are a part of our families and knowing that I work in an industry that strengthens and betters our families makes me feel really good.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
Before getting into the pet industry I did not know how vast and deep the pet industry is. I was completely unaware of all the innovative companies and products out there. Each day I am continually impressed with new, unique products that make lives easier for pets and their owners. The amount of innovation in this industry is truly unbelievable.

 

headshotsnlSean Litke
President and Founder
Cosmo’s Superior Foods
Carmel, Indiana

Company Description: Ultra-premium pet treat producer
Primary Job Function: Sales & Marketing, Production Planning, Sourcing & Product Development
Years in Industry: 5

What inspired you to get into the pet industry? There are many reasons, really. My fi rst business was a self-wash, grooming facility combined with a high-end pet food market. I started it because I had interest in producing my own dog food and saw the market for the other services in our area. I’ve also always had a love for cooking and creation as a whole; the storefront gave me the opportunity to create and sell my own products. I also have a genuine love for pets, and felt that I could create something of value to pet owners with my own creative twist.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners? Our products deliver great value to consumers. Cosmo’s retail prices are typically lower in cost per ounce than many big names in the industry—and the products are very hard to compete with in quality. We also have built a strong culture around quality and consistency. Our team does not cut corners and I rest comfortably knowing that our products are traceable, safe and healthy. We’ve had zero recalls or safety issues in our entire fi ve years, despite exponential growth in output. In terms of our impact in the industry, we’ve built great sourcing relationships and feel like our approach to acquiring and producing raw materials is sustainable and ever improving.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
Our customers. At least a few times a week I get an email that makes me smile. Quite a few of them are telling stories about how their pet won’’t eat any other treats, or their food, unless it involves Cosmo’s. They also include lots of pet photos which are always a nice break in the day. I also enjoy watching how quickly pet owners continue to evolve and alter the choices they make. It’s exciting to see the things we imagined a few years ago catching on across many channels.

 

spyq_sklar_presidentcooSpyq Sklar
President and COO
Presidio Natural Pet Company
San Francisco, California

Company Description: Producer of all-natural treats, supplements and chews for cats and dogs
Primary Job Function: Product development and operations
Years in Industry: 8

What inspired you to get into the pet industry? I grew up in a family of independent pet retailers, and with a love for pets. When I had the chance to break into the industry on my own, I knew it was something that I would be passionate about and jumped at the opportunity.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners? I think my technology background gives me a unique way to add to the pet industry as an entrepreneur. Our retail store in San Francisco was one of the fi rst to off er customers local one-hour delivery via a smartphone app. At Presidio Natural, we’re bringing the same type of technological innovation to wholesale.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I love how much energy and excitement is in the pet industry today. So much is changing, and there is a real sense and need for innovation while the industry continues to go through this period of mainstream focus.

What was your best or worst day in the pet industry?
My best day in the pet industry was when we received our fi rst shipment of product, Cat Sushi, all the way from Japan. It capped off a journey I had started almost two years previously, and one that I wasn’t sure would ever actually come to fruition.

If you had $1 million to give, what cause(s) would you support?
Animal rescue, and freely accessible behavior training resources and subsidized workshops. When I worked in pet supply retail it was so common to speak with customers who had a very strained relationship with their pet because of a behavioral problem that could be solved with training. And yet, many could not spend the money to hire a trainer or go to classes to correct the problem.

 

tracy_campion_copublisher_of_pet_connection_magazine_photo_by_sarah_bousleslieTracy Campion
Co-Publisher
Pet Connection Magazine
East Olympia, Washington

Company Description: Pet Connection Magazine is a free community publication that illuminates the people, pets, community and connections we share in the Pacific Northwest.
Primary Job Function: Writer/Publisher
Years in Industry: 9

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
I was raised in a rural area and spent much of my childhood with horses, dogs, cats and assorted other animals. I knew from an early age that I wanted to work with animals in some capacity; after fi nishing master’s degrees in primate behavior and journalism, I was excited to take the opportunity to join Pet Connection Magazine.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet owners?
My biggest contribution to the pet business and to pet owners is writing articles that are candid, engaging and informative—pieces that will help them connect with fellow animal lovers.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I most enjoy connecting with people and their animals when I share their unique stories. I love it when readers reach out to me about a favorite article!

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry?
As both a scientist and a journalist, I wish I’d known how much people enjoy reading animal articles with a scientifi c angle! Pop-sci features are some of my favorite articles that I have written for Pet Connection Magazine.

What was your best or worst day in the pet industry?
I have two “best days” from the pet industry. The fi rst was when I held the first issue of Pet Connection Magazine where I was the co-publisher. Dr. Temple Grandin was on the cover and it was a special issue devoted to animal behavior and communication. My second best day in the pet industry was when I learned that $10,000 was being donated to Seattle Humane in honor of a film about my dog and me.

 

mainhsTrevor Crotts
President
Buddy Brands
Wichita, Kansas

Company Description: Buddy Brands is a U.S.-based manufacturer of pet products. We make a variety of different premium products under four different brands (BuddyRest, Pup IQ, Tough Pup, PetNV) as well as private label work for other leading brands in the industry.
Primary Job Function: As president, I get to implement my strategic vision in multiple ways. Being in charge of product innovation also allows me to harness the manufacturing power of our organization to create products that solve real problems for pets and pet people.
Years in Industry: 6

What inspired you to get into the pet industry?
Our story started years ago, with a routine visit to the vet. They warned me that my labradoodle, Buddy, was going to suff er from stiff , painful joints and live a shorter life than other dogs. I was told that big dogs like Buddy live on average four years less than smaller dogs, frequently due to conditions such as arthritis and joint problems. As chance would have it, I was working in the mattress industry at the time and I knew how important support was to the body. I had seen it fi rst-hand how a pressure-free support had changed the lives of numerous people. When looking at the products out there, it was easy to see nothing was really supportive or truly “orthopedic.” So I decided to use my expertise to design a dog bed that ticked all the boxes. My reasoning was simple: if the right mattress can have such a profound impact on a person’s quality of life, shouldn’t big dogs like Buddy enjoy the same benefi ts? It was that moment I decided to do something for Buddy and the millions of dogs out there destined to suff er the same fate. Years later, we have now developed into a manufacturer with a myriad of different products under different brands that focus on solving real pet problems.

What do you enjoy most about the pet industry?
I enjoy the personality this industry has. When I go to some of our supplier side shows, I think to myself how boring it must be to stand in a booth all day trying to sell fabric. That is not the case at our industry events. Our industry is filled with colorful people, beautiful animals, innovation, and excitement.

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