Neill Hines, a 29-year veteran of the garden and pet businesses, died Jan. 17. He is survived by his wife Patti, four children and five grandchildren.
Hines entered the garden and pet business world in 1985 while working for the Weyerhaeuser Company, from which he retired in July 1990 following 20 years of service. He joined Central Garden Supply, which is now known as Central Garden & Pet Company as their vice president of finance where he spent 14 years.
He was a valued business partner to Central’s CEO Bill Brown and President Glenn Novotny, and a key member of the executive leadership team. With Hines’ help, the company expanded its garden and pet presence across the United States through a series of acquisitions as well as organic business growth.
Even though Hines spent several years in an operational role reshaping Central’s Garden Business, his passion was for the pet business where he led pet distribution and acted as a mentor to most of the manufacturing business unit presidents.
While Hines retired from Central Garden & Pet in 2000, he continued to participate in the area in which he loved, pet businesses. He served as PIJAC chairman and continued to serve on their board of directors for many years, as well as provided consulting project support to Central.
Hines co-founded Furhaven Pet Products, makers of pet beds and accessories in 2004, with his friend, Eric Heilborn.
During his career, Hines became friends with many business people with whom he came in contact, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers. He had a particularly strong friendship with Harvey Solway, formerly Pet Supplies Plus, CEO. Solway, Heilborn and Hines had many adventurous fishing trips over the years.
All who knew Hines recognized that while he could be soft-spoken, he possessed unquestionable competence, exceptional ethics and was a caring leader. He was always reliable, thoughtful, resourceful and effective in his own quiet way. He could calm the “waters of dissent” and get people to work together no matter how difficult the challenge.