We recently talked with Avrum Elmakis, founder and CEO of Barkworthies, about his company.
Michelle: Tell us a little about Barkworthies.
Avrum: The Barkworthies brand of dog treats and chews was launched in 2011 at the Total Pet Expo in Chicago with the mission of providing the best quality of life to our four-legged family members. We created our company with the firm belief that simpler is better, which is why we never use additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients in our dog chews and treats.
We saw that low-quality ingredients and chemical additives are so often found in many of today’s treats and chews, and we simply didn’t want to feed these to our dogs, or any dogs. Many consumers are unaware of the potential hazards posed by indigestible dog treats, which is why our healthy, natural alternatives use high-quality, fully digestible ingredients.
Our product line includes bully sticks, elk antlers and a large variety of dog chews and treats. We have a rigorous quality-control process in place before our products ship to stores. Barkworthies products are initially inspected at the factory, inspected again by the USDA and FDA, then sorted, inspected and measured by hand for consistency in Virginia. We never use bleaches or chemicals in the manufacturing process. In addition to our emphasis on high-quality ingredients, we strive for our all-natural dog treats to be accessible and affordable for both retailers and consumers.
Within the Barkworthies line, we also have the Barkworthies Select line, which is the creme de la creme of Barkworthies products. These items have been triple-sorted to ensure the highest quality possible, and make up only two percent of the Barkworthies line.
The Barkworthies team, based in Virginia, continues to expand to bring innovative new products to consumers and retailers every day.
Michelle: As founder, owner and CEO, what is a typical day like for you?
Avrum: There is no such thing as a typical day for an entrepreneur, but my day often consists of working with our suppliers, reaching out to business owners to find out how we can help, and collaborating with the Barkworthies team members to achieve our goals.
I spend a lot of time traveling to countries and plants to make sure our quality requirements are being followed.
Michelle: Product innovation is very important to your company. How do you keep ahead of the curve?
Avrum: At Barkworthies we are committed to continually innovating and expanding our contributions to the dog treat and chew market. We regularly consult with our suppliers and retail partners to ensure that our product design and offerings are in line with current industry demands and trends.
One way we keep ahead of the curve is by offering unique products like kangaroo and crocodile. We recognized the challenge that some pet owners face when owning a pet with dietary allergies and sensitivities, and alternative protein sources like crocodile and kangaroo are a great solution. We looked to Australia when expanding our product line because Australian proteins are among the best in the world, in part due to the country’s strict standards.
Developing our products really is a team effort, both internally and with our suppliers and retail partners. We have some exciting, new “combo” products coming out soon as well as our new Himalayan Gold, a hearty and wholesome vegetarian chew made from yak and cow’s milk. Innovation is what drives us as a business and we believe we are among one of the most innovative companies in the industry.
Michelle: Tell us a little about your global sourcing initiatives.
Avrum: Barkworthies got its start selling our flagship product, the bully stick, which is sourced from Brazilian free-range, grass-fed beef. We made it a high priority to make our dog chews and treats from high-quality sources because we know that whatever the cattle ingests will ultimately affect our canine consumers.
Since 2011, we have expanded our product line to include dog chew and dog treat products from Australia, as well as America for consumers who prefer to purchase products made in the USA. We pride ourselves in the quality of all of our products. Our products made here in the USA include our chicken jerky, sweet potato and Alaskan Salmon Skin dog treats, which have been a real hit with customers.
Regardless of their source, all Barkworthies products have two things in common: They are all natural and often contain only one ingredient. Just as Americans have learned in the last decade to avoid highly processed foods with unknown ingredients, we know that [it] is safer and healthier to feed our canine best friends single-ingredient or minimally processed foods.