Three Dog Bakery Acquired By Private Equity Firm

Three Dog Bakery, Inc., in its 25th year of business and a nationally recognized leader in the premium natural dog treat and food industry, has been acquired by a private equity group led by Aziz Giga, former vice president of strategic planning at PPG Industries.

The new company will be known as Three Dog Bakery, LLC.

“We are proud to own the Three Dog Bakery brand that pioneered bakeries for dogs,” Giga, the chairman of Three Dog Bakery, LLC, said.  “The team has done a great job expanding the brand, products and distribution across North America. We look forward to helping move the company to the next level.”

The company was founded in 1989. From its beginning as a single bakery in Kansas City, the company has grown to 36 boutique bakeries for dogs, located within the United States, Canada and Hong Kong. Additionally, the company provides Three Dog Bakery brand and private label packaged products to national and independent pet retailers, grocery, drug, mass and club merchandisers and through direct-to-consumer internet sales.

“We are excited about this new partnership and fully expect this transaction to greatly accelerate our growth strategy,” said Brian Wietharn, president and CEO of Three Dog Bakery, Inc. said.


Spring Naturals Receives Low Glycemic Certification

Spring Naturals Whole Grain and Grain Free Dry Dinners are now certified low glycemic and diabetic friendly by the Glycemic Research Institute.

The super-premium brand is the only made in the USA dog kibble to receive this accreditation, due to the company’s philosophy of using only real meat, poultry or fish as the first protein source rather than rendered meals, according to the company.

Foods formulated with low glycemic ingredients are digested slower than high glycemic foods, allowing the body to absorb all the nutrients. When food is digested slower and the nutrients are properly absorbed, pets will remain fuller longer which helps maintain weight control, whereas dog foods with a high glycemic index elevate blood glucose levels, which can increase the risk of epilepsy, hypothyroidism, allergies, yeast infections, cancer and diabetes, the company said.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about achieving this certification,” said Rob Cadenhead, vice president of sales and marketing at Spring Naturals. “Now consumers know just how healthy our dinners are and that we are dedicated to providing the best nutrition for their beloved pets.”

Spring Naturals is a fresh, family of nutritionally balanced dinners and treats for pets. Each carefully formulated recipe is based on the company’s whole food philosophy which emphasizes a healthy combination of real meat, whole fruits and whole vegetables, without rendered meals and starchy, high-glycemic ingredients. Made by a family-owned company in the USA, Spring Naturals offers Whole Grain and Grain Free dinner and treat options for dogs, and a Grain Free cat line is also available.


Recap Of Global Pet Expo

In case you missed it, here are some of our favorite social media posts from last week’s Global Pet Expo.





Halo-Backed Movie to Open Film Fest

Halo, Purely for Pets has teamed up with 2012 America’s Got Talent winners, the Olate Dogs, to create a 6-minute film, “La Sauvetage” (The Rescue), directed by Peter McEvilley (“The House Bunny”, “Last Vegas”, “Alias”) and starring the Olate Dogs.

The film will be opening the Sonoma Film Festival on April 2, but, the media and other invited guests were treated to a special screening of it during the Global Pet Expo.

McEvilley, inspired by the question of “who rescued whom?,”  produced “La Sauvetage” at the request of Halo CEO Steve Marton.

In 2012, the Olate Dogs shot to stardom when they won the America’s Got Talent grand prize. These sweet, funny, talented dogs and their entertaining owners/handlers captured hearts across America.  But, there’s more to their story.

Many of the Olate Dogs are rescue dogs. In fact, family patriarch, Richard Olate, developed his act on the streets of his native Chile when he was a poor boy of just 12. He began rescuing stray dogs from the street and training them to be part of his amateur show.  He has worked hard for years to realize his dream of becoming a professional dog act.

Today, Richard and his son, Nicolas and wife, Rebecca, continue to save dogs from shelters and train them to become part of their professional troupe.

Those attending the screening were treated to a special live performance.

Global Pet Expo 2014 New Products Showcase Winners

The American Pet Products Association and the Pet Industry Distributors Association announced 27 winners for the New Products Showcase at the 2014 Global Pet Expo, held from March 12-14, 2014 in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.


Best In Show
Wonder Bubble Bubble Tunnel
BioBubble Pets

Second Place
IWish Acrylic Mini Aquarium
Cleair Aquatics Ltd.

Third Place
Betta Livin’
Pro Clear Aquatic Systems Inc.


Best In Show
Foraging Pocket Natural Bird Toys
Fetch-It Pets Inc.

Second Place
All Natural Java Wood Bird Toys
A&E Cage Co. LLC

Third Place
Wingscapes BirdCam Pro


Best In Show

biOrbAIR Terrarium
Reef One

Second Place
Wobble Ball Enrichment Dog Toy
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You)

Third Place
Astoria Cat Scratcher
Architect Pets


Best In Show
Glide ‘n Seek
KONG Company

Second Place
A-MAZE-ing Cat Furniture
Ware Manufacturing

Third Place
Kitty Connection
Innovation Pet Inc.


Best In Show

Second Place

Third Place
K-9 Kannon Mini
Hyper Pet


Best In Show
Carob Chip Cookie Mix by Puppy Cake
Puppy Cake

Second Place
Bee the Solution with Harvest Home
Ware Manufacturing

Third Place
Kaytee Shapes of Nature: Butterfly, Flower, Pumpkin, and Maple Leaf
Central Garden & Pet


Best In Show
BioBubble Chameleon Cantina

Second Place
ReptiRapids LED Waterfalls
Zoo Med Laboratories

Third Place
Exo Terra Terrarium Décor Series
Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp.


Best In Show
Scyclone Spinners
Ware Manufacturing

Second Place
BioBubble Small Animal Terra Riser

Third Place
Harvest Stacks
Oxbow Animal Health


Best In Show
4pets ProLine Sales Display

Second Place
Etta Says US Crunchy Chew Display
Treat Planet LLC

Third Place
Busy Buddy Build A Bone

What Trends to Look for at Global

Change is the only constant in the pet industry and this remains true for 2014.

The industry has not only seen, and will continue to see, dramatic changes in corporate ownership, marketing techniques, shipping, shopping, packaging and other areas.

The pet industry is still the Wild West, a virtual gold rush with lots of room for growth and expansion. It’s an industry that rewards innovative thought and creative approaches to problems. Pets have become a part of the family, and there is no room for error when it comes to a member of the family.

Contemporize and Repackage

Repackaging and contemporizing food brands is first on the marketing agenda this year. Expect to see several major brands rolling out a complete new look.

Pet food and treat manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact packaging has on their success. Treats in packaging that supports freshness and ease of use are important. Resealable packages made of recycled materials, and ease of display is becoming almost as important as what is inside the package.

“We wanted the packaging to evoke a very natural, culinary look and feel that plays up the beautiful ingredients we use in our human-grade foods,” Lucy Postins, founder and CEO of The Honest Kitchen, said. “We’re placing a heavy emphasis on the meat or fish source in each recipe, along with more clearly defining the life stage and differentiating the grain-free from whole-grain diets, to help streamline the shopping process and allow consumers to more easily select the recipe that’s right for their pet.”

Bravo Pet Foods also announced a series of strategic brand upgrades. The purveyor of an extensive, natural line of dinners and treats for dogs and cats is introducing a new logo, slogan and packaging design that will officially debut during Orlando’s Global Pet Expo. The image overhaul was developed with strategic guidance from Matrix Partners to make a compelling connection between the exceptional quality of Bravo products and the emotional reward pet owners feel when serving their pet these nutritious, delicious dinners and treats.Repackaging is not limited to pet foods.

Absorption Corp is now Healthy Pet, reflecting its focus as a pet products company. The Healthy Pet brand has been used by Absorbtion for both cat and small animal products, and will now become its corporate brand as well. Healthy Pet will be an umbrella for all of the company’s pet products, with major category brands such as CareFRESH and Critter Care maintaining strong product visibility to ensure consumer familiarity and loyalty.

A new logo and website recently debuted to reflect the change.

Reducing Carbon Pawprint

Green is in. With green technology and practices being touted by consumers and marketed by retailers, there is an obvious movement toward sustainable practices. Environmentally conscious owners are actively seeking out dog and cat treats that utilize recycled materials, sustainable resources and fair-trade ingredients.

“People want to know where their pet’s food and treats are coming from,” Postins said. “We always choose sustainability over cost. Our free-range chicken and line-caught wild haddock, fair-trade quinoa, non-genetically-modified produce and recycled, compostable packaging.”

Founded in 2013 by Cardinal Pet Care, Kong, Planet Dog, West Paw design, Worldwise, Petco, I and Love and You, and Only Natural Pet, the Pet Sustainability Coalition is focused on accelerating sustainability in the pet industry by encouraging the implementation of best-practices to promote continual and authentic improvement for the benefit of our environment, communities and businesses.

“It is our goal at Pet Age to bring the most important news and information to over 26,000 of our readers,” Craig Rexford, vice president and publisher of Pet Age, said. “Sustainability is an issue we support and we want to be sure industry leaders know what’s going on, how to get involved and why sustainability is important to their business. The Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition is paving a new pathway for improvement in this industry and we are proud supporters of their work.”

Luxury Services for Pets

From freeze-dried lobster tail treats offered by Grandma Lucy’s for cats, to blueberry facials from South Bark for dogs, pets are experiencing luxurious lives no matter what the owner’s income. Elegant packaging is what will attract pet owners, effective results is what brings them back.

Unprecedented growth will be seen across all categories, with the American Pet Products Association predicting that it will reach $750 billion by 2015. These changes will be most obvious in spa services that include alternative healing methods, including the cold laser, massage, acupuncture and other forms of alternative healing, behavioral training and counseling, luxury boarding facilities that mimic a home environment, and upscale pet photography.

High-end, solutions-based product lines for the home will also see continued growth. Celebrity brands like Martha Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel Ray, Bret Michaels and Cesar Milan have long been fixtures in the pet industry. And, as new product lines are being consistently developed by those in the public eye, these celebrity endorsements will continue to bring in millions for the industry.

Alternative Proteins

To entice the discerning pet owner, manufacturers have had to become more creative in identifying more variety when it comes to ingredients for pet food.

Alligator, craw fish, shrimp and crab are just a few of the proteins that characterize the new thought process.

An example of this Delca Corp.’s line of alligator-based dog treats.

“Our team has spent many years in all aspects of the pet industry, and we are passionate about this space,” Fritz Goodnow, partner at Delca Corp., said. “We are always inventing new things, and we believe we’ve really done it right this time. As dog lovers, we look for safe, healthy alternatives for our best friends, and our line of think!dog Louisiana Alligator treats are perfect for pet owners who really care about their dogs’ health and wellness.”

Primal Pet Foods continues to focus their raw diets on lamb, duck, turkey and sardine and more. They are also introducing a new, easier to feed type of raw food. Primal Pronto Formula is introducing a revolutionary way to feed raw foods to pets.

“Small, bite-sized pieces make the frozen formula much easier to portion and it thaws in minutes, negating any reason to leave food out for long periods of time,” Matt Koss, founder and president of Primal Pet Foods, said.

No matter what protein is used, it will need to be top of the line to compete within the competitive pet food landscape.

“Providing the best possible product for pets not only nourishes the health and well being of the animal, it nourishes the relationship between pet and parent,” Rob Cadenhead, vice president of sales and marketing at Spring Naturals, said.

Whole Life Pet treats also understands the value of farm-to-table fresh. Each treat is made from 100 percent human-quality, hormone-free, free range and organic meat, with no chemicals, preservatives, additives or artificial fillers. Powered 100 percent by renewable energy, Whole Life has focused on sustainability and quality.


From apps to keep cats entertained to new electronic monitoring for dogs, pets are joining the e-revolution. Look for Smart Homes to be a reality this year, and expect PetSafe to be leading the pack with the pet-side of this technology. Already, they have introduced the PASSport Pet Access Smart System automatic pet doors, doors which have gotten smarter over the years. They also introduced their Train ‘n Praise and Train ‘n Treat systems, the first which helps an owner remotely treat their pet.

Panasonic and Motorola both joined the pet surveillance category in 2013, and DOGTEK will unveil their new line of bark control devices, remote trainers, electronic fencing systems and pet cams at Global Pet Expo this year. The new line of infrared, wireless cameras allow night viewing of pets no matter where they are.

Petzila Pet Remote Interaction Device also unveiled its newest model at the Consumer Electronic Show earlier this year. The internet connected device let’s you interact with your pets while you’re on the road and is just one of many similar gadgets making its way to homes across America.

Get Healthy

Wearables are all the rage, and while Fit Bit hit the stage in the human industry, it’s only natural that a data tracking collar for pets would become popular next. I3C Innovations debuted its Voyce tracking collar, which uses a 3-axis accelerometer to track a dog’s active and resting periods, and radio frequency technology to measure both heart and respiratory rates.

One particularly useful benefit of tracking pets is utilizing the data as a health resource, specifically to address the issue of pet obesity. Pet owners are becoming more and more aware of the problems associated with pet obesity. Now, more than ever, the trend is moving towards work outs with pets. Doga, dogs in yoga, K9 Fit Clubs and dog treadmills are the new status quo.

Fitness is more than a trend to PetZen. Their DogTread Authentic Brand includes a full selection of canine gym gear, including a K9 Fit Vest, and balancing equipment to their Canine Gym at Home and K9 Fit Clubs programs. Kathy Santo, professional dog trainer, and Krista Wickens, founder of PetZen Products/DogTread, teamed up to provide your dog with the Golden Duo—Mental and Physical Exercise, in DogTread’s newest Fitness Program innovation—Canine Gym At Home.

New and improved activity tracking software from Tagg, a GPS tracker and the introduction of other electronic monitoring apparatus helps keep concerned pet parents at ease.

“Tagg has compiled an extensive dataset, and we are excited to embrace the intellectual capital of our current veterinary partners to provide a more enhanced user experience,” Dr. Brailean, chairman and chief science officer who envisions Tagg to be at the epicenter of the wellness movement for pets, said. “These additional features will invite our subscribers to create a more customized experience based on the breed of their pet and specific health goals, helping to further shape and define Tagg’s leadership position within the pet advocacy world.”

Electronic toys will also be a bigger category in 2014, as customers are looking for innovation and active toys for their pets.

Educating Employees

Most small businesses have focused on attracting high-end, discerning clientele by becoming a base of knowledge and fun. This is done by taking the time to educate their employees, bringing in external presenters for special tasting parties, yappy hours and other special events focused on the customer and their pets.

More of this is expected in 2014, as the competition becomes even greater.

“Your staff is very important,” Elizabeth Pfeiffer, manager of Bark Avenue Pet Supply, said. “Our employees focus is on solutions for pets rather than the trend of the week. We are always seeking to learn more about pet nutrition and share what we have learned with our staff. We invest in our employees with ongoing training by bringing experts into the store to explain the benefits of their products.”

– Stacy Mantle

Celebrity Influence

It’s been in advertising and marketing for as long as most of us can remember: celebrities endorsing, or producing their own, products.

In recent years, Tiger Woods has been synonymous with Nike, William Shatner with Priceline and Michael Jordan with Gatorade.

For more than 50 years, celebrities and personalities have endorsed different products. Why has it lasted for so long? Because it works, and it’s something that as celebrities begin entering the pet industry with their own products, pet retailers should take advantage of.

In June 2012, the Journal of Advertising Research produced an article by Anita Elberse, an associate professor of Harvard Business School, and Jeroen Verleun, a Barclays Capital analyst, titled, “The Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements.” The study was done to see how celebrity endorsements impact sales. One of the conclusions they found: “In general, enlisting the help of celebrity endorsers pays off.”

Now, celebrities don’t always just endorse products, especially not as much in the pet industry. Instead, many of them have started their own pet companies, or worked with established manufacturers in the business to create signature lines, because of their love for pets.

A perfect example of this would be Kristy Hinze-Clark, the creator/creative director for Legitimutt, who is also an Australian model, actress and television host. She has also appeared in Sports Illustrated as well as the Victoria’s Secret catalogue.

“I started Legitimutt because of my love for my dogs,” Hinze-Clark said. “I had always wanted to have a company based around pets and their care. I noticed that there was a gap in the market for high-quality, USA-made pet goods, and when I was brainstorming names one afternoon and came up with Legitimutt, my husband said that I had to go with it. Hence, Legitimutt was born.”

Celebrities and Their Products

Hinze-Clark said one of the biggest questions she gets asked is, “Why do a pet line?”

“Most models that come from my field go into lingerie or swimwear or clothing,” Hinze-Clark said. “Well, it was something different and fun. After being in the fashion industry for over 20 years, I wanted to do something that had a sense of humor while still utilizing my many years of experience.”

Halo, Purely for Pets is co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres, who believes that, “If you’re going to have pets you should treat them like you’d treat yourself. I don’t mean you should treat them to new shoes or a fancy car—I am talking about the basics; a nice bed, fun toys and good food.”

DeGeneres founded the company while finding the perfect food for her dog.

“A few years ago I was looking for some pet food for one of my dogs who was allergic to everything, honestly, even his own fur,” DeGeneres said. “I tried everything, our vet tried everything and finally I found a little company that had the perfect food for him. It’s called Halo, Purely for Pets.

“So, because I think Halo is incredible, I decided to become part owner in hopes that all animals have the chance to be the healthiest they can be. And I’m anxious to spread the word so that everybody knows about Halo.”

Rocky Keever is the president and founder of DOG for DOG, a store with a simple mission statement: “For every item sold we will donate one to a dog in need.”

“It started because my team and I were hosting rescue groups at my stores, The Dog Bakery, and we couldn’t seem to help enough dogs,” Keever said. “So one day, I decided that the only way to truly make an impact was to involve everyone. I truly believe people are giving by nature and just need a convenient way to do so. Thus, DOG for DOG was born.

“My business partner, Scott Ragan, and myself have partnered with some pretty amazing people. Michael Buble and his wife, Luisana Lopilato, Chelsea Handler and Snoop Dogg are all investors for the DOG for DOG movement. It is pretty exciting helping dogs in need with the team that we have.”

In the Beginning

Before the article, “The Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements,” was printed, most advertisers and marketers said celebrity endorsements pay off.

Where did these ideas come from?Originally, a mathematical manuscript was written by mathematician Manfred Kochen and political scientist Ithiel de Sola Pool called, “Contacts and Influences.” It was published in 1978 and formally articulated the mechanics of social networks. The manuscript didn’t answer all questions, as there were some about the degree of connectedness, and there were still questions about networks, which included the number of degrees of separation in actual social networks.

Stanley Milgram, a Ph.D. graduate from Harvard, who later taught at Harvard and Yale, would go on to produce the famous Milgram experiments. In 1967, Milgram lead experiments called the “The Small World Problem” in the magazine, Psychology Today. It is more popularly known today as the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory or the “Kevin Bacon game.”

In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell came out with a book called, “The Tipping Point,” which seeks to explain how ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread in culture. In the book, he covers “The Law of the Few,” which cites Milgram’s experiments in the small world problem, but it discusses that there is a small but compelling group of individuals who are influential. This group consists of several groups of people, including celebrities.

Since celebrities are influential people, Keever said one of the important aspects to their celebrity partners is that none of them are tasked with selling products.

“They are all tasked with helping spread the word on how we can all help dogs in need,” Keever said. “Some people may say in the end that is the same thing. To us, it is a major difference because focusing on our movement helps let passion and heart lead the way.”

Working With Retailers

David Yaskulka, vice president, marketing communications for Halo, Purely for Pets, said that while brands such as American Express, Lifewater, Cover Girl and others might pay Ellen millions to be associated with their products, Halo is actually co-owned by Ellen.

“She’s a believer, not a paid spokesperson,” Yaskulka said. “And it shows in the power of her messaging. Ellen says, ‘I love my pets so much that I’ll only give them Halo.’ Ellen never says such deeply personal endorsements of other brands, because the nature of this relationship is from the heart.”

Yaskulka continued to say that there is no more passionate, credible and visible animal-rescue advocate than Ellen.

“She would never recommend anything less than exemplary for pets,” Yaskulka said. “That’s why she’s such a powerful part of the Halo, Purely for Pets, brand. She believes in the highest quality natural nutrition and she believes in helping animals. That’s the Halo brand in a nutshell.”

In February, Hinze-Clark hosted a trunk show and pet adoption event in “The Dog Bar,” which is Miami’s leading pet store and also one of their prime locations for Legitimutt.

“We are looking forward to introducing new and exciting additions to the Legitimutt line this year,” Hinze-Clark said. “The pet industry is stronger than ever and we are happy to be a part of such an exciting and growing industry.”

Keever said that one of the reasons we love celebrities is because we relate, are inspired, or see a bit of ourselves in what they do.

“Sharing that story and connection with customers when talking about a brand helps the customer to make the purchase because now they are a part of the brand,” Keever said. “In my opinion, our celebrities are able to help validate our movement to help dogs in need by simply being involved.”

The advice Keever gives to retailers is to talk about the movement first, helping dogs in need and how we couldn’t do it without them.

“They [the retailer] are the difference because with every item they sell, one is donated to help a dog in need,” Keever said. “It is the reason for being and what we stand for. The great part about that is then you can talk about the exciting people involved in the movement. And last, but not least, how all of our products are made in the USA, all-natural and high quality.”

Licensing Brands

Celebrities are not the only option for selling products. Licensing products are always another option and something that customers look for.

“As a brand, Eddie Bauer has a long history with dogs, as his legacy includes breeding the first black Labrador in America,” Jack Savdie, the vice president of sales for Age Group Ltd., said. “In addition, all Eddie Bauer products are made to withstand the rigors of outdoor use, including various temperatures and terrain. Hence, these products are well-suited for the active pet and owner. What we love most about the brand is we can design an active outdoor collection, as well as a heritage, home-friendly collection.”

Age Group Ltd. also sells Hello Kitty merchandise, which is one of the most popular characters in the world.

“She is recognized by both sexes of all age ranges, kids to adults,” Savdie said. “Hello Kitty has a tremendous and loyal following. Females make up about 75 percent of all shoppers, making this one of the best female brands across all retail channels in almost every category and department.”

Savdie suggests to retailers that if they wanted to promote brands like Eddie Bauer and Hello Kitty, they should use signage, social media, flyers, brochures and their website.

“It takes about 30 seconds to get a customer’s email address,” Savdie said. “Establish a mailing address and send out an email once a week promoting a certain item, sale dates, whatever it is. What’s great about purchasing the Hello Kitty brand is Age Group will give back a certain percentage to the retailer in order to cover advertising fees.”

Just like celebrities, these brands have a history of performing well, which will help them fly off the shelves.

“Hello Kitty merchandise can be found in almost every independent or mom and pop retailer across the U.S.,” Savdie said. “After doing many studies, we found that any brand that performs well in a certain retail channel would most likely perform the same way in another.

“Almost everyone that owns something that bares the Eddie Bauer logo can attest that its functionality, long-lasting quality is the best out there. Eddie Bauer also has a loyal following and as sport, outdoor and functional brands are on the rise, so too we believe that the Eddie Bauer brand is going to perform in all retail channels; we know it already is and we are very excited for 2014.”


Wayde King and Brett Raymer have been in the aquarium business for 18 years. Recently, their TV show “Tanked” has had their product, Blue Shark Products, sales go through the roof.

“Wayde and I used to have an office and people used to come in our office all the time and say, ‘You guys are great, you guys should be on television,’ and we made a great product so we decided to film our own version of a pilot,” Raymer, COO of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, said. “Then we shopped it around for a while. [It] took about 3 years to get it off the ground. Finally we got it off the ground and here we are 5 years later.”

Before it was Blue Shark Products, the product was originally called, Naturbac.

“These guys had products that were mom and pop products that we used that we thought were great products,” Raymer said. “It had a hard time getting national exposure. So I spoke to Bobby and Christian and told them about the show and, once the show takes off, we would love to endorse these products and get our name onto something because they are great products, we could get some national exposure and hopefully come up with a great chemical line.”

Blue Shark Products is now a well-known brand, especially internationally, and as the show continues to gain popularity, more people will want to purchase the products.

“There is no better advertising than television,” Raymer said. “This year, we are going to feature the product on the show a great deal. Our business from being on the show has jumped tremendously. So I can imagine all these retail stores that bring in our products, how much business they are going to gain from the popularity of the show as well.”

Kathy Ireland and Worldwise

Worldwise has been making pet products for 20 years. Recently, they have partnered with Kathy Ireland because they share similar values in terms of viewing pets as part of the family, and wanting to provide both the pet and the pet owner with products that meet their needs.

Under the partnership, Kathy Ireland, CEO and chief designer for kiWW, will develop a line of solution-based home-decor friendly pet products with the Worldwise team and market the collection under the brand kathy ireland Loved Ones.

“Kathy brings the understanding of what it means to be a busy parent to both the two-footed and four-footed child,” Kurt Avar, senior director, creative services and marketing for Worldwise, said. “We knew we would have a winning combination if we could join Kathy’s knowledge and savvy design sensibility with Worldwise innovation capabilities and industry expertise to create a solution-based, home-décor friendly product line.”

To help boost sales of Worldwise and Kathy Ireland products, Avar said they needed to understand the specific needs that a pet has in order to be happy and healthy.

“Worldwise is built on a foundation of the ‘needs system,’ with product designed to meet specific pet needs from emotional to physical,” Avar said. “By helping to educate your staff and customers about the importance of meeting these needs everyone will be prosperous.”

Truly a Global Experience

Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest annual trade show, is presented by the American Pet Products Association and the Pet Industry Distributors Association. Founded in 1958, APPA consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, importers and suppliers focused on a mission to promote, develop and advance pet ownership.

Pet Age sat down with Andrew Darmohraj, executive vice president and COO of APPA, to learn more about the organization and its sponsorship of the Global Pet Expo.

Pet Age: APPA has been a fixture of the pet industry since 1958. Can you tell us what the original goals of APPA were at that time and how they have changed over the years?

Darmohraj: The American Pet Products Association was established to provide its then 16-member companies with services that would help their businesses prosper. Today, APPA consists of more than 1,000 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers, representing both large corporations and growing business enterprises worldwide. We provide a wide spectrum of benefits and programs designed to serve our members’ unique needs. This also includes producing the largest annual pet products trade show in the industry, Global Pet Expo.

APPA’s comprehensive market research, the National Pet Owners Survey, which debuted in 1988, has positioned the organization as the premier resource for comprehensive consumer data for manufacturers, retailers, investment professionals and media outlets worldwide.

In addition to providing programs to our membership, APPA’s mission is to promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet products industry as a whole. It also strives to be a leading voice within the industry through coalition building and legislative advocacy.

Pet Age: Can you tell us how Global Pet Expo has changed over the years?

Darmohraj: Since Global Pet Expo debuted in 2005, the show has experienced unprecedented growth with each passing year. Compared to its premier year, the show has grown 65 percent and is considered one of the top 100 trade shows in the nation, according to Trade Show Executive magazine. Last year, buyer attendance was at all-time high with more than 5,300 buyers, 27 percent of which represented 71 countries from around the world.

Over the past 10 years, we have added specialty sections on the show floor in response to growing trends within the industry, allowing attendees to more easily navigate the massive show while networking with exhibitors in more niche markets.

The international presence, whether it’s attendees or the growing number of international exhibitors, has solidified Global Pet Expo as a key trading opportunity for companies worldwide. Additionally, the press exposure has grown extensively with coverage from the trade magazines and bloggers, as well as major media outlets like the TODAY show, Good Morning America and USA Today.
More recently, Global Pet Expo has taken the opportunity to honor its exhibitors, buyers and media attendees with awards such as the “Best In Show” New Products Showcase, Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry Award and the latest, Retailer Excellence Awards.

Pet Age: Tell us what APPA’s role is within the context of the Global Pet Expo.

Darmohraj: With the premiere of Global Pet Expo in 2005, APPA joined forces with the Pet Industry Distributors Association to establish the largest annual pet products tradeshow in the industry. APPA is responsible for managing Global Pet Expo’s preshow and on-site operations, from booth sales and attendee registration, to media relations and promotional opportunities for its exhibitors.

Pet Age: How have you seen the pet industry change since 1958?

Darmohraj: Most notably, the pet industry has grown to be a $55 billion industry as projected for actual 2013 spending by APPA. The pet marketplace has consistently attracted a stream of entrepreneurs and investors introducing new, innovative products and services that have fueled tremendous growth in the past five decades.

Pet services such as grooming, boarding and day care have boomed in response to pet owners’ desires for convenience as well as opportunities to pamper their pets. Advances in health care treatments, and increased spending on veterinary care, supplies and OTC medications, demonstrate a greater effort to provide longer, healthier lives for pets on both the industry’s and pet owners’ parts.

And, the overall and consistent rise in pet ownership has certainly been at the heart of many of the trends and opportunities that have emerged within the industry, as the human-animal bond remains strong, encouraging continued growth.

Pet Age: How has the focus of APPA changed over the years?

Darmohraj: Over the course of more than five decades, APPA has taken a leading role in coalition building, legislative monitoring and advocacy, and continues to broaden its reach and impact within the industry as well as reaching consumers. In 2007, it established the Pets Add Life campaign, designed with the sole goal of increasing awareness of the joys and benefits of responsible pet ownership and encouraging pet adoption. More recently, APPA has played a pivotal role in the formation of Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative, and the Pet Leadership Council.

Pet Age: Make a prediction for 2014. What do you think the next big trend will be?

Darmohraj: The next big trend is actually a continuation of an existing trend in that the humanization of pets will further drive what is popular to the pet product consumer. High-end products and services that mirror human consumers will thrive as pet owners seek the same high-quality food and care they have themselves. This will result in growth of natural and high-end foods, superior supplements and supplies, and products that improve pets’ health and enhance the bonding and interactive experience.

Pet Age: What types of challenges do you think retailers and manufacturers will be facing in the next few years?

Darmohraj: The continued acquisitions by large companies and the consolidation of vendors providing products to the mass pet chains will prove more challenging for small and midsize manufacturers to sell through those channels. That said, the recovering economy provides opportunity for those companies in pet specialty as independent stores make a comeback and consumers are less concerned about price.

– Stacy Mantle

110 Years Young

On the outside of every bag of Fromm Family Foods it says, “A Tradition of Quiet Innovation Since 1904.”

From raising foxes and creating vaccines for cats and dogs, to their original meal creation, over 50 years ago, Fromm has a long history of innovation that continues through five generations.

“We recognize opportunities, work hard to understand possible options and utilize resources that we have to complete the project,” Tom Nieman, owner of Fromm Family Foods, said. “You have a vision of what the opportunity is and then specifically define what you are trying to accomplish, the need you’re trying to fill and a way to communicate it.

“We have been innovators but we tend to work hard and roll up our sleeves to get things done; Fromm is not a mass produced, mass market product. The people we care about, as far as our product, know who we are. Hence we go through the independent retailers and that’s our way of communicating with the market place. We feel our customers will go to those types of outlets and buy those types of products.”

The company started in 1904 when Edward, John, Henry and Herb Fromm started the company on their family farm in Hamburg, Wis. The teenage brothers started growing ginseng on a quarter acre their father, Fredrick, allowed them to use. Then, their sister Erna Fromm married Edwin J. Nieman, Sr. Later on, in the 1920s Edwin J. Nieman, Sr. and Fromm Brothers Inc. formed Fromm Bros. Nieman Company, which is now  known today as Fromm Family Foods.

In 1949, the first bag of Fromm Meal was sold. In the ‘70s Fromm ventured into lifestyle specific recipes with recipes like “Hi Stress” food for working dogs.  In 1984, Tom Nieman returned to Wisconsin and took the reins of the family business from Edwin J. Nieman, Sr. after graduating with a chemical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and gaining professional experience at a Minnesota-based company. After years of innovation and coming out with different types of food, such as Fromm Gold Nutritionals, Fromm came out with the Four-Star Nutritionals, which was released in 2003.

“In a lot of companies, people make decisions on an annual, quarterly basis, or sometimes a daily basis, in terms of what they think the opportunity is in terms of the valuation of a company,” Tom Nieman said. “So their planning process is much shorter, because of the market place will define the company’s value in the short term. The investment bankers have now jumped into it and their investment horizon is typically anywhere from three to five years. So they will flip it and get in and out. Our timeframe is more generational. From my grandfather, to father, to myself to my sons, we tend to make much more long term decisions and strategic planning based on a generational timeline.”

Fromm Generation to Generation

Bryan and Dan Nieman are the fifth generation in the family business as they prepare to take the reins of the company.

“It’s a lot to live up to but it’s very valuable and rewarding learning each aspect of the business,” Bryan Nieman, brand director of Fromm Family Foods, said. “To my father’s credit, we have been going through a rigorous training process, learning every aspect of the business from the delivery of raw ingredients, understanding the manufacturing process and ultimately delivering the product to the store shelf.”

Dan Nieman said it certainly can be a lot of pressure, for a company that has been so successful for so long, but at the same time it’s a great opportunity.

“In general, one of the reasons we have been around for so long is due to a long-term focus,” the assistant operations manager for Fromm Family Foods said. “We are obviously not out to make a quick buck and get out. We are in it for the long term, so down the line my brother and I are going to be able to shape the business, based on the market and consumer needs all the while maintaining our company and family values; a commitment to producing quality products and selling them through independent retailers. It’s really exciting and we understand it is a unique opportunity.”

Retailer’s View

Bark Avenue Pet Supply is an independent, privately owned company in Mesa, Ariz., that opened in 2005. It is a company that is very particular when it comes to what foods they allow to be sold in their store.

“We started working with Fromm mid-year in 2010,” Nancy Stewart, manager and buyer of Bark Avenue Pet Supply, said. “We brought Fromm in based on a request from a customer that was familiar with the line and wanted to know if we could get it. It wasn’t a line we were familiar with, though I have friends in the dog community in the Mid-west that have sold Fromm for years, so I have heard of it but didn’t know anything about it.

“We brought it in at that point and we just kind of laugh with Fromm that we started out with three bags on the shelf. So it started very, very small and then customers would see it and would ask if we could get such and such formula. So we would bring it in and it started to grow and it currently has 20 feet of space, one wall of our store, and we are going to need to expand again. It has become a very, very dynamic brand for us.”

According to Stewart, there are a lot of things they like about Fromm, some of which include that they are a private company and that they are as particular about their retailers, as Stewart is about what foods she brings into the store.

“So it’s not a brand that is going to be cheapened out there on the market place,” Stewart said. “We also like the fact that their quality is extremely consistent. We don’t get bad bags with Fromm. We don’t get kibble changing colors, we also like the fact that they believe, as we do, that it is important to sample your product and make sure you have the right product for the right pet.

“We do a heavily sampling program with them and we found that with them in the vast majority of cases when we send people with two or three different brands to try with their dogs, Fromm wins with the taste test. Customers select Fromm, their pets select Fromm and we choose to do business with Fromm.”

Celebrating 110 Years

At the 2014 Global Pet Expo, Fromm Family Foods will have a lot of different announcements for current and future clients.

“We are launching a couple of new products, we are having a hospitality suite for two out of the three days of the show, where our customers and associates can come unwind and learn about Fromm,” Bryan Nieman said. “We will unveil a new documentary style film that’s part of our new website, which we will also launch at Global.

“We will also be launching a very useful tool for our inside sales, retailers and distributor partners. It’s actually a web application, but it will allow us to more closely communicate with each individual retail store.”

Tom Nieman said the success of Fromm is based on the success of the independent retailer channel.

“We need to bring new innovative products to them and ways they can communicate what they offer in terms of knowledge and products to their potential customer base. We are very interested in their success and we try to allocate resources to them to have that kind of success.”

One of the new features Fromm Family Foods will have is to help retailers online.

“One of the tools we are excited about is we will be able to have a rep go into a store with a tablet, sit down with a storeowner and help them market Fromm foods,” Bryan Nieman said. “Our rep can spend about 20 minutes and they can figure out a description for their store, identify what they carry, even take down what hours they are open and by the time that rep leaves that store, that store can have a Fromm webpage, it will be a sub webpage of our overall Fromm website, can be marketed to consumers in their local area. So we are helping to build our independent retailer’s customer base through these new types of tools that are available to us.”

One thing both Bryan and Dan stress to people is that they are committed to the independent channel.

“It’s not something new to us, 110 years strong now,” Bryan Nieman said. “My brother and I will both be at Global meeting new customers and existing customers just trying to drive that message home, that we are there as a partnership.”

Innova Introduces Nature’s Table

Natura Pet Products‘ Innova line of dog and cat food recently introduced its new Nature’s Table Grain Free Dog and Cat Foods and Treats during an invite-only, farm-to-table dinner in New York City, which featured the same farm-grown ingredients found in its product line.

Nature’s Table brings the farm to a pet’s bowl, using real, wholesome ingredients such as sweet blueberries, seasonal pumpkin and fresh carrots. Ingredients that are grown and raised with care, from places they know, by trusted partners, like handpicked apples from Evans Fruit Orchards, in Washington State.


Like all Innova products, Nature’s Table does not contain any chicken by-product meal, fillers, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. Animal protein is always the first ingredient, helping to maintain lean muscle mass. The products are grain and white potato free, with no gluten added.

During the event, attendees were able to feast on a menu prepared by chef Kerry Heffernan and inspired by the fresh ingredients you would find in the new Nature’s Table line of products. The four course meal, included entrees like smoked chicken breast with lentil and root vegetable ragout and rosemary custard, carpaccio bison with cranberry agrodolce and sunflower chive oil and pumpkin brulee with sweet whipped cottage cheese and Mexican cinnamon.

Dog owners can choose from five nutritious dry recipes and two treat recipes:

  • Grain Free Farm-Raised Chicken & Savory Turkey Recipe Adult Dog Food
  • Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Wild Herring Recipe Adult Dog Food
  • Grain Free Ranch-Raised Beef & Red Lentils Recipe Adult Dog Food
  • Grain Free Adult Dog Food with Ranch-Raised Bison & Green Lentils
  • Grain Free Adult Dog Food with Pasture-Raised Venison & Split Peas
  • Grain Free Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe Dog Treats
  • Grain Free Ranch-Raised Beef & Garden Peas Recipe Dog Treats



Cat owners will have two nutritious dry recipes and one treat recipe to choose from:

  • Grain Free Farm-Raised Chicken & Tender Turkey Recipe Adult Cat Food
  • Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Peas Recipe Adult Cat Food
  • Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Savory Chicken Recipe Cat Treats


The company will have their new product line on display at the Global Pet Expo.

Oscar Nominees’ Gift Bags Help Shelter Pets

This year, celebrities who don’t take home the Oscar Gold at the  Oscars will still be winners in the pet community, as Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres’ pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets, in partnership with, is giving 20 non-winning Oscar nominees 10,000 meals of natural pet food to donate to the animal shelter or rescue of the celebrity’s choice.

The gift is part of the coveted $55,000 nominee “Everyone Wins at the Oscars” gift bags from Distinctive Assets, the LA-based marketing firm that launched the craze of celebrity swag 15 years ago, and will once again be consoling non-winning Oscar nominees in the Best Actor/Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress and Director categories with an array of special products and services.

The Halo and gift makes a notable departure from the typical expensive gift bag products geared toward leisure time and pampering and taps into the penchant of many celebrities for giving.

With this in mind, the 10,000-meal donation to the animal rescue or shelter of the recipient’s choice is one of the most expensive items in the gift bag, a $6,100 retail value.

“We know many celebrities are extremely generous,” said David Yaskulka, Halo’s vice president of marketing communications. “So we decided to gift them with something different that we think will mean a lot to them. We’re looking forward to making those donations!”

Well known for its year-round philanthropic efforts, Halo, Purely for Pets partners with to donate more than 1.5 million meals to shelter pets each year.

The company also donated 1 million meals to shelter pets for the U.S. Postal Service Adopt a Shelter Pet Stamp Program, and sponsors the acclaimed PBS series “Shelter Me.”

Celebrity recipients will also receive some Halo Spot’s Stew food and Liv-a-Littles treats for their own pets to enjoy.

In addition to Halo and’s donation, lucky “losers” will receive luxury items like Chocolatines chocolate, Slow Watches, the PolarLoop activity tracker, luxury trips and more.

New Pet Expo Brings Retailers, Manufacturers Together

The inaugural NYC Re-Tails & Sales Expo, recently brought Northeast pet retailers together with national pet manufacturers who only make their products in the USA, for a day of networking, introduction to new items and special sales.

The “Made in America” themed event was the idea of Dana Humphrey, owner and founder of Whitegate PR, and Nancy Hassel, founder and president of Long Island Pet Professionals with Pet Age and Made in USA Certified as sponsors.

Humphrey explained a local event like this helps both the local independent retailer and manufacturers, especially the smaller ones.

“I do a lot of events in the pet industry, and Nancy and I felt that there was something missing for New Yorkers to have an event where there could be buying going on,” Humphrey said. “There are all these fashion shows where the public is invited and no one is buying anything. So what do these small independent manufacturers do? Maybe they can’t afford to go to Global, maybe they can’t afford to go to SuperZoo or maybe they don’t even know how to do that type of show. So we wanted to give them something local that they could drive to. There are so many boutiques in New York City, why not start here and get some orders going to kind of just get the buzz going and be able to have a sales environment. Then from there, we got the Made in the USA theme.”

While different pet companies came from around the nation to show off their long-standing products, others used the expo as a time to show off their new ones. Jane Bell, the owner of pet portables, recently launched a miniature version of her larger first aid kit.

“I came today because not only are all my products human grade but they are made in the USA,” Bell said. “It is also an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Julie Reiser, co-founder and president of Made in USA Certified, said the pet sector is extremely important for them, because of the amount of consumers who are looking for made in the USA products.

“Consumers don’t really realize that the ‘Made in the USA’ claim, like putting a flag on there or saying it is made in the USA, is a very unregulated claim,” Resier said. “While the Federal Trade Commission does oversee that claim, they’re not actively pursuing and going after those companies that use that claim that maybe should not be using it.”

Retailers from around the area came to the day-long event to  find products they may never have heard of otherwise.

“If we could meet one brand and get one connection that works, if we could find a treat we are not carrying or a supplement we don’t know about or a food topping and put it in our campaign we do, it could be really great,” Vito Mileo, business relations manager of Pet Flow, said.

Hassel said that early on, and throughout the day, orders were being filled out and a lot of selling had happened. The venue was also smaller, allowing retailers to take their time with each individual manufacturer.

“We already have a waiting list of people who want to do this again,” Hassel said. “A couple of the vendors already told us today before we even started, ‘put us on the front of the list,’ so yes, we will definitely do it again.”

Stephen Trachtenberg, the owner of Chasing Our Tail, creates a 100 percent original all natural dog and cat treat, and came to the event to gain more exposure for his product.

“We cover New England really well, which is where we live, and we cover west of the Mississippi well because we have been to Super Zoo a couple of times,” Trachtenberg said. “So it’s really hard to find that show and fill that gap, there are really not a lot of shows to fill this gap in this area [New York City]. We have done really, really well today, absolutely worth the drive today.”

Critter Zone, an air purifier that doesn’t use filters or chemical sprays, originally started in Minnesota then moved to Tennessee and then finally moved to China, but things are different now.

“About six months ago we came to the realization that we need to support America,” Shar Weinrauch said. “By the time we were waiting for all the goods to come across the sea, and then you have to make sure you got the pipeline full of product, because if it’s on the ship you have to spend exuberant amounts of money. So we said, ‘Why not just bring it back?’”

Since moving back, Critter Zone has acquired some of their old employees, and in turn creating jobs for Americans.

After the event, Humphrey said they plan to put together another show like this.

“We had an amazing interest and there were a lot of people who couldn’t make it today,” Humphrey said. “We are definitely going to do another one, absolutely. It may not be ‘Made in the USA’ themed, it may be another theme, but we will absolutely do another, maybe even in the fall because of how much interest has been shown.”

Photos from NYC Re-Tails & Sales Expo

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

The 138th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show took place at Madison Square Garden Feb. 10-11, where Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier captured the Best in Show title.

But, before that there were many other dogs both in the ring and behind the scenes that captured the hearts of judges and spectators.

Here is a look at some of them.



Winter Weather Nightmare for Pet Retailers

There are a lot of difficult decisions a small business owner has to make when running their business.

This winter, one of those decisions has been a lot tougher for pet retailers in especially colder climates – to close, or not to close.

“It is one of the hardest decision I have to make in the winter,” Heidi Neal, owner of Loyal Biscuit Co. in Maine, said. “We don’t want people out driving in it and we tend to look at what the other retail stores near us are doing. Employee safety is number one, but you also want to be there for your customers if they are out of dog food, but you are also hoping they are not out and about, because it is dangerous out there.”

Neal’s comments about deciding whether or not to close her three locations, came Wednesday after Mother Nature dumped inches of snow and ice across the Northeast. While driving to one of her locations she decided it was too treacherous and made the call to shut the stores. She announced it on her company’s Facebook page.

“Good Morning LBC Fans! We have made the decision to close for the day due to the snow. I started towards Belfast for the day and it is piling up fast and expected to last all day, I don’t want my staff, or my customers, out in this. Please stay warm and safe and we will see you all tomorrow!”

Afterward, she explained to Pet Age, “I always try to look at the current status,  and the radar. All of New England is covered. Even if they could have gotten there, they wouldn’t have been able to get home.  There was just no way.”

In the four years of owning the store, this has been the worst winter, she said.

“We live on the coast and are secluded in our harbor,” she explained. “We tend to run warmer than other places in the state when they get snow we rain or slush. And it is very functionable. This year is different. There is a lot  more snow than we had in the last four years and they have been big storms. It hasn’t been a couple inches here or there. It’s been 10 inches per storm. For us, that is a lot.”

During the previous three years, she has only had to close her stores once per season, and closed early a few times because of snow. This year, however, is a different story.

“We closed completely two times already, opened late once, which we have never done and closed early three or four times at this point and it’s only the beginning of February, and we have two months to go,” she said.

How does this impact her stores’  bottom line?

“So far it hasn’t been as bad as anticipated,” Neal said. “Everyone knows the storm is possibly coming, and they come in the day before and stock up. The day after we are closed tend to be a better day than average. It impacts sales for sure. But, overall we see a bumb the day before and the day after.”

And, if they had opened, it may not have been worth risking everyone’s safety.

“If we had been open it would have been so slow,” she said. “We wouldn’t have done enough sales to make it worth it in terms of money. But, it’s still hard, because we want to be open and there for our customers.”






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