Pet Age is looking for industry icons who have shown a long-term commitment to the success of the pet industry based on experience, integrity and leadership. Successful candidates will have at least 20 years in the pet manufacturing or servicing industry. The award recipients will be recognized and profiled in the July issue of Pet Age. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges. This year’s judges are Beth Sommers, president and chief merchandise officer of Pura Naturals Pet; Steve King, president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), and Don Tomala; co-founder and managing director of Matrix Partners. All are past recipients of Pet Age’s ICON Award.
Though she grew up only allowed to have goldfish, Sommers has always had a deep love for animals. Her start in the pet industry came in 1989 after she met Gayle Martz, the founder of the Sherpa bag, who opened her eyes to all that the pet industry offered. The idea for Pura Naturals Pet was something Sommers had been thinking about for a long time. Her dog, Girlfriend, who passed away in 2016, was highly allergic to so many products and food, so she decided to give pet owners eco-friendly, USA-made tools to raise and care for their pet in the healthiest way possible.
Steve King, CAE, has served as PIDA’s chief staff executive since 1990. He also serves as executive director of the Pet Care Trust. Prior to joining PIDA, King served as assistant general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. He is an attorney, earning his J.D. degree from the National Law Center at George Washington University in 1982. He received his Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives in 1993. King lives in Maryland with his wife, Jackie, and Frank the dog.
Don Tomala is the managing partner of Matrix Partners, Ltd., one of the nation’s only pet-centric brand strategy, marketing and communications agencies. The company’s expertise spans from brand strategy and consumer research to package design, public relations, social media and digital marketing. The roots of his pet product branding and marketing expertise trace back to the Quaker Oats Company, where he launched and managed numerous high profile pet product brands including Kibbles ’n Bits. After overseeing marketing and general management assignments at Sara Lee and other Fortune 100 companies, Tomala formed Matrix Partners in 1996 with Dennis Abelson, his partner. Over the years, brands like Stella & Chewy’s, Swheat Scoop, Bravo, Caru, Inaba Ciao, FreshWorx, Health Extension and dozens more all have been influenced by Tomala’s branding expertise and insights regarding consumer behavior.
• May be self-nominated or nominated by another person.
• Only one individual may be nominated per company.
• Nominees may be employed in for-profit pet manufacturing or servicing businesses or nonprofit organizations.
• Must hold a senior management-level position with significant authority in decision making for their organization.
• Cannot be a member of the judging panel or a member of any judge’s immediate family.
The nominations deadline is Friday, April 20. Any questions can be directed to Wendy Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org.