Tim Cofer is CEO of Central Garden & Pet, a company that has been at the forefront of the pet care community.
Why did you decide to make the move from the food industry to pet and garden?
I’ve had the good fortune to have spent my entire 30-year career in the consumer products industry, and I’m passionate about leading great companies, developing people, building brands and creating shareholder value. When presented with the opportunity to join Central Garden & Pet, I jumped at the chance. Central has great brands, incredible relationships with our customers and most importantly, significant untapped potential to be bigger, better and more profitable. In addition, I am a dog owner and an avid gardener, so the personal fit to the industries was perfect. I’ve been at Central Garden & Pet for over a year now, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this company and the highly attractive and resilient garden and pet industries.
What can you tell me about “Central to Home,” your new long-term strategy?
For those not familiar with Central, we are a market leader in the garden and pet industries dedicated to helping gardens bloom bigger, pets live healthier and communities grow stronger. Our company celebrated its 40-year anniversary in 2020. I am proud of our past and even more excited about our future.
Our “Central to Home” strategy is a new strategic framework that sets a bold ambition and is a compelling and contemporary roadmap for the next chapter of our growth. It starts with our purpose to nurture happy and healthy homes, is accompanied by our mission to lead the future of the Garden and Pet industries and culminates with our five strategic pillars:
- Consumer – Build and grow brands consumers love
- Customer – Win with winning customers and channels
- Central – Fortify our Central portfolio
- Cost – Reduce costs to improve margins and fuel growth
- Culture – Strengthen our entrepreneurial business unit-led growth culture
We call it our “Central to Home” strategy because it reinforces our unique company purpose and our bold ambition to lead the future of our industries. It was co-created by more than 150 Central leaders. We launched it internally in October and shared it externally at an Investor Day in December. We have received a lot of positive feedback, notably from our 6,300 employees who are inspired by the clarity and confidence in our future.
Can you talk about the pet industry in a post-COVID world?
The pet industry is a very resilient space that performs well in good times and bad. In fact, our most recent data suggests that total pet ownership increased more than four percent through September, which translated to 2.7 million incremental households with pets. This growth is disproportionally fueled by the next generation; 57 percent of millennials and Gen Z have recently become new pet parents. This clear increase in pet ownership bodes well for the continued strength of the Pet industry, and we see many trends in a post-COVID world that reinforce the strong growth prospects of the industry for years to come.
First, humanization: I can tell you from personal experience, as a proud owner of a 3-year-old malshi dog, that Toby is the fifth member of our family. And it turns out, I’m not alone! Approximately 95 percent of Americans view pets as family. This creates a significant opportunity for products and services to address the ever-evolving humanization trend.
Second is Health and Wellness: Pet health and wellness supplies are accelerating across all pet segments and growing at a rate 70 percent faster than just two years ago. This includes not only physical health but also the emotional wellbeing of pets.
Third, is e-commerce: Pet e-commerce has grown five times in the last five years. This explosive growth will continue to make online sales the fastest growing channel for years to come.
What can you share about your CSR work?
CSR presents an opportunity for a positive evolution of our thinking here at Central. This work is already integrated into our enterprise roadmap, and we believe it’s critical to our mission to lead the future of the pet and garden industries. Through our new Central Impact initiative, we are concentrating on three focus areas: Community Health, Employee Well-being and Sustainability. We can, and will, positively impact our consumers and where they live through philanthropic work; our customers by ensuring supply chain security and health; our operations by reducing waste and our impact on the Earth; and our employees by becoming a destination for top talent in our industries, investing in employee learning and career development programs and embracing diversity and inclusion.
While we’re early on this journey, there are some milestones we are proud of. For example, in fiscal year 2020, 83 million pounds of ocean plastic and recycled materials were used in our pet beds and outdoor cushions as replacement to virgin material, and approximately 125 million “green energy dog bones” were produced in the USA using company-owned solar power. We are excited to partner with all our stakeholders to ensure Central delivers a sustainable future for all.
How have pets changed your life?
Pets have been part of my life since I was a boy. I got my first dog, a registered Beagle at age four. I’ve had many cats, dogs, fish and more throughout my life. As I mentioned, my family currently has a playful Maltese Shih Tzu named Toblerone, or Toby for short. When I work from my home office, Toby often lays at my feet and enjoys listening to all of my meetings. Just like for pet lovers all over the world, Toby brings joy to my family every day.