Pet Age recently spoke with John Parrottino, CEO of Healthy Dog Chews, to learn how the family-owned and operated company has evolved over the years to remain in the forefront of the competitive dog treat sector.
What sort of growth have you seen since launching your company in 2007?
Since starting in 2007, we have seen significant growth in our business. We started with only four bully stick SKUs, and now we have grown to over 100 all-natural SKUs. My wife and I started selling out of our garage to local stores in 2007. We now have two warehouse facilities and cover all the states throughout the United States.
How would you describe your mission statement?
Our mission statement is to provide the independent retailers with the highest quality products at direct prices. We don’t sell our products through distribution, which eliminates an additional touch point and the additional cost. We pride ourselves on a very personal high touch model that creates very loyal customers. When you call us, you’ll get a real person that typically will pick up within the first few rings. We also typically ship the same day or next day.
Where do you source the meats for your chews and treats?
Our bully sticks are primarily from South America [which] is known for its free-ranging stock. We source many of our other beef products like trachea, hooves and bones from Midwest facilities that offer hormone and antibiotic free. The moose, elk and deer antler are a renewable resource, as they are collected once the animals shed them yearly. We have facilities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming that collect the sheds, cut them and ship them to our central warehouse in Michigan.
Which of your products are most popular with retailers?
Our bully sticks are always popular, and besides the traditional straight odor-free bully sticks, we offer fun shape and sizes for all dogs. This would include a range of products from braided bully sticks for the heavy chewers to small 3-inch bully stick circles and bully stick spirals, Antler is right there with the bully sticks, and we sell three kinds of antler elk, deer and moose. Our moose is cut into basically a 4×6 panel and is typically more dense than the elk and deer. In our beef line, the trachea, cow ears and ox tails are always a hit. For the dogs that have beef allergies, our lamb and poultry lines offer a great alternative to beef. Within our beef line, the hottest item right now is the cheek rolls, which are from the softer part of the animal and easier to chew than a traditional rawhide product however.
What process do you use to create your odor-free bully sticks?
Our bully stick products are not chemically treated to reduce the odor. However, we drain our bully sticks vertically then spin dry them, which allows as much of the moisture and liquids to be removed naturally. While the straight bully sticks go through this process, the braided and shaped bully stick items have to be formed prior to the baking. These items will tend to have more of an odor to them, which the dogs like but owners sometimes don’t care for. It’s important to know that while the straights are “odor-free,” they are a natural product and not chemically treated, so they will have a slight smell to them.
What unique products are you planning to launch this year and beyond?
Most recently, we launched wild boar hide chips. These are from Texas, where the invasive species is destroying the ecosystem by over-foraging. We are excited to launch some really unique products in 2020. We will be launching a bone line that will be from the United States and will complement our knee caps and knuckle slices. We will also be launching some other all natural USA chews such as dehydrated chicken tenders, flat and round turkey tendons and a dental turkey tendon chew. Stay tuned!