Officials at the American Pet Products Association (APPA) announced today the retirement of President and CEO Bob Vetere effective following the 2019 Global Pet Expo, March 20-22. The APPA board has selected Steve King, president of Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), as APPA’s next president. King will be joining APPA in January of 2019. Vetere and King will work together to ensure a smooth transition until the official retirement.
“On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Bob for his dedicated and exceptional leadership of APPA for 16 years,” APPA Chairman Kevin Fick said. “Bob’s passion for this industry is undeniable. Many important initiatives have come to fruition because of his commitment to advancing the industry. We wish him the best of luck in his retirement.”
Since taking the helm at APPA in 2002, Vetere has made his mark in this nearly $70 billion industry and is often featured as a spokesperson and guest columnist in publications and through television appearances on shows like CNNFN, “ABC’s World News Tonight” and CNBC. He has been quoted in leading print outlets including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal and authored the book “From Wags to Riches: How Dogs Teach Us to Succeed in Business & Life.”
Under Vetere’s leadership, APPA’s membership has nearly doubled, growing from 668 to 1,270 current members. Further, he has led several pet industry-wide initiatives and is credited with establishing the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), the Pets Add Life Campaign (PAL) and the Pet Leadership Council (PLC).
Vetere was honored at Global Pet Expo 2016 with the prestigious Rolf C. Hagen Hall of Fame Award for his achievements in the pet industry and is a recipient of Pet Age’s prestigious ICON Award. He has also received the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) Chairman’s Award of Excellence.
“I have given my all to this industry for many years, and it was very important to me that my replacement be someone with the same passion that has fueled me, and I’m fully confident that that person is Steve King,” Vetere said. “I’m so grateful for my dedicated staff and every one I’ve worked with along the way, and now look forward to stepping back and enjoying retirement.
“It truly has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as your president and CEO,” Vetere said in an email to APPA members. “Witnessing our remarkable industry grow and thrive, and to be a part of the mission of promoting the joys and benefits of responsible pet ownership, is without a doubt the highlight of my career.”
“During much of my tenure at PIDA, I’ve had the privilege of working very closely with Bob and his team at APPA,” King said. “He has done a tremendous job leading this organization and I look forward to working with him to make this a seamless transition. I am thrilled at this opportunity and hope to continue his legacy of service to APPA members and the entire pet care community.”
King has served as president of PIDA since 1990. He has also served as executive director of the Pet Care Trust for the past nine years which promotes pet ownership most prominently through the Pets in the Classroom program. King played a key role in the decision for PIDA and APPA to join forces to create Global Pet Expo and The Pet Industry Leadership Conference. He points out that while he will assume the role of CEO, the title of APPA president has yet to be determined.
“I am confident APPA, and the pet industry, will be well served with Steve at the helm,” Vetere said. “Steve’s 28 years of experience in this position coupled with his knowledge of the industry and proven leadership abilities, make him the ideal candidate to serve as our Association’s next CEO.”
According to a letter King sent to PIDA members, in his new role, he hopes “to foster these commitments and look for other opportunities for cooperation that strengthens the pet care community.”
“Sustaining the incredible growth the industry has experienced in recent decades is job one” King told Pet Age of the primary challenges he intends to focus on once he takes the position of APPA CEO. “APPA should be positioned to provide members with the tools they need to be successful. More broadly, we need to work with partners throughout the pet care community to ensure a sustainable, humanely-sourced supply of pets and help the public understand the many benefits of pet ownership.”
In the meantime, according to King, “the PIDA board of directors, under the leadership of Chairman Mark Smith, will work over the next few months to determine the best way forward and ensure that PIDA continues to meet the needs of wholesaler distributors and their suppliers and customers.”
As far as planning for the next Global Pet Expo, King says his and Vetere’s roles will stay the same.
“APPA and PIDA have been partners in producing Global [Pet Expo] for nearly 15 years now, and planning for each show begins after the prior show ends,” King said to Pet Age regarding his future involvement in Global Pet Expo. “Bob and I will continue to lead our respective teams in preparing all aspects of the 2019 show, then I will take over Bob’s responsibilities at the conclusion of next year’s event.”