We recently sat down with Ted Mischaikov, CEO of Healthy Pet, to talk about the company and its philosophy.
Q: Tell us a little about Healthy Pet.
Mischaikov: Healthy Pet used to be known as Absorption Corp., and most in the industry have known us for our CareFRESH line of small animal products. Last year, the company was acquired by J. Rettenmaier and Söhne, a global manufacturing company that focuses on natural fiber processing for pet care, life sciences and a variety of technical applications.
Some in the industry know JRS for their European market leading Cat’s Best and Chipsi brands. We like to think of ourselves as having the best of both worlds since we operate as an independent division dedicated to North American pet products, but have the support of an over 100-year-old global company behind us.
Healthy Pet today is moving beyond just the CareFRESH line to a broad portfolio of pet products. With the support of JRS, we are entering the natural fiber cat-litter market in a big way in 2014. First, we acquired the Simply Pine brand in February. In March, we launched our all-new ökocat line of wood and paper litters, leveraging the best-in-class technology JRS has developed over the past 15 years for their Cat’s Best line.
In addition, we will be introducing new innovations and packaging across our CareFRESH, Critter Care and Arm & Hammer small-animal lines this Fall. We also continue to pioneer the emerging dog-litter category with our Puppy Go Potty paper pellets.
Just as important to us as our new products, are our innovations in how we do business. We see the pet industry as “growing up” rapidly and believe there are major opportunities for companies with the operating excellence to capitalize on them.
Over the past year, we’ve developed a new strategic plan outlining a course focused on being consumer driven and following the best practices of a consumer-packaged goods company, rather than the manufacturing-centric approach many companies follow. We are substantially increasing our investments in advertising and consumer promotions while developing strong foundations in consumer insights and trade spending analysis.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
Mischaikov: One of the great things about my job is that there really is no “typical day.” Often I start out very early for phone calls with JRS headquarters in Germany. After that, my time can be filled with anything from new product innovation meetings to interviewing prospective employees, to discussions about plant automation improvements. While I can be pulled in many directions, it keeps things exciting and rewarding.
Q: Your company tapped into the “green” market before it was cool. What advantage does that give you over your competition?
Mischaikov: You’re right, CareFRESH has always been made from residual fiber and now our ökocat litter will be as well.
No virgin trees are cut to produce any of our products. All of the fiber is sourced from the “leftovers” from making products like paper and lumber. Almost as important, our two manufacturing facilities are both located for maximum efficiency.
Both are in areas of the country with high concentrations of fiber processors, so material is only trucked a short distance. And they are also located along major coastal highways, so they are close to many customer warehouses and the consumers they serve. This creates a system where we not only use reclaimed material, but also reduce diesel costs and greenhouse gasses from transportation.
The magic of our system is that we are ecologically conscious in a way that is also economically efficient. Many companies attempt to be environmentally friendly and end up adding a lot to their cost structure. For Healthy Pet, efficiency in natural resources and in cost of goods go hand in hand.