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Five Questions; Dave McLain, Alphia CEO & President

By Pet Age Staff//July 1, 2024//

Five Questions; Dave McLain, Alphia CEO & President

By: Pet Age Staff//July 1, 2024//

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Dave McLain is Alphia’s CEO and president, bringing more than 14 years of executive pet food experience and three decades of consulting, executive and officer experience to the table. He joined CJ Foods in 2019 after filling the roles of CEO of Perfection Pet Foods and SVP, CIO & CPO at Big Heart Brands.

Pet Age recently spoke with McLain to learn more about his personal experiences and views on the pet industry.


How has the pet food sector changed since you entered the pet industry 20 years ago?

The pet food industry has evolved significantly over my career. Two decades ago, the focus was on basic nutrition. Today, the consumer demand for high-quality products has transformed the market. The 2007 melamine crisis highlighted the need for transparency, quality, and safety. Modern pet parents now prioritize their pets’ health and well-being. Additionally, inflationary trends are causing a shift toward value products that maintain food safety and quality standards.


How would you describe a pet food brand partnership with Alphia?

Working with Alphia means fostering a relationship of mutual growth and deep collaboration. We see our customers—pet food brands and retailers — not just as clients but as partners. Our approach begins with understanding each partner’s unique identity and goals. Leveraging our decades of expertise in R&D, manufacturing, and food safety, we innovate and scale products that resonate with target consumers. Our ability to manage a diverse and complex ingredient portfolio helps our partners stand out in today’s competitive market.


What is the reason that your company is committed to food safety?

Alphia’s commitment to food safety stems from my deeply personal passion for making quality pet food, rooted in my firsthand experience during the 2007 melamine crisis. At the time, I was working in the industry for a different pet food company, when the recall occurred our call center saw an influx of concerned and upset pet parents. This influx went on for many weeks and extended over a holiday weekend.

Our leadership team stepped in to relieve our overwhelmed consumer communications team, I spent the weekend answering calls from distressed pet owners about their sick and dying pets due to contaminated food.

This heartbreaking experience profoundly impacted me and has shaped Alphia’s focus on nourishing and protecting pets. Ensuring the safety and quality of our products is more than business; it’s our moral obligation to the families who trust us. This dedication drives our stringent controls, significant investments in quality assurance, and steadfast promise to deliver pet health and safety.


In what ways has your background in engineering impacted your role as CEO?

My engineering background has been invaluable in my role as CEO, especially in adopting a problem-solving mindset. Engineering taught me to break complex problems into manageable parts, which is crucial for optimizing supply chains, refining production processes and strategizing capital allocation. This skill is essential in the dynamic pet food manufacturing industry, where we constantly adapt to new challenges and opportunities.


What can you tell us about Jack, and how he played such a big role in your life?

Jack was not just a pet; he was a family member and my best friend. Despite his small eight-pound size, his fearless personality brought immense joy and laughter to our family. Though he wasn’t the dog I initially envisioned (a mighty Australian shepherd), he was the dog I needed.

Jack taught me about the deep bond we share with our pets and why our work at Alphia isn’t just about food — it’s about contributing to the well-being of beloved family members. The memories of Jack underscore the importance of our commitment to quality and safety in every product we make.