Pet Age recently spoke with Julian Attree, CEO of Minus Forty, the Canada-based freezer and refrigerator manufacturer.
How did the pet food recall of 2007 play a role in Minus Forty entering the pet industry?
I believe this was a very significant event for the “RAW” pet food category. Once the pet food recall occurred, pet owners received a wake-up call to be more attentive to the food they were feeding their pets. This obviously gave manufacturers of quality natural food products a significant advantage, including those companies promoting “RAW.” As retailers started to bring in some of these new formulas, they required refrigerated/frozen merchandise into their stores, which created a great opportunity for Minus Forty.
What are the key components that make a quality freezer system for pet products?
The key components to making a quality freezer or cooler would include a few different things: The first would be the quality of the design and engineering—the different parts that are used in the construction are very reliable when they are used within their design specifications. Take compressors, for example. When we select a specific compressor for one of our models, we must ensure that our designed operating systems are in alignment with the design parameters of the compressor to ensure reliable operation. After design, another key component is making sure we are using the best and most reliable components available. Quality can, and does, vary between different manufacturers. Then comes the actual manufacturing process. In our process, a key factor is the consistent repeatability of a process that ensures it is performed 100 percent correctly every time. Also, another important aspect is an in-house quality control program that everyone must learn and embrace.
What is a piece of advice that you would give to retailers who are looking to add a freezer to their store?
When deciding on a freezer or cooler, remember that—similar to pet foods—not all products are the same. We advise to avoid making your final buying decision based solely on the initial acquisition cost. If you make a bad decision, you will be paying for it over the lifetime of that unit. If you just have one service call or have a cooler go down once, the resulting cost in repairs or product loss could in just one event, make up the difference between buying a reputable unit versus an inexpensive one. And then, of course, you are not limited to one breakdown, a sub-standard product could have you spending much more that you ever anticipated. Another thing to consider is the operating cost, for example our cabinets are proven to be the most energy efficient on the market today, bar none! Also, it’s important to remember this is a merchandiser used to sell a product and you want it to be visually pleasing as well. In short, you must consider the full program: the Initial cost of acquisition along with the total cost of ownership, and the visual impact in your store. It might help to talk to other’s within your industry get as many recommendations as possible.
Why is a freezer display so important to selling frozen pet food and treats?
It is “retail marketing 101”—visual presentation is a key aspect to merchandising. Selling a pet food product or treat is no different. Just look around at other retailers and look at the efforts they take to create a warm and inviting environment. The effort to make the product look as appealing as possible is extremely important. In presentation, remember that it is not just being able to see the product, but also its placement. Does the product appear as appealing as possible, is the lighting suitable, is the product clearly visible by customers without needing to bend over or look around other items? It is amazing how significant the sell through or sales lift of a product can be impacted by the visual presentation. Retailers should never underestimate the importance of the display.
How has your own life benefited from having pets?
No matter how tough of a day I have at the office, when I come home my dog Cosmo is always happy to see me. He brings a level of positive energy to the room. He’s a great buddy and family member. Cosmo also possesses a great personality to have in our office. Everyone loves Cosmo, as he makes the team at Minus Forty happy, less stressed and more productive. He’s our little office mascot.