Pet Age recently spoke with Michael Baker, president and CEO of Pet Food Experts (PFX) to learn more about the wholesale distributor, how it was impacted by the COVID pandemic and its plans for expansion.
Q: What influenced your decision for Pet Food Experts (PFX) to acquire United Pacific Pet?
A: The acquisition of United Pacific Pet was part of a long-term strategic roadmap to expand PFX’s gold-standard service and diverse vendor portfolio to retailers throughout the west region. Like PFX, the UPP team has fostered relationships with their loyal customer base with a long-term commitment to providing an unparalleled customer experience. We’re thrilled to welcome 1000 strong independent pet specialty retailers into our PFX family.
Q: How do you feel the pandemic has impacted the independent ecosystem?
A: With the surge of pet adoptions, business is booming more than ever! Consumers are also embracing the “shop local” trend. Borne over the past year has been the ability for businesses to shape-shift and reinvent themselves. While the pandemic has, without question, put our creativity to the test, it has fueled a cascade of positive changes. Notably, the accelerated shift for retailers to create a seamless shoppable experience for pet parents. We’ve seen the rapid rise in buy online pickup in store and same-day delivery become an industry standard.
While the trend of valuing pets as family members was already well entrenched pre-COVID, the humanization effect continues to expand and drive increased demand for innovative and nutritious foods, treats, and products. The pandemic has introduced a new segment of pet parents into the indy space as they turn to high quality products and services to improve their pets’ wellbeing.
Q: How has the PFX brand evolved as you’ve expanded geographically?
A: PFX has always been motivated by a customer-centricity mindset, putting the customer at the center of our universe. We’re in the business of people. People are at the heart of everything we do- our team, our customers, and our vendors. We define the concepts of value and success differently and consistently offer valuable guidance beyond the realm of distribution. These key themes will come to fruition with the launch of our brand refresh this fall, which will feature an upgraded ordering platform, a new mobile app, refined messaging and graphics along with a modernized logo.
Q: What’s your vision for PFX for the future?
A: We pride ourselves on disrupting the traditional way of doing things. We’re always in search of a newer, bolder, more effective version of the status quo. As we continue to deliver on our aggressive growth strategy, the vision is to evolve technologically to meet the fast-growing needs of our customers and brand partners. Expect to see significant gains with the implementation of predictive modeling and machine learning resulting in enhanced inventory forecasting.
Q: What are your passions outside of the business?
A: When I’m not enjoying time with my loving wife and three beautiful daughters, you can find me on the golf course, out on the water, playing ice hockey or dreaming up the next big adventure.
I’m equally passionate about strengthening our communities and giving back. Life is a calling for all of us to be bigger than ourselves. Nothing you can get comes close to what you can give.