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Five Questions: Steve Ball, CEO of North America at H&H Group

Glenn Polyn//March 1, 2023//

Five Questions: Steve Ball, CEO of North America at H&H Group

Glenn Polyn //March 1, 2023//

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Health & Happiness (H&H) Group made big news in 2021 when it agreed to acquire Zesty Paws for $610 million. The sale highlighted the growth potential for products designed to make pets healthier and happier. Sales of pet supplements are expected to easily exceed $1 billion by 2025, according to industry reports. Pet Age recently spoke with Steve Ball, CEO of North America at H&H Group,

(Editor’s Note: At the time of the following interview, Steve Ball held the position of CEO of H&H Group North America. Since then, H&H Group released an official announcement that Rafi Kalachian had been named the new chief executive officer of H&H Group North America.)

 

What did H&H see in Solid Gold and Zesty Paws to cause it to acquire them?
The H&H Group is on a mission to help millions lead happier and healthier lives. With the acquisition of Zesty Paws and Solid Gold, we were able to align H&H Group’s mission of health and happiness for all with our passion for pets. Bringing the two brands together under H&H Group’s Pet Nutrition Care pillar, we’ve been able to seize greater opportunities for Zesty Paws and Solid Gold and provide transformative supplementation and pet foods to people and their pets worldwide. Solid Gold was acquired in 2020 and brought with it its pioneering spirit of innovation and high-quality nutrition solutions to cats and dogs. The combination of Solid Gold’s values and established legacy and reputation in the pet food market, along with the growing demand for pet nutrition globally, made it a compelling opportunity for the H&H Group. The acquisition of Zesty Paws in 2021 was another pivotal moment in the company’s evolution. When I first joined the team, Zesty Paws was only available direct-to-consumer and online at Amazon and Chewy. Now, Zesty Paws has expanded enormously as a leading omnichannel brand in top retail stores like Target, Walmart and PetSmart as well as internationally. Customer loyalty to the brand and the efficacy of the products made it an extremely attractive investment for H&H Group. Ultimately, it came down to the fundamental idea of seeing pets as family members, which is engrained in the fabric, the DNA, of who we are at Zesty Paws, but also who H&H is.

How would you describe the growth of Zesty Paws?
We’ve seen explosive growth for Zesty Paws over the past couple of years, emerging as a leading omnichannel brand. Beyond establishing and growing our relationships with major retail partners like Target and PetSmart, and expanding internationally into Walmart Canada, we also entered the independent retail channel with Phillips Pet Food & Supplies last year. Our goal is to ensure that pet parents can find Zesty Paws products anywhere they choose to shop. In the last two years, Zesty Paws has added more than 35 new products to its supplement selections, expanding its cat product portfolio, launching into the puppy category for the first time, and introducing a vet-approved advanced formula of some bestselling products. The brand also launched two exciting items for dental health and training for dogs: our All-in-One Functional Dental Bones and All-in-One Training Bites.

What’s been the secret to Solid Gold’s lasting success?
Solid Gold is a brand rooted in innovation. The founder of Solid Gold, Sissy McGill, was a pioneer in the pet industry in the 1970s and one of the very first to introduce a holistic recipe that promotes gut health for pets. McGill transformed the industry, finding a niche market that pet parents were attracted to. Over the years, Solid Gold has continued to evolve and develop its product line, expanding into wet food for cats and dogs, meal toppers and bone broths. The secret is continuing to keep McGill’s values of innovation and uncompromising quality at the forefront as the brand continues to grow.

How do you see the pet supplement category evolving?
The demand for pet supplements is growing worldwide as pet parents learn more about the health benefits. The increase in pet ownership and the rise in spending on pet care are propelling the growth of the pet supplement market in North America. We see pet supplements continuing to become part of a pet’s everyday routines as pet parents find value in functional nutrition. Zesty Paws continues to take advantage of this growth with its strong retail presence and growing portfolio of quality functional supplements for all life stages, and Solid Gold is also stepping into the supplement category

Why is it important to you that Solid Gold and Zesty Paws give back?
Creating a happier and healthier planet is at the heart of everything we do. We’re proud to support the pet community through philanthropic efforts like volunteering, in-kind and monetary donations, and more. In 2022, our pet brands collectively donated over $300,000 in support of the pet community, including a monetary donation to support the Greater Good Charities efforts in Ukraine and contributing over $250,000 overall in product donations to nonprofits, rescues and shelters across North America.

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