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Five Questions with Matthew Rubin, Division President of Petsense by Tractor Supply Company

By Pet Age Staff//April 30, 2024//

Five Questions with Matthew Rubin, Division President of Petsense by Tractor Supply Company

By: Pet Age Staff//April 30, 2024//

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Matthew Rubin has served as divisional president of Petsense by Tractor Supply since February 2024 and is a member of the company’s executive committee. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president and general manager of Petsense from February 2021 to February 2024. He previously served as senior vice president of business development & growth at The Michaels Companies, where he was responsible for developing and leading MichaelsPro, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), while also managing key strategic growth initiatives across the company.

Pet Age recently spoke with Rubin to learn more of his journey in the pet care industry.


What are the three pillars that have been most important to the growth of Petsense by Tractor Supply?

First, as a company we are aligned around a common purpose, “Serving Pets Out Here.” This has wide-ranging strategic implications for virtually everything we do to fuel our growth and take care of our customers. It impacts where our stores are located as we focus on markets underserved for pet specialty options. It impacts our product assortment, so that we carry the relevant products for the pets and pet parents in the communities we serve. And it impacts our team members, where we seek to “hire our customers” — people who are passionate about pets and committed to delivering exceptional levels of service to our customers.

Our second pillar is providing a hometown and local experience combined with the strength and scale of a larger retailer.  It is a balance we are keenly focused on. It is our goal to ensure that no matter how large we get, the experience for our team, the pets and pet parents in our stores always feels local. We need to achieve this while still providing the products, services and capabilities discerning shoppers expect. This means carrying a curated assortment of brands at compelling values and prices… helping our customer shop how they want with convenient locations and ecommerce options like buy online, pick up in store, and local delivery… rewarding loyalty with our market-leading loyalty program, Neighbor’s Club…  being dependable with reliable in-stocks on key items… and having full-service grooming salons where we do everything from basic baths to full grooms using the industry’s leading products.

Our third pillar is the integration of the Tractor Supply brand with Petsense and the rollout of our Neighbor’s Club loyalty program. Our re-branding to Petsense by Tractor Supply has helped customers familiar with Tractor Supply, a brand which has been a trusted leader serving “Life Out Here” for more than 85 years, learn about us more quickly when we open a new location. Currently, more than 47 percent of Petsense by Tractor Supply customers also shop Tractor Supply. So, by having the same loyalty program, customers can now earn and redeem their loyalty points in both of our branded locations. This complementary partnership has led to customers shopping our combined banners more frequently and trusting us to serve both their Life Out Here and their Pets Out Here needs.



How would you describe the Petsense customer base?

Our customers are passionate about their pets. They very much consider them part of their families. They want to learn from our team members about innovations in nutrition and reward their pets with new toys and other products that enhance their lives alongside their pets. As I travel to stores, I love talking with customers to learn about their pets and their pet parent journeys. One of my favorite things is to see the pets that come and visit our stores. We welcome all friendly pets in our stores and our team members love handing out free treats from their aprons too!



What are you looking for in the brands and products that you carry in Petsense?

The size of our store is one of our strengths.  It is very shoppable and welcoming, with team members who are well trained and eager to help. Our format causes us to be very selective about the brands and products we carry. Our goal is to serve all segments of the “out here” pet customer. To do that, our merchants meet with all types of suppliers, large and small, that make products we feel would benefit our customers. That assortment is not just for dogs and cats; we carry products for reptiles, fish and other small animals as well.  When our merchants choose to add a supplier to our stores, they also put a premium on brands that are committed to innovation, impactful ingredients and improving the lives of pets.



What categories, such as fresh/frozen, do you see having the biggest growth in the next few years?

We are committed to the fresh and frozen assortment but again, in a very curated way. This has been a key area of innovation in nutrition development over the past couple of years.  We have selected a few key partners to be part of our nationwide rollout. We currently have fresh and/or frozen products in approximately 25 percent of our stores and growing.

Our merchants are always on the lookout for creative and emerging brands to partner with us. On our recent trip to Global Pet Expo, our merchant team met with existing suppliers, but put even more emphasis on finding those next items that may be not well-known yet, but would be highly beneficial to our customers.


Why have you created a printed resume for your dog Oliver?

It’s a funny story. As you know, many hotels and vacation rentals don’t allow pets.  There was a property that my family and I were going to visit with that same policy.  When we asked if our “fluffy child,” our nine-pound Shih Tzu named Oliver, could stay with us, they were very nice but said he couldn’t. So, we created a bit of a resume for him. It included places he has stayed at (without an accident!), airlines he has flown, trainings he has taken and even an endorsement from his groomer and vet.  They relented, and Oliver was allowed to stay with us at the hotel. A couple of the employees liked him so much they asked to take turns walking him!  It’s amazing to see the happiness a loving pet can bring to virtually every environment, which is just one of the reasons I am so privileged to do what I do for a living.