Pet Age recently spoke with Dave Jensen, co-founder of LupinePet, to discuss the evolving pet collar market and the impact that attending Global Pet Expo has on manufacturers.
How would you describe pet collars in 1990 when LupinePet entered the market?
When Scott, Valerie and I started Lupine in 1990, the pet collar market consisted primarily of solid color nylon and leather. At our first trade show, we received lots of attention from folks who’d never seen anything like Lupine’s colorful designs. Most people were interested, but there were certainly some who thought it was too wild for their taste!
In 1990, most dog collars were sold with metal belt-style buckles. The development of nylon side-release buckles greatly reduced the number of SKUs that pet specialty stores were required to carry and reduced the amount of wall space, too. Working with YKK in Macon, Georgia, Lupine developed a custom nylon side-release buckle that was stronger than any plastic buckle on the market.
Why is it important to you that LupinePet products are produced in the United States?
All Lupine products are proudly built in Conway, New Hampshire, a ski town in the White Mountains with a population of about 10,000. Making our products here allows us to design and build the highest-quality products we can and provide steady jobs for our neighbors at the same time.
Another advantage to making all our products here in New Hampshire is that we can respond very quickly to demand. This means that when you order products from Lupine, we will never backorder any items. Every order ships complete, every time.
What is LupinePet’s MicroBatch program, and how has it been received by retailers?
Everyone knows how challenging it is to be a pet specialty retailer today. One way to compete is to offer new products that the big box stores don’t or won’t carry. The LupinePet MicroBatch program helps dealers by offering new designs for all sizes of dogs and cats every month, with no minimum order and no display to buy. Some dealers might want something new every month, some less often, allowing the retailer to make their collar/leash display look new whenever they want.
Upcoming designs are visible on the website and can be pre-booked by those dealers that want to be sure to get the earliest delivery, or dealers can order them ‘on-the-fly’ whenever they want a new look for their wall.
What made you decide to create your “Even if Chewed” guarantee?
Whenever a consumer returns to a store with a chewed up leash, the dealer is caught in a trap. They can either replace the product for the consumer, or risk losing the customer’s future business. With our guarantee, the dealer doesn’t have to worry about either.
If a consumer returns a Lupine item that has been chewed up, the dealer can give the consumer a new item, log in to the website, upload a photo of the damaged item and a credit for the value of the item will be placed on the dealer’s account. If the dealer doesn’t have the right item or doesn’t want to participate in the program, the consumer can return the item directly to Lupine and we will mail out a replacement directly to the consumer.
What can attendees expect to find at your exhibit this year at Global Pet Expo?
We will be showing a large display at our booth (#4027) featuring our MicroBatch program, as well as starter packs of Originals, ECO and Basics lines. Lupine Originals come in dozens of different designs for different tastes. Our ECO line is a soft, subtle two-tone weave made from recycled plastic bottles, available in a rainbow of trendy colors. Our Basics line combines classic solid colors with the unsurpassed premium quality, strength and durability that Lupine is famous for. As always, all of our products are covered by our “Even if Chewed” guarantee. Just look for the giraffe with a long neck’s worth of collars!