PetProducts.com is sad to report that Allen Simon passed away on January 6 at the age of 81. Referred to as an icon by the pet industry, Simon will be remembered not only for his enormous success and influential leadership, but for his integrity, kindness, and generosity. In the later years of his life he got great satisfaction from mentoring young people and encouraging entrepreneurship.
“With determination and hard work anyone,” he would say, “even a kid from Brooklyn, like me, with a learning disability, can be successful and make their dreams come true.”
Allen prided himself with close relationships with customers and friends all over the world. He had the gift to connect with people from all walks of life. He loved people and they loved him! He was passionate about his friends, business, making good deals, and most of all, his family.
If you don’t know the name, Allen Simon, you definitely know Wee Wee Pads, the product he invented and that had an unprecedented impact on the pet industry. Wee Wee Pads was the most famous of a large line of pet products in the company he founded in 1970, Four Paws Pet Products. Today, his legacy continues under Central Garden & Pet.
He started in the pet industry with a retail pet store in Brooklyn called Puppy City that still operates today as a family business. He decided to expand into manufacturing pet products and in 1970 started Four Paws. Under Allen’s leadership, Four Paws became one of the fastest-growing companies in the pet industry. Wee Wee Pads were the flagship of Four Paws and still is the number one selling product of Four Paws today. Over the years, he expanded his product lines. In the early 1990s he purchased Cosmic Pet Products (Hagerstown, Maryland) followed by Mustang Pet Products (Damascus, Ohio) in the mid 1990s.
In 1997, Simon sold Four Paws to Central Garden & Pet, a publicly traded company but stayed on as president and CEO until 2013.
In 2014, Simon started PetProducts.com, which began as a directory for the pet industry. In 2019 the business changed its direction and became an online seller for all things pets. Thanks to his efforts, the business continues to grow today.
Over the years Allen was featured on TV shows such as What’s My Line and The Big Idea: Donny Deutsch, which aired nationally on CNBC on February 14, 2012; the Big Idea being Wee Wee Pads. He was also featured on the Joan Rivers reality TV series How’d you Get So Rich?, which aired nationally on TV Land in 2010.
Allen was an extraordinary person in business and in life. His tall stature, deep tan, white hair, and commanding presence made him instantly recognizable everywhere he went. His passion for winning was only matched by his desire to help others. There were his charities, of course, but his everyday giving to those in need were the hallmark of a man with a big heart and a gentle soul.
At the time of Simon’s passing, Central Garden & Pet released the following statement: “Central Garden & Pet is saddened to hear about the passing of Al Simon, a pioneer and innovator in the pet industry. We send our sincere condolences to his friends, family and those who worked with him.”
Simon is survived by his wife, Cynthia, his daughter, Jodi and her husband Andrew, his son, Stephen, seven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.