Doug Poindexter, president of World Pet Association (WPA), has announced that he will retire after 27 years with the organization. The announcement was first made on July 25 onsite at SuperZoo, via the SuperZoo Show Daily publication. In recognition of Poindexter’s status as the longest-serving executive in WPA history and his weighty contributions to the organization and to the pet industry as a whole, the WPA Board awarded him with WPA’s highest honor, the Matsui Award. The award is named after former Board president, Jiro Matsui, and is presented to honor lifetime contributions to the pet industry.
“Doug is known internationally in the pet industry and was chosen for his achievements and contributions to the industry over his approximately 40 years working in it,” said Michael Twain, board chairman. “His vision, creativity, hard work, and leadership have played a role or directly resulted in many of the iconic pillars of the industry today. Examples are WPA’s four trade shows of 377,832 total square feet, 1,772 exhibitors, and 73,084 attendees annually. His expert knowledge on live animal issues, supply chain, and pet industry service sectors has been indispensable on legislative guidance as well as creating policies and direction.”
Poindexter will remain at the helm of WPA until the end of December and will serve in an as-needed capacity moving forward. While a replacement has not yet been identified, WPA is currently conducting a widespread search and anticipates announcing a successor in the fall.
Hired as Show Manager of America’s Family Pet Expo in 1990, Poindexter quickly climbed the ranks to Executive Vice President—then the highest-ranking position within the organization—in 1996. He received the new title of President in 2006. Over the course of his decades-long tenure with WPA, Poindexter led the organization to the achievement of numerous milestones, including the acquisition of Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference and the inception of Aquatic Experience in 2014, the rebranding and exponential growth of SuperZoo from a small, regional show with 400 booths to an internationally regarded event with more than 3,000 booths, the expansion of America’s Family Pet Expo into the world’s largest pet and pet products expo with over 10,000 animals adopted, and the overall growth of WPA from a four-person organization to a 20-employee association and trusted resource for the entire pet industry.
“I’m proud of where we’ve been able to take this organization—that we are known for being the rational voice,” Poindexter said. “I’m proud that we’re known for supporting what’s best for the industry and not what’s best for our personal businesses.”
Poindexter’s retirement marks the culmination of a fruitful 48-year career in the pet industry. From his first job as a cage cleaner at Woody’s Pets in Monrovia, California, to the opening of his own pet store—Doug’s Animal House, in Hacienda Heights, California—in 1980, to several professional leadership positions, Poindexter has left an indelible mark on an industry that he’s truly passionate about and he is proud to pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.
“WPA has grown into an association with more than 20 employees, all of whom are dedicated, diligent and passionate about moving the pet industry forward,” he says. “I am confident that WPA will remain a strong, engaged member of the pet community after my departure and look forward to seeing the fresh ideas and perspective that my successor brings to the table.”
“Doug will be missed, but never forgotten,” Twain said. “Doug’s ability to build consensus, to manage and work together with people of diverse opinions on industry issues, and his creativity and vision will be missed. Doug has always been highly communicative and an absolute pleasure to work with. He has always given credit to others for all the great things that he has achieved, taking none for himself, and always operated with a great deal of humility. Anyone and everyone who has ever worked with Doug will miss seeing his positive approach and his sunny disposition.”