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From PILC: A Point to Be Well Taken


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Bob Vetere

At an event like the Pet Industry Leadership Conference (PILC), it’s exceedingly hard to pinpoint one main takeaway that makes the whole conference worthwhile. For starters, the most valuable takeaway will likely be different for each attendee depending on any number of variables, from which company someone represents to each person’s unique interests and preferences. And, as usual, there are many high points to choose from. However, there is one message that should probably hit home with everyone in the pet products industry, no matter their role or position within it, and that is, the industry needs to continue learning how to be its own best advocate. 

This is a point that Bob Vetere, outgoing president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), essentially made during his address during the first day of the PILC event, being held this week (Jan. 27-30) at the La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio. The pet community has “one heck of a voice,” he asserted, and collectively, the manufacturers, retailers, distributors and other participants that comprise this community must use that voice to convey to the public that the all-mighty dollar is not the sole motivator that drives their businesses. The industry, in fact, is made up of thousands of individuals who got into pet compelled mainly by their passionate love for pets. 

Still, as scrutiny of everything from how pets are acquired to what companies are putting in their dog or cat food, it has become an important goal for the industry to chip away at the cynicism some people may feel toward those associated with the business end of the pet community, such as manufacturers and even storeowners. Vetere is not suggesting that consumers swap their cynicism or discerning eye for blind trust. Rather, he is calling for industry-wide changes that contribute in concrete ways to the building of that trust. And, he’s asking the industry to trumpet its best-kept secret—that the love of pets is truly at its heart. 

For more on this, you’ll have to check out our March issue, in which Vetere shares this secret and more in a farewell Q&A. 

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