WPA Recognizes Retailers and Industry Leaders
World Pet Association (WPA), the organizer of SuperZoo, recognized several pet retailers and industry leaders during multiple events over the course of the three-day show.
New this year was the WPA Pawsitive Impact Award, which was bestowed to David, Michael and Rob Twain during the WPA Chairman’s Reception, which was held at the House of Blues Foundation Room in the Mandalay Bay Resort on Tuesday, Aug. 20. The award was designed to honor a person, group or company that has made a positive impact on pets and the pet industry.
The Twains are “incredibly deserving of this award,” said Mike Lasky of SLA Brands, who is also a WPA board member. The Twains/Feathers family members were pioneers in the pet industry through three generations, Lasky noted. They have had a family member on the WPA board for 64 of the association’s 69-year history.
The Twains have also been involved in all aspects of the pet industry, WPA noted, such as retail (22 Scamps Pet Stores), distribution with Apollo Pet Supply, and manufacturing and importing with Choo Choo Imports, One Pet Planet and Amazing Pet Products.
“They have quietly—and not so quietly—been tremendous pet and pet industry advocates, leaders and supporters,” Lasky said. “It is with great honor we present them with the WPA Pawsitive Impact Award.”
This year’s WPA Hall of Fame inductees, Lance Reyniers and Dave Williams, were also recognized during the WPA Chairman’s Reception.
Reyniers was a dedicated WPA board member who “put his heart and soul into every WPA event and was a huge contributor to America’s Family Pet Expo,” Lasky said.
He founded Python Pet Products and created problem-solving products for aquarium and pond hobbyists that aim to make tank maintenance easier.
“Lance used to say ‘Our Products Really Suck,’ which is a compliment when you are cleaning or draining a fish tank,” Lasky said. “He was an innovator and creator of many great products that have stood the test of time, and if you’ve ever cleaned a fish tank, you know Python.”
WPA voted Reyniers into the Hall of Fame in March and notified him of the honor just before he died in April.
“He was both touched and humbled with this recognition and was greatly appreciative to be recognized by his peers,” Lasky added.
Reyniers’ wife, Janet, accepted the honor on his behalf.
Williams is a former WPA board member and was in charge of sales at WPA for the last 15 years of his career.
Williams has been in the pet industry for 44 years. Prior to joining the WPA, he worked in pet distribution from age 19 and worked his way up from an entry-level position to upper management, according to officials. Williams then spent time in the retail pet business as well as in the manufacturing side of the pet industry.
Shortly after Williams started with WPA, he told Doug Poindexter, then the executive director/president of WPA, that he wanted to make SuperZoo “the must-attend” show in the pet industry. During Williams’ tenure, the trade show has tripled in size, Lasky said.
“Both Dave and his wife, Diana, always put WPA as a top priority and generously gave of their time in helping and supporting every WPA event and endeavor,” Lasky said. “Their commitment and dedication to excellence created a model for others to emulate. WPA is proud to announce that Dave Williams is the WPA Hall of Fame Award recipient for 2019.”
B.C. Henschen, partner at Platinum Paws in Carmel, Ind., was also recognized by WPA at the Chairman’s Reception. He was honored for outstanding service and dedication as a WPA board member.
The WPA honored Greg Judge of Southeast Pet with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Resort.
Judge has been “a great pet and pet industry supporter and advocate,” Lasky said. He was a founding member of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), serving on the board for two terms, where he was instrumental in getting legislation passed to regulate the safe and proper transport of tropical fish, according to officials.
He also became a lobbyist in Georgia to advocate for companion animals and was an integral part of writing legislation protecting pets, Lasky added. In addition, Judge has served on the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) board, and a few years ago he was given an industry Icon award.
Judge got his start in the pet industry after managing three family fish stores in Long Beach, Calif. In 1965, Judge partnered with his uncle and co-founded Long Beach Fisheries in Georgia. In 1975, he opened Southeast Pet Supplies in Atlanta.
“One of the things that has impressed me most is when Greg decided to retire, instead of selling the company to a larger entity, Greg wanted to make sure his employees were taken care of, so he sold the company to his employees in 2015, and today Southeast Pet is 100 percent employee owned,” Lasky said. “And yet ‘retired,’ Greg still goes to work almost every day.
“It is a privilege to recognize someone who has done so much for pets and the pet industry, and the WPA is proud to honor Greg Judge as this year’s winner of the WPA Lifetime Achievement Award,” he added.