Posted: Jan. 10, 2013, 4:50 p.m. EST
Growing larger by the month, Seattle-based Animal Supply Co. acquired another distributor this week, expanding into the East Coast with the addition of Summit Pet Product Distributors.
Terms were not disclosed other than a notice that Summit Pet president Jay Joyce, senior vice president Mike Copeland and the company’s managing partners became equity investors in Animal Supply.
Summit Pet will continue to operate under its current management and the same name, Animal Supply reported Monday.
The Greensboro, N.C.-based company distributes pet food and pet products throughout North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Animal Supply Co. followed its recent acquisitions of Lone Star Pet Supply and Zeus & Co. California with the purchase of Summit Pet Product Distributors.
The company’s warehouse and delivery systems caught the attention of Animal Supply chairman Randy Reber, who said the facilities ensure accuracy and on-time delivery.
"Summit Pet is a best-in-class operator that has built a 25-year reputation of excellent customer and vendor service,” Reber said. "Similar to our recent partnership with Lone Star, Summit’s common culture and unwavering commitment to excellence in the pet specialty market makes this a truly synergistic combination with Animal Supply.”
Animal Supply in November completed its acquisition of Lone Star Pet Supply
of Schertz, Texas, expanding into Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. The December acquisition of Zeus & Co. California (West), a division of Chicago-based Zeus & Co.
, increased Animal Supply’s footprint in the Western United States.
The combined businesses cover 30 states, represent more than 300 pet product manufacturers and deliver to more than 5,000 pet stores, Animal Supply reported.
, owner of Kriser’s, a natural pet products retail chain in Illinois, Denver and Southern California, compared Animal Supply’s growth to what he has seen in the manufacturing sector.
"I knew this would be the next wave,” he said. "There’s nothing left in the manufacturing end because most of those have been gobbled up, too.”
Kriser’s works with 12 to 15 distributors, and its owner said his experience with Animal Supply has been positive since he opened stores in Colorado.
He acknowledged benefits to working with smaller distributors such as Monarch Pet Products of Denver and SweetBay Hol-Sale of Clarendon Hills, Ill., because of the relationships he is able to build and the personal service.
Connecting with a large distributor such as Animal Supply is important, too, Kriser said.
"So far we’ve been very happy with Animal Supply,” he noted. "They’re been responsive. They have the manpower to do what’s needed.”
One thing that frustrates Kriser is when a manufacturer offers a product through a single distributor. He still may stock the item.
"It depends on the product itself,” he said. "If it’s something we firmly believe in and like a lot, then I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot. We do have preferred distributors we work with.”
Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. of Wheeling, Ill., sells to Animal Supply, Summit Pet and about three dozen other distributors, president Holly Sher
said. She said Animal Supply does an "A-plus job for me” and offers "tremendous” programs such as its PRISM store design and merchandising tool.
Smaller distributors, including what she called "mom and pops,” are key to Evanger’s success as well, Sher said.
"My smaller distributors do a very good job, but they do different things, they cater to different kinds of stores,” she said. "The small distributor goes into the store and doesn’t represent a zillion lines. The smaller distributor will sell fewer lines and spend more time educating the retailer.”
Chip Sammons, owner of Holistic Pet Center
in Clackamas, Ore., recalled when Animal Supply was a small player in the industry. The distributor was founded in 1987.
"I remember way back when it was just Randy Reber and John Shine who owned Animal Supply,” Sammons said. "I went into their office and we discussed a particular thorny issue and resolved it before we left the room. That was nice.”
Working with the now-larger distributor isn’t as easy sometimes, he added.
"The last few weeks I have had another thorny issue pop up, and so far we’ve involved half a dozen people in the possible solution, and it’s taken lots of time and involved lots of frustration.
"I long for the days that I could just go resolve a problem in Randy and John’s office.”
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