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7:08 PM   April 20, 2014
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25 to Watch in 2008

Who will leave their marks, for better or worse, on the pet industry this year? Who knows? But we’re making some educated guesses about who might warrant attention during the year. From A to Z, these 25 individuals promise to challenge the status quo.

R.K. Anderson, D.V.M.: After more than six decades as a veterinarian, one might think this 85-year-old co-inventor of the Gentle Leader would be resting on his laurels. Not so. In 2007, he launched the Animal Behavior Resources Institute, a nonprofit educational resource for animal behaviorists and their clients, and kick-started the Morris Animal Foundation’s R.K. Anderson Animal Behavior Research Endowment Fund with a $100,000 donation toward a $5 million endowment to fund animal behavior studies. 
 
William Brown: The chairman of Central Garden & Pet returned to the day-to-day management of the company, filling in for former president and chief executive officer Glenn Novotny, who resigned abruptly. Brown called 2007 one of the toughest years in Central’s history, with volatile grain prices and bad weather hurting results and forcing the company to postpone a public offering. Toward the end of the year, the company’s stock was trading at about one-third of its 52-week high. How will Brown describe 2008?

 Rory Carr: The president of Vancouver, B.C.-based RC Products, which markets RC Pet Products, CanineFriendly and Canine Equipment brands, poised his pet business for an eventful 2008 with pet gear licensing deals with Columbia Sportswear and, for Canada only, VanOC, the organizing committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The Columbia deal in particular gives RC access to new cutting-edge fabrics and new customers, such as REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Carr now has to deal with uncharted territory with the Canadian dollar being worth more than the U.S. dollar (as of late 2007).
 

Michael Dagne (right) of Moochie & Co.

Michael Dagne: Moochie & Co. co-founder Dagne brings  top-notch retail experience, high energy and enthusiasm to the pet industry. Having already developed a strong concept (mall-based pet gift stores), Dagne and team have recently implemented branding programs designed to bolster growth (a hub-and-spoke distribution and consultancy with veterinarians and boarding facilities) and a product-based campaign against dogfighting. Innovations should continue in 2008.
 
Roger DeGregori: A fresh approach to the aquarium business may pay off for DeGregori, whose chain of upscale aquarium showroom and specialty stores operate under the Fish Gallery banner. These showrooms highlight aquariums in a stunning manner and support DeGregori’s Aquarium Environments aquarium design, installation and maintenance business. The service end pioneers new markets for the retail end, with galleries targeted for Denver and possibly San Antonio.

Colette Fairchild: As trade shows director for H.H. Backer Associates Inc., Fairchild will oversee the move of the group’s spring show from Atlantic City, N.J., to Baltimore with the hope that Baltimore holds the charm to revitalize the show. Working against Fairchild is the May 2008 show’s proximity on the calendar to Interzoo. But she should benefit from Global Pet Expo’s earlier than usual run (Feb. 14-16) and West Coast location (San Diego), making Baltimore the single East Coast trade show for the year.

Carol Frank: Previously listed in 2005 for planning to sell Avian Adventures within five years, Frank recently make good on that prediction by selling Avian Adventures to Midwest Homes for Pets. She now will focus on her new consulting business, The Murphy Consulting Group, where she plans to leverage her experience keeping birds and running retail, distribution and manufacturing businesses.

Bill Hemby: A retired San Francisco police officer and Russian wolfhound fancier, Hemby formed PetPAC to fight California legislation that would have mandated pet owners to neuter their pets. Hemby attracted more than 35,000 supporters to the cause and more than $200,000, and will continue to battle the legislation in 2008 as it’s scheduled for a new hearing in January. Hemby envisions a political action committee that would support candidates that respect pet owners’ rights.
 
Paul Henderson: Although the chief executive officer of Canada’s private-label pet food maker Menu Foods has had some positive news lately, with sales increasing as customers return following the recalls, chartering Menu’s rebound will not be an easy task, made more difficult by a multitude of lawsuits and a strengthening Canadian dollar.

Stephanie Kaplan, Pet Industry Distributors Assn.
Timothy Hovanec, Ph.D.: After nearly 17 years as chief scientific officer at Marineland and a former multi-term president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Dr. Hovanec is back with his own company, Dr. Tim’s Aquatics. Hovanec has bought the former Marineland research labs in Moorpark, Calif., closed in 2007 by Spectrum Brands/United Pet Group as part of its ongoing reorganization, and the non-compete clause of his separation agreement with Spectrum ended shortly before the Backer show this past fall.

 Stephanie Kaplan: Having recently joined the Pet Industry Distributors Assn. as director of online education, she will focus on supporting PIDA’s Pet Store Pro online training program, set to launch next month at Global Pet Expo. Available free to retailers, the program will train new pet store hires on animal care and business basics, such as selling skills and merchandising techniques, through an online program that will allow store managers to monitor their progress. Through the program, PIDA hopes to help independent pet retailers improve store performance and reduce employee turnover.
 
Patty Khuly, V.M.D., M.B.A.: Dr. Khuly may be on the verge of becoming the next celebrity veterinarian, with a weekly column in the Miami Herald, daily blog Dolittler.com (recently ranked among the top 10 pet health blogs by Fox News), occasional reporting for NPR and a regular column in Veterinary Practice News (a sister publication of Pet Product News International). Plus, her sister is a television producer. And yes, she actually practices veterinary medicine in Miami.

John Lazarchic: As vice president of e-commerce at Petco Animal Supplies, Lazarchic is making a name for himself as an early adopter of new technologies, keeping the Petco.com site on the forefront. These technologies include customer reviews of products, e-mail authenticity certification programs and live aquatics sales. Given that Petco chairman Brian Devine is a former computer programmer who is passionate about data mining and that the private company can invest in technology without worrying too much about immediate returns on investment, Lazarchic should continue revamping how Petco interacts with customers online and in stores.

Catherine MacIvor: An attorney with Miami-based Maltzman Forman PA, MacIvor filed a class-action lawsuit against several major pet food manufacturers and retailers alleging that many commercial pet foods were fraudulently advertised as healthy and safe and contained waste products, including euthanized dogs and cats and toxic chemicals. The case is pending and is unrelated to all the pet food recall lawsuits.

Tim Mason: He is the chief executive officer of Tesco’s Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market, the U.K. retailer’s $2 billion push into the U.S. over the next five years. Although the pet section is small (12 feet of dog and cat food and treats and cat litter, all Mars and Nestlé Purina except for four SKUs of Prideful Pet chews), the stores themselves offer an alternative in the U.S. supermarket landscape: small footprint, discount prices and an emphasis on ecological, fresh and upscale items. Mason’s plans call for 50 stores by February and 200 by the end of the year, mostly in Southern California and neighboring states.

Craig O’Keefe: Perhaps it’s a matter of the market catching up with him, but O’Keefe’s Pet Aromatics, a maker of natural grooming products, ranked No. 721 on Inc Magazine’s annual list of fastest-growing private companies in America, and No. 18 in the consumer products category. The company has grown revenues by 466 percent to $2.3 million since 2003. O’Keefe’s 2008 plans include a cat line and international expansion.
 
Maria Peevey: Simply put, Peevey’s SimplyShe expects its recent deal with Wal-Mart to at least triple its annual pet product revenues to $60 million. Given that the company entered the pet market in 2005, that’s startling. Under the deal, Peevey designed three additional pet fashion lines exclusive to Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart greatly expanded its pet fashion section, allotting 16 feet of shelf space to SimplyShe’s lines. Peevey’s business includes greeting cards, children’s and women’s apparel, and syndicated dating advice for print and TV.

Patty Khuly, V.M.D., M.B.A., Miami; daily blog Dolittler.com
Scott Ragan: The head honcho of Three Dog Bakery joined the company in November 2006 and has already left his mark. That mark includes a more focused grasp of expansion markets—affluent areas with lots of foot traffic, with California, Texas and Florida being key markets in the near term; an expansion of packaged goods (including a line of spa products, treats and maintenance diets); and a flair for publicity (inclusion of treats in Emmy swag bags or local “dine with your dog” events).

Jessica Rook: Daughter of Hunte Corp. founder Andrew Hunte and wife of Hunte president Steve Rook, Jessica Rook opened her fourth Petland store in November. Situated in Springfield, Mo., Rook’s newest Petland is the largest ever at 23,000 square feet, and features store-within-a-store La Bone Bakery and Boutique, a 20-foot-long shark and stingray aquarium tank, and a Paws Day Spa staffed by three professional groomers and  offering a self-service option.
 
Danny Selman: During 2007, Lone Star Pet Supply of Schertz, Texas, added general manager to vice president Selman’s title and oversight for sales, operations, information systems and purchasing to his responsibilities. Lone Star’s acquisition of House of Pets Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas-based specialty distributor of grooming, spa and boutique items serving 35 states via UPS, is pending. The deal calls for House of Pets to retain its name and operate as a division of Lone Star, with business operations consolidated in Shertz. Selman will surely play a key role in this consolidation.

Farell Shaftel: While other direct sales organizations have focused on Tupperwarish pet product parties, Shaftel’s network marketing company TASI (The American Solution Inc.) is being designed to capitalize on regular buyers and e-commerce capabilities. His ambitious plans—35,000 field merchants marketing up to 750 SKUs to 2 million customers—have already attracted interest among some manufacturers looking for alternative channels. Shaftel, an attorney who has been working on the concept since 2002, previously worked with Sears, the Department of Justice, the Small Business Administration and franchise organizations Roland Cos. (as general counsel) and Bryman Schools (franchise operator).

Steven Spitz: The founder of Big Apple Herpetological of Hauppauge, N.Y., expanded aggressively in 2007, building an Oracle-based database and entering the dog, cat, small animal, aquarium and pond market segments. In doing so, the business dropped Herpetological from its name, picked up 40 new vendors at the Christmas Backer show alone and will find itself building new warehouse capacity in 2008—if the aggressive plans pan out.

Jim Walker: The president of Global Pet Food Stores Inc. should consider changing his name to more accurately reflect the growth of this Canadian family of pet specialty stores, which includes the Global Pet Foods, Ryan’s Quality Pet Foods and Global-Pitou Minou banners. Walker is very proud of the chain’s growth: Overall revenues climbed 30 percent to more than $40 million for its fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2007, with same-store sales growth tracking at 17 percent. The company also added at least 19 stores during 2007 to end the year with at least 92, and expects to hit the 100 mark two years ahead of plan. It recently doubled its plan to 200 stores across Canada, including at least 35 in Alberta. The chain also listened to its franchises and will focus the charitable efforts of its Global Pets and Animals Foundation toward local pet charities.
 
Wu Yi: In the wake of myriad scandals, including the pet food, children’s toys and toothpaste recalls, the vice premier of China is heading up a cabinet-level panel charged with improving China’s overall product safety. Enough said.

Matthew Zadravec: German aquarium and pond product company Sera maintains a major presence in Europe and Asia that it has not re-created in North America—yet. But for the first time, at least in recent history, the company has decided to send its man from Slovenia to oversee U.S. operations. With close ties to the founding Ravnak family, Zadravec will be better able to communicate North American market realities than previous agents were able to—and he personifies Sera’s investment in the North American market.  <HOME> 


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