Behind the Scenes: Marshall Pet Products
The company looks toward future development, as it considers product expansion a natural growth within the industry.
By Lindsay Hanks
When Marshall Pet Products’ customers talk, the company’s employees listen.
Marshall Pet Products, which has specialized in ferret distribution and quality pet ferret distribution for over decades, is broadening into small mammal and cat markets as well.
Courtesy of Marshall Pet Products
“Our national expansion has been based on customers’ requests,” said Peter Reid, president and COO of the exotic pet product company. “It’s a mature marketplace, but all markets adjust and change as consumers’ habits change. When customers ask you to do something, do you ignore them?”
It’s been this way from the beginning, when Gilman Marshall began raising ferrets on his family farm in 1939 to meet the need for rodent control that was common among farmers at the time. It remained a family-run side-business for decades. As ferrets gained popularity as exotic pets in the ’70s and ’80s, the Marshalls developed their hobby into a full-fledged breeding business that continues to thrive under family ownership today. According to the company, “Marshall Ferrets have become the No.1 choice and are available worldwide, all year long.”
As ferret ownership increased, customers turned to the supplier with requests for quality products for their pets. And in 1992, the family started Marshall Pet Products to meet the growing demand. Reid, who was previously the company’s sales manager, began growing the product-manufacturing segment of the company as more and more distributors asked for product suggestions comparable to what the Marshalls used for their animals. The Marshalls merged product manufacturing with their animal distribution in 1994, and they now focus on providing a full range of good for the pets.
AT A GLANCE
Marshall Pet Products
Location: Corporate office and warehousing located in Wolcott, NY
Owner: Marshall family
Employees: Approximately 70
Years in Business: 70
Areas of distribution: Worldwide
Company Motto/Mission: “Marshall Pet Products considers itself to be a solution finder, based on our dedicated staff’s innovative thinking. Accordingly, we are constantly adapting to meet the needs of the ever-changing marketplace. The ferret niche has seen a lot of growth over the past 70 years, but as we move forward, we understand that our expertise can help us in not only maintaining a stronghold in the category but also reaching out to other mainstream areas and expanding our offerings. We have always been proud of providing solutions for unique pets; that won’t change, but we also embrace the future and finding solutions for common pets as well.”
Annual Revenues: Undisclosed
Product categories: ferrets, small animal, cat, dog
Product line: Marshall Ferrets, full line of ferret products, Peter’s Small Animal Products, GoodBye Odor for Cats
“We saw the need develop before our eyes,” Reid said. “It started with nutrition. People would say, ‘We want to feed what you’re feeding yours.”
The company, which specializes in natural ingredients, responded by releasing a food developed by veterinarians, nutritionists and exotics experts. The meat-based Marshall Premium Ferret Diet features ingredients fed to the Marshall Ferrets for more than 60 years.
“Food is the backbone of the company,” Reid said. “It was about as close to an instant success as you can say in this industry.”
Marshall may have started with nutritional goods, but the company has since grown to include a full range of goods for the exotic pets—an expansion which employees consider to be a natural progression to meet their customers’ needs. Marshall offers it all: cages, bedding, toys and treats. Customers even wanted clothing for their pets, and now they have it.
“We started with a handful of products and now have over 150 products in our line,” Reid said. “The goal at this point is to develop the line and give people everything they need for successful pet keeping.”
In that spirit of growth, Marshall developed Peter’s Boutique Bunnies and Peter’s Naturals line of food, toys and grooming tools for small mammals. And the company just released its first feline product, as well. Based on the popularity of its original Bi-Odor Internal Waste and Urine Deodorizer products for ferrets and small mammals, Marshall’s GoodBye Odor for Cats Internal Waste Deodorizer marks a first step into the feline and canine market.
“We’re going slowly to produce more for small mammals, cats and dogs,” Reid said.
Reid stressed that the industry is market-driven more than anything else, adding that the key to his success has been in the company’s ability to supply its customers’ demands in a timely manner.
“Some companies have become so large that their reactions times to customer needs have slowed,” Reid said, noting Marshall’s smaller company size. “We’ve been able to react to their needs quicker and in a much more meaningful way to make our customers more than just a number like at a larger corporation.”
Reid considers the company’s diversified mix of companion animals and products available well-balanced for any market changes ahead, saying that “It’s how you handle the challenges and find solutions that makes you a successful company.”
Although future product plans are too pre-mature to discuss quite yet, Reid said, “Let’s just say 2010’s going to be an exciting year.” <HOME>
Lindsay Hanks is associate editor for Pet Product News International magazine.
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