Pet Insight spoke with Fritz Goodnow, Chief Operating Officer and VP of Sales for Rush Direct, about how the company differentiates from competitors, the biggest challenges facing the overall pet industry and which types of retailers Rush Direct prefers to work with.
PI: What influenced you to work in the pet industry?
FG: I’ve always had an interest in pets, and my wife is a veterinarian. Timing and dumb luck was what brought me into the pet industry. When I was at Wal-Mart they needed a buyer for the pet department and – it was about 15 years ago – I loved the industry and it was a natural fit. It is such a fun industry to be part of. It’s not dominated by one or two players. It’s serving a permanent market – people are always wanting to buy something special for their pet. It’s exciting because there’s always something new and there’s room for innovation.
PI: What prompted you to work for Rush Direct?
FG: I’ve known Charles (Ferreira)for about 15 years. I first met Charles when I was a buyer at Wal-Mart. I just found they were wonderful, ethical people who get the job done quickly. We maintained this relationship over the years, and then this opportunity came and it was a great fit.
PI: How does Rush Direct differentiate from competitors?
FG: The key to Rush is to being in front of innovation in the industry. We’re able to see what’s coming. We’re up against fantastically big companies and we have to be able to be out there and ahead of those other companies. We have to be onto the next big thing before they’re there.
PI: Who do you view as Rush Direct’s primary competition?
FG: Everybody in the treat business is our competition, and there are a lot of great players out there. Competitors make it better because then we have to innovate and make things more rapidly.
PI: How does the company’s structure provide advantages over competitors?
FG: By being lean, having experience in the industry and getting things done faster than the competition. We can quickly identify opportunities, and we can take a product from concept to shelf in 90 days.
PI: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the overall pet industry?
FG: There’s always a lot of people who think they can just drop a product into the pet industry without really understanding who that market is, what the retailers’ needs are, what the customers’ needs are and making sure it’s always the best quality product that meets consumers’ needs. There are a lot of unfocused products. That’s one of the biggest challenges facing the buyers’ side.
PI: Where do you see the chews category heading within the next five years?
FG: We certainly have some ideas on where the category is going and where we’re going to be headed. I can tell you there’s an awful lot to be done with the chews category.
PI: How does Rush Direct work with retailers?
FG: As a former retailer I take that focus of really understanding the retailer and who their customer is. We understand who their market is and where it’s headed. We want to deliver a product that will help that retailer, at a great price and a great quality. We are based on who we are – we’ve been in the industry as long as we have because we treat people openly, honestly and ethically, and we never compromise on those principles.
PI: Which types of retailers does Rush Direct prefer to work with?
FG: We’re looking for the quality retailers out there who really understand their customer and want to have a better product to offer to that customer. Large or small, it doesn’t really matter, instead it matters how we’re bettering the industry and the focus on the pet.