What encouraged you to join the pet industry?
Early on, I fell in love with pets and went to school originally to be a veterinarian. Shortly after graduation, I was drawn to the nutrition side of the pet industry after working for an independent retailer distributor right out of college. When I started, “natural” pet food was new, and I was fortunate to take part in some of the very first brand launches with retailers from a distributor’s point of view. I saw the success, excitement and most importantly the impact on pets of great brands like Wellness and Canidae, and from there I was hooked. I experienced the impact great brands like these had on a retailer’s ability to educate consumers and improve the lives of pets. I knew this was the industry for me.
How does the overall pet industry compare today to when you joined?
Our industry has changed dramatically. I started in distribution for independent retailers, when the lines of retail were much more defined. Early on, we saw some of the first brands unsuccessfully attempt to cross to into mass market, failed e-commerce, and the importance of brick and mortar and of retail recommendation for brand success. When you fast forward to today, you find the changing dynamic of e-commerce and the blurred lines of where super premium can be purchased. The industry, pet parents and the products we sell continue to evolve and change.
Which pet industry trends have caught your attention and how is the company addressing them?
We are seeing a more engaged consumer – far beyond nutrition and ingredients – from inclusion pieces to the rise of refrigerated products. It’s clear consumers are looking for a different feeding experience with their pets.
How is the company setting itself apart from competitors within the pet industry?
Alphia is focused on delivering value beyond kibble, with an emphasis on strategic relationships and delivering value to our customers that drives their success, including: market intelligence; research and development to identify trend opportunities; product development; innovate leadership; standard, exotic and unique ingredient sourcing; a commitment to safety and quality; and custom manufacturing.
Who has been your biggest advocate and supporter?
I was lucky enough to work for a few great leaders in my career, each of whom have given me the opportunity to succeed in new roles and responsibilities. Among those that have been the most influential are Jodi Barb (Newco Distributors), Frank Koch (Natural Balance Pet Food) and Dave McLain (Del Monte/Big Heart, C.J. Foods and Alphia). They influenced and challenged me to give my all to this industry.