Pet Industry Pillar
For more than 45 years, family-owned Coastal Pet Products has been a key partner and driver of success for pet specialty retailers.
While the humanization trend and the empty nests of Baby Boomers often get the lion’s share of credit for fueling the success that the pet care market has enjoyed in recent years, that success ultimately may not have been possible without the handful of product manufacturers that have long served as the bedrock upon which the retail pet industry was built. Coastal Pet Products is a prominent member of this exclusive list of pet industry pillars.
Founded in 1968 by brothers Jim and Tom Stout, Coastal Pet Products has always been a family-owned and -operated business that takes great pride in producing high-quality products for pets. Today, Jim is joined by his daughters, Kim Stout, COO, and Pattie Stout Szanti, senior sales manager, in continuing the focus on quality that has enabled the company, which started off with a modest product lineup, to grow into “The Quality Leader.”
“The Stout family is in this business because they truly love the pet industry, and we all care about pets,” explains Diane Thomas, marketing manager for Coastal Pet Products.
An important component of this attention to quality is Coastal’s approach to manufacturing. Many of the company’s products are made in its own Alliance, Ohio-based facility. Totaling more than eight acres under roof, the facility incorporates Coastal’s manufacturing plant, offices and warehouses, and gives the company the ability to maintain a high level of attention to production and quality assurance. In addition, it provides Coastal with the logistics capabilities that have become a hallmark of the company.
“We are extremely flexible, and we create programs that best meet the needs of our customers,” says Thomas. “We have stellar logistics, so our in-stock position is great and our on-time delivery is fantastic.”
In addition, on the logistics front, the company offers drop-shipping and flexible electronic ordering, as well as pre-pricing and name-on-label services for qualified customers.
Of course, Coastal Pet Products was built on more than just quality and logistics. The company has also embraced the role of innovator—particularly in the collars and leashes category. For example, it was one of the leading pioneers in using nylon webbing instead of leather. In addition, in the mid-1970s, the Stout brothers invented the Kanine curved buckle, which has gone on to become the industry standard for metal buckles. Later, Jim Stout introduced the plastic side-release buckle.
As a result of its innovative and conscientious approach, Coastal Pet Products has built a robust and loyal customer base that has driven dramatic growth for the company over the past half century. And as the company has grown, so too has the depth and breadth of its offerings. Whether through acquisitions or its own product development team, Coastal Pet Products has increased its product lineup significantly over the years to fulfill customer demand.
The company’s latest acquisition, which took place in March, brought Bergan Pet Products’ full line of travel products, feeders and food storage, and cat toys into the Coastal fold. According to Thomas, there were a couple of factors that made Bergan a particularly attractive addition. “We have similar core values,” she explains. “And they had a successful travel line, which was an area where we really wanted to expand.”
A Winning Lineup
Included in the Coastal Pet Products mix are keystone brands such as Li’l Pals, which is a product line designed for petite pets, including puppies and kittens. “It has been very successful for us because it is an entire line of products that has a specific market and is generally merchandised together, not in different areas of the store,” says Thomas, noting that Coastal celebrated the brand’s tenth year at Global Pet Expo 2015.
Lazer Brite reflective collars, harnesses and leashes represent another standout brand for Coastal. According to Jodi Paul, product development manager for Coastal Pet Products, the company is in the midst of refreshing this popular line to make it even more fashionable and functional for pet owners. “We’re freshening up the line with bright colors and more contemporary patterns that capitalize on the reflective technology through innovative design enhancements,” she says.
Coastal’s Pet Attire Pro line of leashes, collars and harnesses also reflects light and the fashion sensibilities of today’s pet owners. “It features soft webbing in bright, bold colors,” says Paul. “It is inspired by athletic footwear, so it’s a sporty, comfortable line with additional reflective stitching.”
A new addition to Coastal Pet Products’ offerings is the Best Fit Adjustable Mesh Muzzle, which Thomas says represents an improvement on what previously existed in this important safety category. “Previously, where it took 10 SKUs to cover all of different size ranges of pets, this line only needs half of that, because it is a lot more adjustable, not to mention comfortable for the pet,” she explains.
Also new from Coastal are several additions to the company’s licensed Harley-Davidson and Remington Outdoors lines. “Harley-Davidson has been really popular for us—we have an exclusive license with them. And Remington has been huge for sporting dogs and with pet owners who love the outdoor tradition.
In addition to a wide variety of items, Coastal’s Safari line also provides retailers with key marketing and educational resources for selling grooming products. “We have a lot of resources that make it easier for pet owners to choose just the right tool,” says Thomas. “We also have QR codes on all of the packaging, so people can link to very simple videos on how to use a product, such as a dematting tool.”
Moving forward, Coastal Pet Products expects to maintain its position as a category leader and resource for its customers, and continue building its product selection in a manner that is consistent with the way the company has grown so far over its 45-plus-year history. “It’s a matter of looking for the right opportunities for growth,” says Thomas.
And no matter how big the company gets, retailers can count on Coastal as a valuable partner in making the task of merchandising the pet store manageable. “We are experts in the industry,” says Angela Ramsay, merchandising coordinator. “People come to us not only for product knowledge, but also merchandising and retailing knowledge. We are experts at how to handle the large number of SKUs in the restraint category, in particular. For example, we ship all of our displays pre-hung with everything a retailer needs to make it work in the store. Dealing with such a SKU-intensive category can be scary; we make it easy.” PB