Bob Vetere Discusses His Retirement from APPA

The president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association reflects on his time in the pet industry and lays out his expectations for the future.


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As I am sure most of you have heard by now, I have announced that I will be retiring from my position as president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA) after the 2019 Global Pet Expo. To say this has been one of the hardest decisions of my working life would be a huge understatement. Almost 16 years ago, I was the longshot candidate for a job that was very different than all of my previous experience. At that point, APPA (then called the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association) was willing to gamble on giving me a chance, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

 

The pet industry has proven to be dramatically different than any other I have ever worked in. Unlike in my past profession, making anti-freeze and plastic bags and car wax, people in our industry are absolutely committed to our ultimate consumers—pets. That kind of emotional commitment is contagious.

 

Walking Global Pet Expo—or any of the other shows—is an uplifting (although exhausting) journey among friends. Sure, there is competition, like in any industry, but the common goal of healthy, happy pets is a shared target.

 

I have been fortunate throughout my career to have board members who are not only supportive of me, but also willing to leave their day jobs behind and make decisions in the best interest of the industry as a whole. They have allowed me to reach out beyond just APPA to try to forge the kind of alliances that make the overall pet industry even stronger.

 

Even more important than board support is the unbelievable staff I have been blessed with. So many of them have been with me almost my entire career with APPA. They are a loyal, strong team focused on making things great for our members. And, they make work a pleasure for me every day.

 

The one person most responsible for helping me keep all of this together while I go prospecting around for new initiatives is APPA executive vice president and COO Andy Darmohraj. I can safely say that without him, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the coalition building that I have achieved. His solid leadership has helped make APPA and Global Pet Expo the amazing successes that they are.

 

Of all of the initiatives I have helped with or worked on developing, like the Pets Add Life (PAL) program (with the help of the great support team at Impetus), the Pet Leadership Council, the Bird Enjoyment and Advancement Koalition (BEAK) and the Pet Care Trust, there is one that I am most proud of—the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). Started almost nine years ago, it has evolved into a powerful, respected group effort that has strengthened the scientific position of pets as a positive force in human health. Meeting first with Dr. Alan Beck of Purdue University, and then developing an outreach to both Petco and Zoetis (then Pfizer) started what has become a model program uniting manufacturers, distributors, retailers, other associations and veterinarians along with many other key pieces of the pet industry. It is a template for how we all can play nice together for the greater good. Thanks to executive director Steve Feldman and the HABRI members, it will continue to be a benchmark for our industry.

 

Now, as I move on, I know that I am leaving all of this in the good hands of Steve King. From nearly the beginning of my time in the pet industry, Steve and I have worked together on so many initiatives beyond the partnership of APPA and the Pet Industry Distributors Association. With the help of Andy and the remarkable APPA staff, this transition should be very successful.

 

Finally, I want to thank every one of you who has worked with me, made me feel comfortable in doing everything I have accomplished and have truly become friends. I will miss you all. It has been a great ride! 

 

 

Bob Vetere is president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and chairman of the Pet Leadership Council. Do you have questions about how to get involved? Contact Vetere (bvetere@americanpetproducts.org) or other members of the Pet Leadership Council, or visit petleadershipcouncil.org.

 

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