A Handcrafted Success Story

Steve Cady, vice president of sales for Mendota Pet, discusses how the company has evolved from a small garage-based business into a multi-dimensional powerhouse pet brand.




Pet Business: Tell us about Mendota Products’ 23-year history in the pet industry. How has the company evolved over that time? What has set you apart from other manufacturers in the industry? 

Steve Cady: With hard work and a 24/7 entrepreneurial spirit, Mendota was created by a man who had a vision and—most importantly—room in his garage. Doug Lassey started Mendota Products back in 1994 with a few handmade slip leads, which he brought to a few consumer shows. Since that time, we have expanded to offer more than 1,200 mostly handmade items and our products can be found in many retail outlets around the world. During this journey, we have purchased three other pet product manufacturers, allowing us to offer a plethora of pet products to our customers.


Our high quality, made in USA philosophy sets us apart from most of our competitors. So do our dedicated and loyal employees. Their hard work and can-do attitude is largely what has enabled us to be successful. 



PB: Mendota Products recently announced that it is bringing all of the company’s individual products under the Mendota Pet umbrella brand. What inspired this rebranding strategy? What does it entail? 

Cady: Because of the different brand names we support, we found it necessary to rebrand under one brand name. This allows us to focus our efforts on a single brand name and provide our dealers with a single name for easier identification and marketing of all of our products. It also conveys what business we are in—the pet business—unlike the old names.


PB: What are some of the latest innovations from Mendota Products? What are the key features of these products?

Cady: We continue to look for made in USA products that will fit within our supported categories of sporting, show and companion pet. If the fit is right, we will work to bring them into our family. We recently introduced a swivel slip lead and a new line of products for petite dogs, all from suggestions from our customers. These products filled an open niche we had in our product assortment.


PB: Aside from producing high-quality products, how does Mendota Products help pet stores to be successful? What types of sales and marketing support can retailers expect from the company?

Cady: We partner with our dealers with the goal of success in retailing our products. To help with this, we offer the following:

1. Initial stock order specials.

2. On-site manufacturing that allows fast and complete shipping.

3. A lifetime replacement guarantee.

4. The ability to customize products.

5. Easy online, fax, email or telephone order placement.

6. A drop-ship program to help new start-up companies.

7. No minimum order.

8. MAP pricing to help insure an even playing field.

9. Waterfall racks with header cards to help display our products.

10. A higher advertising emphasis on brand recognition.


PB: What does the future hold for Mendota Products? Do you have any exciting products introductions in the pipeline? 

Cady: Going forward, we will continue to offer high-quality, made-in-USA products for the discriminating dog owner. We will continue to look for strategic partners and products to offer to our dealers.


For new products in the future, we look to our dealers and end users to give us ideas. Our new small pet and small pet show lines are great examples of this. Another idea we are implementing this spring is a longer snap leash in all of our 41 colors! In the future, we would love to bring a small harness to market and dare we say, maybe cat products? Time will tell.  PB


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