United We Stand
Next month’s first-ever Pet Industry Leadership Conference will bring together all of the industry’s stakeholders to address the critical issues facing us all.
When I first arrived at the American Pet Products Association (APPA) in late 2002, I had the opportunity to come in as the new guy in town with no real preconceptions about the industry. When I met with a lot of the folks involved (both veterans and relative newbies), a theme that quickly became repetitious was that we have too many of everything—too many trade shows, too many associations, too many conferences, and so on. There were just too many things to get involved with in this industry and very little unification.
Soon after I started, APPA joined forces with the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) to merge our trade shows into Global Pet Expo, combining the strengths of each into a show that has far exceeded expectations. It was a big step in that it took one show—and one extra trip—off of the industry schedule and resulted in a much larger, more encompassing representation of the pet product industry.
Of course, the message that less is more may be somewhat surprising coming from someone who has helped to create more associations in this industry—the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) and the Pet Leadership Council (PLC). However, the important thing to understand is that both of those associations have filled gaps that needed to be filled by giving the industry, as a whole, a strong voice with solid data to back promoting pet ownership.
We are only just beginning, but both HABRI and PLC are already making a difference. They are putting the industry in the proactive position it needs to be in, rather than always just reacting to negative claims against us. Stay tuned for more to come on that front.
A Watershed Event
While back in 2002, PIDA was the only organization that held an annual management conference, it wasn’t long before both the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and APPA contemplated adding similar events. A few years later, APPA deferred to PIJAC and helped underwrite the industry’s first Top2Top Conference. Once that was in place, APPA again looked to develop its own management conference. It was at that point that representatives from APPA, PIDA and PIJAC got together and discussed the pros and cons of partnering on a larger, more comprehensive conference.
Later this month, you will see the fruits of those discussions—the first Pet Industry Leadership Conference. This conference will combine world-class speakers who challenge conventional thinking and breakout sessions that explore best practices and emerging trends. Of course, there will also be traditional executive conferences that bring trading partners together for productive one-on-one sessions.
An industry the size of ours has a world of outside suppliers for everything from cartons and cases, shipping, importing/exporting and marketing to insurance needs, investments and much more. Many of these suppliers are looking for ways to help companies in the pet industry, but they really have had no logical way to reach their target audience. Both Global Pet Expo and Super Zoo are so focused on selling that there is no time for suppliers to get quality time with the key decision makers they need. This new conference will help answer that need by featuring supplier tabletop exhibits. This part of the conference will give those key decision makers access to the suppliers that can help optimize operations and save money.
This first Pet Industry Leadership Conference will bring all of the pet industry’s stakeholders—manufacturers, distributors, livestock breeders, wholesalers and retailers—together to address the critical issues facing everyone’s business. It is a much-needed event that will make an important positive difference for the industry.
I look forward to seeing everyone there Jan. 18-21 at the lovely Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Ariz.
Bob Vetere is president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association. APPA is one of the organizers of Global Pet Expo (March 16-18, in Orlando, Fla.), the largest annual pet industry trade show in the world.