Leading the Future

The Pet Leadership Council is playing a vital role in propelling the pet industry forward on a number of fronts.




In any successful business venture, you need a strong leader. That is a must for success to be sustainable. But, as we all know, that is not enough. A solid support staff is the true measure of just how successful that organization will be. That staff must cover a wide array of skills in order to be prepared to recognize opportunity, avoid missteps and be prepared to position the team to take full advantage at every crossroad.

When you are building a company, the skills needed are fairly defined—accounting, sales and marketing, manufacturing, research and development and the like. Each plays a key role in making things happen to the benefit of the company and the team.

Now take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Virtually any company in business has to exist in a given industry—whether it is plastics, healthcare, aviation or even pets. The health of the industry itself plays a critical role in defining the limits of success that any participant within the industry can reasonably expect.

The pet industry is a great example. Right now, thanks to many influences, it is one of the most stable, growing industries in the U.S. economy. High-quality and caring manufacturers, distributors and retailers are a big part of that success, as are the veterinarians that provide care for pets, the conscientious animal groups and organizations that promote positive human-animal relationships, and the responsible, dedicated providers of animals such as breeders, shelters and rescues. They are all working individually to keep the industry collectively flourishing.

As with any thriving industry, some type of coordinating oversight helps propel things to the next level of success. Pooling resources, where appropriate, not only helps streamline efforts, but also presents a more consistent message for the industry. This synchronization saves time, effort and money, minimizes duplication and builds upon individual companies and efforts.

We have seen other industries rally to form these types of coalitions in response to severe outside challenges. The American Plastics Council was formed to combat a declining plastics industry. The “Got Milk” marketing campaign grew from the challenge of declining milk sales. And there are others—many of which were born after a clear and present danger to the industry was experienced.  In every case, the cost has been extremely high.

We are different in that we have come together even without a visible threat. For example, a strong, diverse group of organizations came together to study and promote the human health benefits derived from having a companion animal.  This group formed the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) more than seven years ago. What started as a core group of manufacturers, distributors and retailers has grown and expanded to include veterinarians, hospitals, other non-profits and almost every segment of the pet industry.
What makes this effort unique is that it did not take a downturn in the marketplace to come to fruition. These visionary companies and organizations took the initiative to pool resources not only for the good of the industry, but to educate others on the many proven health benefits of companion animals. And they continue to support the academics conducting these important studies.

To date, we are even successfully reaching out to and working with human health companies and developing partnerships that expand HABRI’s impact. It is an impactful effort supported by many talented individuals, companies and institutions, and we should all be proud of it. HABRI is doing good work on very important levels for so much more than just the pet industry.

HABRI is an incredible success story and shows we can be smart and take advantage of our ability to work together for the overall benefit of the industry. It is that kind of cooperation and coalition-building that will ensure the continuation of a strong marketplace. We need to build upon this effort along with the many noble initiatives of members of the industry—the American Pet Products Association’s Pets Add Life campaign, the Pet Industry Distributor Association’s Pet Store Pro program, the World Pet Association’s consumer programs, Zoetis’ the Pet Effect, the outreach of groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Humane Association, PetSmart Charities, the Petco Foundation and so many more. Each of these plays an important role in the overall success of our industry.



As we begin this new year, it is critical that we continue to support the coalition that is in place to pool these incredible resources and support the industry—The Pet Leadership Council. In this past year, The Pet Leadership Council has tackled important issues such as dog breeding standards, the availability of shelter dogs, responsible fish keeping and environmental stewardship, and streamlining the process of providing aid to pets during natural disasters.
In the upcoming year, we have many exciting initiatives already on the agenda, including improving the availability of and access to pet-friendly housing. I invite you to join the Pet Leadership Council and be a part of helping the pet industry reach its full, amazing potential. Happy New Year! PB


Bob Vetere is the president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association and chairman of the Pet Leadership Council.


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