With palatability, cross-selling and domestic sourcing at the forefront of Emerald Pet’s vision, the company caters its products to be successful in a retail environment.
If only a fraction of pets are fawning over your company’s treats, then what’s the point? That’s the mindset held by Glenn Novotny, Jr., president and CEO of Emerald Pet Products—a treat-focused company based out of Walnut Creek, Calif.
Novotny’s father, Glenn Novotny, Sr., fully acquired Emerald Pet in January 2016 after founding it in 2009 alongside Michael Levy and Mark Witriol, owners of the Pet Food Express retail chain. Novotny Sr. resides as the company owner, while Novotny Jr. runs Emerald Pet’s day-to-day operations.
Growing up, Novotny Jr. dabbled in fishkeeping, keeping aquariums in junior high and high school. But when he moved to college, he purchased a black lab, which he owned for almost 17 years. “She was really my inspiration for getting into the dog and cat side of the business and trying to find better products for my own dog,” he says. “After getting out of college, I found the pet industry very fascinating and liked how it was a rewarding career in that you’re helping get pets the best possible nutrition and best possible life that you can.”
Since the acquisition, the company has redoubled its efforts to serve independent retailers, launching a variety of new products along the way. “We’ve really taken an increased focus on expanding our business in the independent pet channel by hiring two new salespeople—an east coast and west coast sales manager,” says Novotny.
From the beginning, Emerald Pet has concentrated on making treats that suit pets with allergies, meaning treats with limited ingredient formulas and free of common allergens.
“Something that comes up frequently within the pet specialty business is that animals have so many sensitivities to so many different ingredients and different protein sources,” Novotny says. “We really took a basic approach and looked at what the items are that animals are allergic to or not responding well to. We eliminated all of that out of the ingredient panels to really make treats that are formulated for cats and dogs that have allergen concerns and need limited ingredient diets.”
One example of this emphasis on allergen concerns is Emerald Pet’s newest product: Purely Prime Tender Turkey Bacon Strips and Sausage Slices, which contain over 90 percent U.S. turkey, plus are grain, gluten, dairy and soy free with no artificial ingredients, colors or flavors.
“These treats are meant to be a healthier version of the bacon that you would buy in the supermarket for yourself,” Novotny says. “The main difference is: On the dog side, we don’t need all the sugars, and we don’t need all the salt that humans like to eat.” Both the Turkey Bacon Strips and Turkey Sausage Slices are free of sugars and low in sodium.
In addition to these meaty treats, Emerald Pet also offers canine and feline dental treats, feline health treats for hairball and urinary tract control, canine chewy treats (Little Chewzzies), canine crunchy treats (Little Duckies) and lasting chews (Twizzies and Twizzies Bits).
With the leadership change, Emerald Pet honed in on palatability, making sure that every single pet will eat every single treat the company makes.
“Our palatability is really where we pride ourselves,” Novotny says. “Everything we do is all natural, all made in the USA with U.S. ingredients, but the real key is: You can make a great treat, but you have to make sure every pet eats it.”
Novotny says Emerald Pet often fields calls from customers saying their pets have stopped eating other treats in favor of Emerald Pet’s.
Beyond palatability, Emerald Pet stands out for its commitment to domestic sourcing and production. The company goes beyond just U.S.-sourced ingredients, sourcing all of its packaging, wire racking and display products domestically as well.
“We uphold the safety and the standards that we have in the U.S. to make sure that everything goes through a vetting process to test for all kinds of potential issues,” Novotny Jr. says.
One of Emerald Pet’s most popular offerings are its Twizzies all-natural lasting dog chews that come in three sizes and four flavors: Piggy (pork), Chicky (chicken), Turducky (turkey and duck) and Peanutty (peanut butter).
Expanding on this treat’s popularity, Emerald Pet made its first dive into the toy category with its Snug n’ Tug toy line. The Snug n’ Tug plush toy characters—Chicky, Piggy, Turducky and Peanutty—coincide with the treat characters from the Twizzies line, giving stores a unique opportunity to pair the products together.
“If a customer comes up to the counter with one of our toys, it’s an easy way for the store to engage with a customer and say, ‘Hey, did you know Emerald Pet also makes a treat that matches that toy?,’ or vice versa,” Novotny says. “The stores typically love the fact that there’s kind of a farm animal theme. It’s been a nice cross-selling opportunity for the stores.”
The Snug n’ Tug toys are made with a tough, durable liner and double stitching, plus crinkle paper throughout the toys and a squeaker or two. Mr. Peanutty even has cotton rope for arms and legs for tugging purposes.
“We wanted to make sure that whatever we did on the toy side, it was the top quality that we require on the treat side,” Novotny says.
In addition to offering retailers the chance to upsell with this character connection, Emerald Pet provides stores with ample point-of-purchase and training materials. For example, with its Fresh Smileezz dog dental chews, the company created and distributed postcards that store associates could put in their pockets and use to teach customers about the top three selling features of the Fresh Smileezz. Emerald Pet also offers three different point-of-purchase display racks for Twizzies and shippers to put in aisles that disrupt traffic flow and bring attention to new product launches.
“We also do in-field training and have all images available to retailers, so if they have an advertisement that’s going out; they can get an image of every single product that we have,” Novotny says.
So what’s on the horizon for an expanding company with lots of potential?
“We’re always looking for the latest and greatest on the innovation side, so we constantly have a pipeline where we focus on new product launches at Global Pet Expo and at SuperZoo,” Novotny says. “We’re looking to improve upon categories that already exist or create something entirely different.” PB