Breaking Barriers

Farnam has come a long way from the street in Omaha, Neb. that it was named after.


In 1946, Mort Duff opened a mail-order business servicing the livestock and equipment markets. He named it Farnam, after Farnam Street in Omaha, Neb. The company has come a long way since then.

After several successful years in business, the company left the street that it was named after and moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where it is still based today. Farnam incorporated in 1955, but continued to sell primarily farming equipment and livestock products until 1964, when Mort Duff passed away and his son, Chuck Duff, took over the family business; The younger Duff was only 21 years old, but he quickly saw a multitude of new opportunities for the company.

First, Farnam began selling products exclusively through distributors. This was followed by the decision to add horse care products to the line. Then Duff noticed that many of the horse owners and farmers buying the company’s products also had dogs and cats. This inspired an expansion of Farnam’s product offering to include pet care products.
In 1977, Chuck Duff officially launched a de-worming product for dogs called Tasty Paste, which is still sold under the D-Worm brand name. Over the years, the number of pet products the company offered continued to increase, resulting in the creation of a separate division to focus solely on companion animals. The company also saw a need for and developed another division, called VPL or Veterinary Products Laboratory, which develops products for the veterinary market.

Chuck Duff sold the company in 2006 to Central Garden & Pet, which renamed it “Central Life Sciences” and continues to build the company and expand into new markets.

Distinct Difference
One of the things that made Farnam products distinctive was the company’s dedication to offering products that were unique. According to Kim Nguyen, vice president of marketing at Central Life Sciences, Farnam prided itself on offering top quality products in highly regulated categories. Central Life Sciences continues that legacy by leveraging its in-depth knowledge and extensive research and development facilities to offer products in those markets, despite high barriers to entry.

Central Life Sciences has a high-tech, state-of-the-art research and development facility, where Nguyen says scientists are constantly working to improve current products and develop new ones. It also works with multiple regulatory bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) to ensure that its products are the safest and highest quality possible.

Nguyen says the main secret to the company’s success has been its focus on understanding the relationships that exist between pets and pet owners. She says that it’s important to understand what the pet owners’ priorities are and to make sure the company’s products meet those needs.

New Developments
Today, Central Life Sciences offers products across a multitude of categories including dogs, cats and horses. Its pet product offerings include the well-known Adams, Bio Spot and Comfort Zone brands.

Among the new products the company has released this year are its D-Worm Combo Broad Spectrum De-Wormer–over-the-counter chewable pork-liver flavored tablets that kill and prevent seven strains of worms commonly found in dogs’ small intestines– and its Shed Solution Skin & Coat Supplement, which comes in three formulas and is designed to manage shedding in dogs.

Looking forward, Nguyen says the company is paying special attention to recent market trends. “We continue to see that overall health care is a big category,” she says.

Consumers continue to see their own needs reflected in their pets, and as a result, aging baby boomers who have begun to realize the power of supplements in providing a better quality of life for themselves can see the same benefit in giving supplements to their pets.

These trends in pet wellness are ones that Central Life Sciences hopes to capitalize on over the next year or two. “We’ve done a lot of studies where we’ve gone into the consumer’s home and looked at how they live. We’ve been able to segment the demographic, the type of pets that they own and what products they currently use,” Nguyen says.

The supplements category is one segment in which the company is considering creating new products. According to Nguyen, some pet owners are still supplementing their pets’ diets with human supplements, which is dangerous since animals have different dietary needs than people. Central Life Sciences feels this is a category where their experience in educating pet owners and creating products that customers trust can offer significant advantages.

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