Amber McCrocklin, president of Paws Aboard, recounts the company's auspicious beginnings and discusses its growing product portfolio.
Pet Business: Paws Aboard started with the development of the Doggy Boat Ladder, and has since grown to include a much broader portfolio of products. How has the company evolved over the years? What inspired the company to take the direction it did?
Amber McCrocklin: Paws Aboard was created in 2003 because I had trouble getting my 90-lb., wet Labrador Bo back in the boat and decided to create a solution by inventing the easy-to-use Doggy Boat Ladder. After that, I started seeing pet products and wanted to make them better and more unique. I took the existing pet life jackets and made them more comfortable, safer, and more fashionable. We started creating water-safe pet toys, and soon, we had an entire pet friendly water-safe product line that was fun and interactive.
Paws Aboard continues to succeed because we provide solutions to problems that all dog owners have. Owning three dogs ranging from five to 90 lbs., it’s fun for me to take a problem and create a solution to share with our customers. All of our employees are encouraged to bring their dogs to the paw-ffice, and this is the driving inspiration behind our unique product research and development. Paws Aboard as a company exists because of our passion for dogs, our innovation and our love of having fun. We want to continue to promote an active lifestyle with our customers and their pets.
PB: What are some of Paws Aboard’s latest product introductions, and what distinguishes your company and its products from others in the pet industry?
McCrocklin: Paws Aboard has seen the need to walk multiple dogs at once. Anyone who owns two dogs knows all about the ‘leash dance’ and how discouraging it can be to walk two dogs on two different leashes. This is why I created the Freedom Leash. It is specifically designed to walk two dogs on one retractable lead. It spins to prevent tangles, the 10-ft. cords provide flawless operation, and your one free hand gives you the freedom to do other things or acts as a safety precaution in case of an emergency. Two dogs, one leash, zero tangles.
Paws Aboard’s creation of the Freedom Leash launched us to new heights by providing a solution to the leash dance, and our customers love it. We have also just created and launched our new Monster Walker No Pull Leash, which is ideal for dogs that really pull. This innovative leash puts safe pressure on the dog’s belly instead of the neck when they pull, creating an unusual sensation—literally stopping them in their tracks.
PB: Paws Aboard makes products in some niche pet categories, such as water safety products and water toys. How has this market fared lately? Are people continuing to travel and vacation with their pets?
McCrocklin: We have seen the pet industry continue to grow every year, and that includes our niche market of water products and specialty items. People still need solutions for their water, travel and on-the-go problems, and we’re there to solve them.
PB: What is Paws Aboard’s approach to working with independent pet specialty retailers, and what type of support do you offer retail partners?
McCrocklin: While Paws Aboard continues to support our large distributors, we are still focused on supporting our retail stores. Customer service is important to us, and we strive to be a leading provider of not only pet products but a great customer experience. We are always available to discuss products, pricing, provide marketing materials, and of course, share fun pet stories.
PB: What else should retailers know about the company and the products it offers?
McCrocklin: Retailers should know that if they cannot stock their store with products from our distributors, we are happy to work with them directly. We can also provide creative marketing ideas, and product photos and videos.
PB: What can we expect to see from the company in the coming years?
McCrocklin: You can expect to see new and innovative products added to our line throughout the years. We are constantly working to create products that provide solutions to everyday problems. Paws Aboard will continue to promote an active lifestyle and healthy living with our products and keep our customers happy—and our dogs happy too.