View from the Top
By Cathy Calliotte
The second annual Top2Top Conference will feature a variety of speakers that will discuss the current state of the pet care industry, as well as future challenges and opportunities.

The second-annual Pet Industry’s Top2Top Conference is scheduled to be held at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif., on April 23-25, 2013. The conference will address the issues currently facing leaders in the pet industry. With meaningful sessions that focus on the state of the industry, demographic shifts that will change the industry, upcoming legislative action that affects your business, and exciting networking events, this is a must-attend event for all industry leaders.

“This conference is very important to the future of the pet industry,” says Bob Shipley, president and CEO of Hartz Mountain Corporation.

The following speakers have been announced for the 2013 conference:

Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), will present the results of the AVMA Pet Demographic Study. The results serve as a valuable resource to help measure and track trends in pet ownership, population and veterinary expenditures. AVMA has conducted this study every five years since 1983, providing important trends for nearly 30 years. This study is cited by many organizations including the U.S. Census Bureau.

Michael Johnson, vice president of marketing and information for Chuck Latham Associates, will present future trends in the pet industry, including shifts in demographics, lifestyles, economics and technology. These shifts shape our world and fundamentally change the marketplace of tomorrow. Illustrating how these trends affect the pet industry, Johnson will share ways to best prepare for these new opportunities.

Based on attendee feedback, three new components have been added for 2013:

Table Topic Discussions—Attendees will have the opportunity to propose topics for roundtable discussions. Sign up to attend the topic that resonates most with you and your business.

Closing Session—This open-format session allows attendees to discuss the sessions, develop initiatives and a plan for moving the industry forward.

PIJAC Presentation—How do potential pet shortages impact your business? Do increased licensing regulations impede pet ownership? What effect will regulation of exotics have on your business? This session answers these questions, and more, about legislation and your business.

Networking events at the Top2Top Conference provide ample opportunities for industry leaders to meet and discuss what our industry needs to do to move forward together. The Welcome Blues Jam kicks off the conference on Tuesday night. Join us for the industry golf tournament on Wednesday afternoon.

Don’t play golf? Put your athletic skills to use in the highly-competitive bowling tournament instead! After a full day of sessions on Thursday, relax with colleagues at the Wine Tasting in the Meritage wine cave. 

The conference has been moved to a Tuesday-through-Thursday format, making it more convenient to travel home from the West Coast on Friday morning. Stay tuned for additional session information coming soon.

Building on Past Success
The first annual Pet Industry’s Top2Top Conference received rave reviews from attendees. “It’s one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended,” says, Lisa Alley-Zarkades, vice president of animal wellness for E.T. Horn. “It was good for our business and good for the industry,” she added.

Of note were the outstanding speakers, the networking functions, and the overall benefits achieved for individual companies and the industry as a whole. With more than 75 percent of survey respondents saying the sessions and networking events will help their businesses in the future, and 85 percent saying they found the conference worthwhile, the Pet Industry’s Top2Top Conference is a must-attend event for all industry leaders. 

Jeff Sutherland, president of Animal Supply Company sums it up by saying, “The conference was a great, uniting event for the pet industry…I’m looking forward to next year.”

Cathy Calliotte is vice president of marketing and communications for the Washington, D.C.–based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. PIJAC provides its members a voice in state and national legislative issues through advocacy and timely information regarding upcoming policy issues that affect the pet industry, pet owners and the animals they care for.