PET BUSINESS: When was Hi-Tek Rations founded? What was the impetus behind the creation of the company?
LEONARD POWELL: I started Hi-Tek Rations in 1988. I’ve enjoyed a long career in animal nutrition—first with Purina and later with Moorman’s— throughout which I have been committed to producing outstanding nutritional products for a variety of species, including swine and ruminant animals, as well as family pets including dogs, cats and horses.
PB: How has the company evolved since it first started?
POWELL: Changes in the farm economy combined with continued growth in the pet sector led to an exclusive focus on dog and cat foods soon after the company was founded. Five years ago, the company committed itself to the production of super-premium and holistic products, resulting in the introduction of Perfectly Natural Dog, Hi-Tek Naturals and Hi-Tek Naturals Grain Free. Hi-Tek purchased the company that manufactured LIFE4K9, a baked, holistic diet, in 2010. A sophisticated baking line was constructed in 2012, allowing the company to manufacture not only the kibble for this product but baked treats as well.
The company’s commitment to food safety and product integrity resulted in the initiation of a series of audits by the American Baking Institute. Hi-Tek routinely undergoes these voluntary, independent examinations as part of its dedication to safe, wholesome nutritional products.
PB: What makes Hi-Tek Rations diets stand out from the competition?
POWELL: Besides the obvious advantages of a commitment to safety, including an in-house laboratory that performs a number of clinical tests on both incoming ingredients and finished product, there are significant differences between Hi-Tek products and many others in the marketplace today.
One of the first things new customers notice about all of the Hi-Tek premium products is their palatability. We know of no other foods that are as attractive to the olfactory system of dogs and cats than those manufactured by Hi-Tek. This is due to proprietary cooking methods that leave the long chains of amino acids intact.
Not only do Hi-Tek foods feed well, they offer an exceptional blend of proteins, fats and carbohydrates that offer balanced nutrition and contribute to the luxurious coats, bright eyes, compact stools, and overall bloom of superior nutritional health. Dog and cat foods from Hi-Tek feature omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and both pre- and probiotics for excellent digestive health.
PB: What is the key to success for independent pet retailers in the nutrition category?
POWELL: In addition to offering their customers superior nutrition, it is more important than ever that independent pet retailers in the nutrition category be focused on margin. The financial pressure on independent pet retailers has never been greater with competition from big-box stores, large hardware and farm store chains, and the grocery segment. That’s why Hi-Tek has become so popular among the independents—its products can sell competitively and deliver up to 20 percent greater margins than highly advertised products that claim to be super premium. Hi-Tek delivers the nutritional goods but doesn’t forget that the pet retailer must make money if he or she is to stay in business.
PB: What does the future hold for Hi-Tek Rations?
POWELL: Hi-Tek Rations has a bright future. Now distributed in 48 states and more than a dozen foreign countries, Hi-Tek will continue to grow as it gains greater distribution. With growth will come greater awareness of Hi-Tek and its products, and the profound advantages it offers to retailers. New formulas, new SKUs and more responses to the needs of our consumer base will see a significantly expanded Hi-Tek in the months and years to come.