But then folks had been instantly spending extra time at residence, locked inside with their pets. People who’d by no means owned pets earlier than began adopting them in droves.
West Paw’s gross sales in latest months have responded accordingly. From May via September, they had been up 55% from the identical interval final 12 months. One of the bestsellers has been the Toppl — a bowl-shaped, treat-dispensing puzzle toy — which has seen its year-to-date gross sales leap 160%, Williams stated, noting the puzzle toy class has grown about 125% year-to-date.
“It has just been staggering how quickly people have pivoted to find ways to keep their dogs engaged and mentally stimulated,” he stated.
In response to the boosts in enterprise, the 24-year-old Bozeman, Montana firm which makes chew, play and puzzle toys and different canine merchandise.added 19 workers, bumping up its workforce to about 80 folks. The firm additionally craned in a 12-ton, 30-foot-long injection molding machine used to make the sturdy, flexible and recyclable Zogoflex toys for which West Paw is understood. As a privately held agency, West Paw does not disclose its full monetary knowledge, however Williams stated gross sales had been above $10 million in 2019.
Navigating tough waters
The present scenario and the stark gross sales spikes are a welcome change from the early weeks of the pandemic. In March and April, the scenario appeared bleak.
“March slowed down, and in April, suddenly it was like 40% of our sales just stopped,” Williams stated. “And we thought, ‘How steep is this ride going to be?'”
As worry began to set in, West Paw launched into an effort to stabilize its enterprise.
The firm pushed pause on spending $400,000 to extend its manufacturing capability to shore up its money reserves and defend the roles of its 60-person workforce. When gross sales slowed, West Paw used its supplies and sources to supply masks for the native hospital system after which for retail sale.
At the identical time, the corporate went via with launching a brand new product line — a choice of freeze-dried uncooked meat bits and squeezable, creamy treats. West Paw had spent the previous two years investing in and constructing a sustainable provide chain for the merchandise, Williams stated.
“We knew that our retailers would need something new to talk about,” he stated. “That innovation helped people really get excited about a new product at a time when we all needed to be excited about something.”
Then in May, Williams observed some extra exercise at retailers: Their orders to West Paw had been getting larger and greater.
“Thankfully, the pet business came roaring back,” he stated.
“We saw this during 9/11, whenever there’s unrest, people tend to nest at home,” Chris Rowland, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus, which operates 509 shops in 34 states. “When they want to make their house feel even more like home, they get more pets and pamper them more.”
The will increase in new pet households has had a cloth impact on West Paw’s enterprise, Williams stated. In response to retailers’ requests, his agency partnered with three different pet provides manufacturers to supply “New Pet Parent Packs.” West Paw additionally has seen a noticeable improve of first-time pet homeowners ordering instantly from its web site, he stated.
“This trend of more pets in the home, spending more time with pets, taking better care of them is going to continue for a long time,” he stated. “I think the pet space in particular is going to see years of significant growth that started around the [Covid-19 pandemic time].”