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LIVING WITH PETS (Ark Blog)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feature in the June Issue of Pet Product News International's NATURAL PET PRODUCT MERCHANDISER, Pet Industry Dialogue - A Natural Pledge with Susan Weiss of Ark Naturals.

Susan Weiss of Ark Naturals Products for Pets talks about her drive to produce all-natural health and wellness products.

by Marissa Heflin

Husband and wife team Susan and Jay Weiss founded Ark Naturals Products for Pets in 1996 as a way to answer the call for all-natural health and wellness products for companion animals. The launch, long before it was trendy to be “green” and “holistic,” according to Susan, was inspired when their standard poodle, Jordan, succumbed to cancer at 10 years of age. Jordan was raised with supermarket pet foods, low-quality treats and lots of shots and vaccines, Susan said. As they were already involved in the natural product business for humans, this experience opened their eyes to the benefits of natural pet health products, she said. Their Naples, Fla., company offers a full line of pet dental products, joint health and support supplements, probiotics, grooming aids, natural flea and tick alternatives, functional training products, wellness vitamins and antioxidants, and remedy products for eye, ear and digestive care for dogs and cats. Natural Pet Product Merchandiser spoke with Susan about the company’s role in the natural pet product market, how she has seen the industry grow, and her plans for the future.

NPPM: Ark Naturals pledges “to continue our efforts to not only produce the leading line of pet care nutraceuticals, but also to be aware that the pursuit of scientific data regarding preventive health care is a continuing process.” Can you elaborate?

SW: We used to believe that garlic in pet products would keep dogs and cats healthy. We know today that it can’t hurt the animals but it has no health benefit. We used to believe that pet foods with wheat and corn were OK. Today we know better. Science is ever-evolving.

NPPM: All of Ark Naturals’ products are “100 percent Made in the USA.” Why is this important to you? Is this something you find pet owners are seeking?

SW: When we started this business— up until the past five years or so—retailers and consumers did not give a rat’s a**. When I would point out that our products were “Made in the USA,” I was told that meant “more expensive.” No one wants or cares to spend more money. It was a very hard sell. From a historical time line, when we started Ark in 1996, part of our mission statement was to produce the finest-quality products for animals using top-quality U.S. Food and Drug Administration over-the-counter facilities and/or United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service facilities. As I said before, it was one giant yawn to retailers and consumers. Unfortunately, a lot of animals had to get sick and die for pet parents to care. [Weiss is referring to the mass pet food recalls that began in March 2007. Pet food manufacturers recalled more than 150 brands of dog and cat food nationwide after pets that ate the tainted food began experiencing health problems. Thousands of cats and dogs reportedly died as a result.] However, some of our competitors have found a way to beat the system. They buy chicken, meats and raw materials from China and have it shipped here. Per labeling laws—if the product is bagged, bottled and packed in the USA—they can claim the product is “Made in the USA.”

NPPM: How does Ark Naturals try to differentiate itself from its competitors?

SW: We consider ourselves the education company. I’m not afraid of answering hard questions, even if it is not beneficial to Ark Naturals. Additionally, when we get a call from a consumer about a pet that is taking a prescription and they want to know if they can use one of our products, we ask them to do nothing until we speak to our vet and get clarification. We’d rather not sell a product than make a mistake.

NPPM: How specifically does Ark Naturals educate consumers?

SW: Our first step is to educate retailers and distributor reps. Again, in 1996, this was an uphill battle. We were asking retailers to step outside their comfort zone, to add natural products to their shelves. We used everything that was available to us at the time—sales meetings, store visits—we had a training book that had so much information that the retailers were yawning before they got to page two. Today, among Facebook, Twitter, websites and retailers being sure of themselves, it is much easier. We also employ seminars and teleconferences, [distribute] samples and make personal appearances.

NPPM: Ark Naturals recently introduced Gray Muzzle, a company dedicated to keeping older dogs healthy. What was the motivation behind making natural products just for senior dogs? What would you like our readers to know about the company?

SW: Gray Muzzle was introduced about 15 months ago [in early 2013]. Because of all the wonderful humans in the pet community, and companies that have made it their mission to produce products with the most beneficial ingredients, dogs and cats are living way past the life expectancy chart. In some cases, it’s blown the charts away. That’s another example of being willing to pay attention to better scientific data and responding appropriately. So we now have this population of aging animals that are still able to be happy, play and bond with their humans [but have a number of health issues such as] joint problems and memory issues. Heart health [is another issue]. Our goal is to help humanshelp their animals maximize the next stage of their lives.

NPPM: Any other new products and/or upcoming launches you can tell us about?

SW: We’ll release new products in July at SuperZoo.

NPPM: Part of Ark Naturals’ mission statement is about being involved with charitable organizations that help animals. Can you share a couple of examples?

SW: We are major supporters of the Brody Project for Animal Assisted Therapy Inc., which benefits animal-related programs. We also stepped up and paid for life-saving heart surgery for Peanut, a 4-month-old Chihuahua mix dog that arrived at The Humane Society Naples. During his veterinary exam, it was discovered that the dog exhibited a loud heart murmur. [Upon further examination], the dog was determined to be at risk for heart failure or even a sudden death. However, balloon valvuloplasty was an option if the needed funds to pay for the procedure could be found.  He underwent a very successful surgery and initial recovery, and volunteers and staff at The Humane Society Naples are helping to continue his care until he will be adopted.

NPPM: Where do you see yourself and/or Ark Naturals in 10 years?

SW: For me, Ark Naturals is the best work I’ve ever done. It was the hardest but the most rewarding. Being the first in anything is ridiculously hard to get consumers and retailers to buy into. And it’s always easier to copy an idea than to create something original. We pride ourselves on our originality, and our ability to hang in there when others think you are batty! I have a very Buddhist philosophy— I try very hard to live in the present. If you plan your life looking ahead, you miss the present. 

 

article via - Pet Product News International

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Friday, April 4, 2014

 

Dog Rescued by The Humane Society Naples Benefits

from Generosity of Local Pet Business

Ark Naturals steps up to pay for life-saving heart surgery for "Peanut"

 

Naples, FL - When Peanut, a four month-old Chihuahua mix dog arrived at The Humane Society Naples, he was just like any other of the thousands of pets the no-kill shelter rescues each year. During his veterinary exam, it was discovered that the dog exhibited a loud heart murmur.  Fearing the worst, Dr. Rob Fox, Medical Director at the Humane Society, ordered an echocardiogram of the dog in order to make a complete diagnosis.

Upon consultation with specialists and review of the diagnosis, it was determined that Peanut's long-term prognosis was poor. The dog was determined to be at risk for heart failure or even a sudden death. However, balloon valvuloplasty (an expensive heart surgery) was an option if the needed funds to pay for the procedure could be found. 

The Humane Society Naples contacted veterinary professionals at Specialized Veterinary Services and arranged for a discounted surgery fee for Peanut.  At that same time, the shelter reached out to Ark Naturals, a Naples-based leading manufacturer of health, remedy and lifestyle solutions for pets. The company has been a supporter of the no-kill shelter for many years.

Susan and Jay Weiss, owners of Ark Naturals, had just recently lost their own precious pooch named "Lily Perez." The Havanese was a special needs rescue herself, and the Weiss Family was still in grief over the loss of their beloved pet. It was when they learned that they could help another rescued pet overcome its own special need they made the generous offer to pay the cost of the surgery for Peanut.

He underwent a very successful surgery and initial recovery, and volunteers and staff at The Humane Society Naples are helping to continue his care until he will be adopted by a forever family. The dog is currently meeting many potential adopting families at the HSN Satellite Adoption Center at the Coastland Center Mall.

The shelter is currently accepting donations to help continue to provide veterinary care for other rescued pets that require significant veterinary care before adoption to the general public.  To donate, please contact Andy Reed, Director of Development at (239) 643-1555 Ext. 21 or visit www.hsnaples.org. 

 

Peanut now awaits his forver home.

 

Organized in 1960, The Humane Society Naples is a private local non-profit animal welfare organization. Its mission is to provide animals shelter in times of need, locate lifelong homes and promote responsible pet ownership through education, legislation and sterilization. Located at 370 Airport-Pulling Road in Naples, The Humane Society's Adoption Center hours are: Tuesday and Thursday 11am to 7pm and Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm. A Satellite Adoption Site located at the Coastland Center Mall in Naples is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 9pm and Sunday from noon until 6pm. For additional information, visit The Humane Society Naples online at www.HSNaples.org or call (239) 643-1555.

 

ABOUT ARK NATURALS

Ark Naturals Products for Pets was incorporated in Florida in 1996. Ark Naturals® is dedicated to provide pet guardians with natural options, and an opportunity to be proactive when caring for their pets.  All Ark® products are premium and of course human grade. Part of our mission is to educate the consumer. Ark ® provides pet owners with scientific information that is clear and easy to understand. Our belief is that pet owners will choose natural alternatives when they understand the choice between natural and chemically adulterated products. Our goal is to not only develop products that allow our family of pets to enjoy a better quality of life, but also to allow their owners to rest assured that they have cared for their pets in the best possible way. For a list of our products please visit: www.arknaturals.com

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If you've had the chance to pick up the September 2013 Issue of Pet Age Magazine you'll notice Ark Naturals and Gray Muzzle featured! Pet Age recently sat down with Susan Weiss, Owner/President of Ark Naturals, about her passion for the natural products industry, why it’s become so popular and her advice for others.

    


Full Story Below:


Back Story | Ark Naturals

A Pioneer of Natural Products

Reference: Pet Age Magazine September 2013 Issue

When Susan Weiss started her business, the word “natural” wasn’t a household saying.

We recently spoke with Susan Weiss, owner of Ark Naturals, about her passion for the natural products industry, why it’s become so popular and her advice for others.

Q: Tell us a little about Ark Naturals.

Weiss: Ark Naturals is solely owned by myself and my husband Jay. We founded the company in 1996, when no one in the United States was interested in natural. Frankly, that was incredibly difficult.

Other companies that tried to introduce pet healthy products are long gone. We persisted and today we are the brand leader in what is still considered a niche category. We are known as a top-shelf line, and it’s not about the prices – it’s about the quality of our formulations.

One of the things that sets us apart is that we have products in two channels of business. The natural product category – i.e. health food stores such as Whole Foods (with Ark – not a human line) and the pet channel.

Our products are formulated by Dr. Nancy Scanlan DVM, the executive director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurts Ph.D affiliated with the USDA.

Q: How did you start Ark Naturals?

Weiss: We started Ark with all our own money. I had become involved in the natural product industry, and realized that if natural, holistic, herbal, etc… can help with humans wouldn’t they help animals as well. I thought it was a great idea, however, it took years of hard work to convince retailers and consumers that my idea made sense.

Being ahead of the curve is always “dicey”. Seriously when we got an order for $50.00 from a store – we thought we hit the lotto.

We solicited both the natural channels i.e. Whole Foods as well as the pet channel. The pet channel was totally uninterested in what we offered. The natural channel was slightly interested. It took about 8 years for the pet category to give us a nod.

 

Q: You were one of the pioneers of the holistic wellness and remedy for pets. How have you seen it change?

Weiss: Years ago, when we exhibited at a trade show, we would have to stand in the aisle hoping we could stop a retailer who was walking the aisles to give us a minute of their time. I can’t tell you how many retailers told us, “no one wants natural.”

One of the problems with my category is that it really requires education.

When we started the vast majority of retailers didn’t think anyone would purchase these type of products. Additionally, pet retailers were frightened about the ingredients, how to pronounce them, what they offered.

Fast forward to today, and things have changed: How much a human spends per year on the healthy, well-being and happiness of their pet, the number of pet friendly hotels and it would be impossible to find a retailers, even one with a tony amount of space who does not carry natural products.

I feel that I played a large role in helping retailers understand the potential not only for the health of these for legged guys, but that they had a great opportunity to grow their business.

I take my role as one of the pioneers in the category very seriously. At the end of the day, I always remind my staff, my retailers, etc… that we are dealing with living breathing creatures, and that we need to be super careful about what we recommend and how we educate, because messages delivered, are sometimes mistranslated by the retailers, consumer, etc…

 

Q: What’s your advice to other women business owners in the pet industry?

Weiss: Here’s my generic advice to young entrepreneurs, success rarely, rarely, rarely, ever happens overnight. Think of your business as running a marathon versus a 100 yard dash. Each of those races requires very different strategy.

Be prepared for failure. Be prepared to lose money initially. Be prepared for ‘no’.

For women, you need to be prepared financially, emotionally and you need to be smarter than everyone including your competitors and every man on the street, because even though we say we believe in equal opportunity, in reality we aren’t there yet.

At the same time, be nice, be honest, look professional, know your business, make friends.

If you’re socializing – keep it very professional, because a guy can make a fool of himself but a woman can’t. If you have a little success don’t let it go to your head.



Images and Story courtesy of Pet Age Magazine.



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