Address: 2842 S. 5th Court, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Year Founded: 2003
Product or Service offered: High-quality freeze-dried and frozen pet food products for both dogs and cats.
Projected 2013 Revenue: $25 million
Founder and Chairman: Marie Moody, founder and chairman
Other key members of the leadership team: Jen Guzman, CEO
Target Clientele: Dog and cat owners seeking healthy and tasty dinners and treats for their pets. All of Stella and Chewy’s products are made with grass-fed beef, cage-free poultry, and wild-caught fish, and we add organic fruits and vegetables and vitamins and minerals to our dinners to make them 100 percent complete and balanced.
Business organization memberships: American Pet Products Association, World Pet Association, North American Raw Pet Food Association, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, Something Special From Wisconsin
What has fueled your company’s growth?: “Pet owners are looking to make healthier choices for their pets and that choice leads them to Stella & Chewy’s. Because of the ingredients we use and the quality of those ingredients, our products have a taste that dogs and cats naturally crave. Additionally, our retailer partnerships have been instrumental in educating customers about Stella & Chewy’s products, and have been an important part of our growth. Attracting the right talent to our organization has also been a key factor. We have a very talented workforce and many supportive partners in the community.”
What is the biggest obstacle to your company’s growth?: “Our biggest obstacle has been managing rapid growth and supporting our capital requirements. Stella & Chewy’s has grown on average by 73 percent annually since 2008, and we’ve gone from 1 employee in 2006 to over 165 employees today. After moving from a 13,000 square foot facility to a 50,000 square foot facility in late 2011, we are now evaluating a further expansion of our manufacturing plant. Throughout, we have been fortunate to have a partner like Park Bank that has continued to provide additional capital and the flexibility we’ve needed to meet our growth objectives.”
Do you plan any changes in your company in the upcoming months?: “We continue to innovate and expand. We launched Exotic Dinners for dogs late last year and recently introduced the newest formula; Phenomenal Pheasant. We have also made new hires in all departments from sales & marketing to operations to finance to support Stella & Chewy’s growth. In addition we are expanding into Canada later this year.”
Who are the business people, locally or nationally, whom you admire? And what traits do those people exhibit that make you admire them?: “When I decided to open up my own plant, I knew very little about manufacturing. I recognized that in order to succeed, I would have to find people with expertise not only in manufacturing but also in food safety and freeze drying. I’m very appreciative of how generous people were with their time, knowledge and support. In general, I admire people who are kind and generous of spirit and I have been fortunate to have met a number of these people both professionally and personally.”
What is the outlook for the business conditions of your industry over the next several months?: “The market for freeze-dried pet foods has been growing much more rapidly than the overall pet food market. The outlook for Stella & Chewy’s is very positive as consumers continue to become more and more educated on healthy diets available for their pets.”
What is your company’s most important growth strategy right now?: “We are creating a new category with freeze dried pet foods and so our most important growth strategy is educating the consumer. If we can effectively communicate what is so different about our products, the Stella & Chewy’s brand will continue to grow for many years to come.”