“It has been incredibly rewarding to see the trends in the pet industry come around to embracing our philosophy about animal health and nutrition. We are growing because the trends caught up to Dr. Harvey’s,” says Wendy Shankin-Cohen, president and CEO of Dr. Harvey’s Pet Food and wife of the petfood company’s founder, Dr. Harvey Cohen. “When Dr. Harvey began talking about cooking for pets and using human-grade whole foods, the very idea of natural foods for animals was laughable to some, incomprehensible to others.”
Shankin-Cohen is referring to the early 1980s, during the inception of the company, but like all stories that are driven by truth, news of Dr. Harvey’s ideas began to spread, she says. Suddenly, the “eccentric doctor” who had the audacity to tell people that companion animals need natural food had everyone’s ear, because what he said made sense.
“Today we see more and more consumers looking to superpremium foods like Dr. Harvey’s that use only very high-quality ingredients, as what they want for their companions,” explains Shankin-Cohen. “With 30 years of experience in the natural sector of the pet industry, we are in the rare position to have been able to develop a reputation as a company that can be trusted.”
The company is a family-run business in the truest sense. It was started by Dr. Harvey and guided by his wife, Wendy Shankin-Cohen, and all three of their sons are involved in the business, too. In addition to Ty, who works and directs the company on a full-time basis, Remy helps with marketing and sales and Lincoln, who is a senior at Cornell University, helps with R&D and was instrumental in the development of the Oracle line.
In 2013 Dr. Harvey’s launched Oracle, a line of US Department of Agriculture-inspected, antibiotic free, freeze-dried raw foods for dogs and cats. As with all of Dr. Harvey’s products, Oracle contains no preservatives, dyes, coloring agents or synthetic ingredients, claims the company.
The launch of the Oracle line marked an enormous leap forward for Dr. Harvey’s, as it was the first time in the company's history that it is offering a complete food that includes the protein in a “just add water” formula. Dr. Harvey’s has offered premixes to which pet parents add their own meat and oil to make a complete meal since the beginnings of the brand.
These foods have always been very popular, but they require a bit of preparation as pet owners have to add their own protein to make the meals for their pets. These foods are a great solution for people who want to make homemade food, supplement a raw diet or have a dog with health issues that require special amounts of protein, fats or other ingredients, explains Shankin-Cohen. “What we realized was that in our fast-paced world, even this minimal preparation can be daunting for some people, so Oracle makes preparation even easier. [Oracle] has far exceeded our projections of being accepted into this fast-growing part of the petfood market,” says Mrs. Shankin-Cohen of the petfood’s launch.
Dr. Harvey’s also just re-launched their very popular Sweet Potate’r Chews and Fries. These treats are grown, dried and packaged in the US and are minimally processed without additives of any kind, claims Dr. Harvey’s. The treats also have been rebranded and have new brighter labels. “These treats are presented in clear bags so pet parents can actually see what is inside,” explains Shankin-Cohen. “Dogs love these treats and they are great for oral health while supplying all the vitamins and minerals that are contained in sweet potatoes, promoting good health.”
Pet owners no longer have to rely solely on advertising or veterinary recommendations when it comes to feeding their pets, says Shankin-Cohen. "Pet parents today are much more educated about the necessity for pure, healthy foods and treats for their companions,” she continues. “As a result of this awareness, the popularity of Dr. Harvey’s products has exploded. We have seen people change their own diets and then realize they should be feeding healthy foods to their pets, too.”
As a company, Dr. Harvey’s listens very closely to its customers. “They tell us what they want and need for their pets. We try and respond to their needs and the needs of their companions by creating healthy solutions that will make their lives better,” adds Ty Cohen, director of design and technology.
“Our customers think of their pets not as pets, but as members of their family, and they want to treat the members of their family with the same respect as they treat themselves. I understand this, because I feel the same way,” says founder Dr. Harvey. “We know our customers and appreciate what they want for their animals. We are demanding pet parents ourselves and understand what it means to want the best for your pets. This is what I have been teaching for over 30 years now.”
In 2008, Ty, son of Dr. Harvey and Wendy Shankin-Cohen, joined the family business and introduced and implemented major technological innovations and advances for the company, including a custom-designed inventory, quality control and shipping program. The custom software has made inventory control, cost analysis and order processing operate seamlessly, giving Dr. Harvey’s an impressive capability to monitor daily operations as well as predict future growth, claims the company.
Dr. Harvey’s also recently moved to a new facility in central New Jersey. The new larger and more modern space has enabled the company to streamline its production and meet the rapidly growing demand for its products. The location offers ample space for growth as well as additional office space, a photographic and video production studio and a much larger shipping a receiving area. The company is now working at the intersection of health, technology and production.