Since 1904, Fromm Family Foods has maintained a tradition of quiet innovation dedicated to the health and nutrition of animals, proudly declares the company website. In the 1930s, Fromm introduced the first canine distemper vaccine, and in 1949 it introduced the concept of premium petfood to the consumer market, claims the company. Based in Wisconsin, USA, Fromm Family Foods is now in its fourth generation of being family owned and operated. For more than four generations, the Fromm family has brought together veterinarians, biochemists, research specialists and food production engineers to formulate their petfoods.

In 1948, the late Dr. Willard Roberts, PhD and chief nutritionist created the first generation of Fromm Family Nutritionals petfoods. Since then, Fromm has continued to improve upon each Fromm Nutritionals recipe, while maintaining certain traditions. For example, the Classic Nutritionals line is still based on the "four-grain principle" and uses 17 different ingredients. But that doesn't mean this company built on tried and true principles doesn't have anything new up its sleeve!

"We have several new introductions planned for 2012," Tom Nieman, owner and president of Fromm says. "The first new products we will be introducing to pet specialty (stores) will be two grain-free dog recipes for our Four-Star Nutritionals line—Salmon Tunalini and Game Bird Recipe." These new entrees will add to the variety-driven Four-Star line which encourages rotational feeding and is designed for all life stages and life styles. "Pet parents can switch between recipes as often as each meal without creating digestive upset and can rest assured they are feeding their dogs (and cats) the best nutrition possible," he explains.

"Staying true to ourselves and our mission has been key to our growth," says Nieman. "As one of the last remaining family-owned and -operated companies, continuing our tradition of quiet innovation is something that will always remain near and dear to our hearts." Tom Nieman, together with his sons Bryan and Dan—who represent the fifth generation of family ownership—focus on continuing to create only the very best foods and treats for dogs and cats and that propel the company forward. "Family ownership allows us to commit to long-term strategic plans that are generational and center on producing the very best products," says Tom. This is often contrary to the three- to five-year, or even quarterly valuations which are typical benchmarks for investment bankers and publically traded companies.

But being unconventional in their strategies has seen 2011 Fromm petfood sales grow at a rapid pace, so much so that a newly built state-of-the-art facility in Columbus, Wisconsin, USA, was necessary to keep up with consumer demand and allow for further expansion in the future. A fully commissioned warehouse expansion is already set to be unveiled and open in February 2012. "The petfood industry remains very robust and strong. While the economy has suffered in recent years, the desire of pet owners to provide the best for pets has remained high," attests Nieman. "Additionally, social media, the Internet and more informed buying practices motivate more pet parents to seek out better and often more expensive food options for their pets. Choosing the right petfood can be a passionate and emotional topic, which often translates to more awareness and consumer spending on petfoods."

With such a prestigious history and a hopeful future, what more does Nieman hope for his family company? "What keeps me awake at night is simply that I love what I do. I am passionate about what I do and want to continue to create the best products possible. Right now we are in a great place as a company and I look forward to the opportunity to share our products with more pet parents throughout North America and the world."

Business Basics

Headquarters: Mequon, Wisconsin, US
Facilities: Mequon, Wisconsin and Columbus, Wisconsin, US
Officers: Tom Nieman, owner and president; Richard Best, COO
Brands: Four-Star Nutritionals, Gold Nutritionals and Classics
Distribution: Nationwide and select areas of Europe and Asia
Employees: 44