Spend much time at the Old Mother Hubbard corporate offices
and you'll sense a missionary zeal backed by good business
practices. I was there in January and met about 30 of the
people and pets that work there. They were bright-eyed,
bushy-tailed and authentic. I saw enough to think their mission
and cultural values are real - not just platitudes suitable for
Says CEO Jim Scott Jr., "Our core competency is teamwork
focused on doing whatever it takes to make the healthiest
petfood possible." The result is a company launching inspired
new products and growing at 20-30% per year.
All is well with OMH new product endeavors. Since 1997, the
company has launched many of its best-selling products. OMH was
spun off in 1926 from Hubbard & Sons, a Massachusetts
bakery. In 1961, Jim Scott Sr. purchased the business, and in
1992, Jim Scott Jr. became the company president and
subsequently CEO. Recent OMH achievements have included:
1997-the launch of the Wellness product line with dry dog
2000-2003-the extension of the Wellness product line to
include dry cat foods, wet dog and cat foods, treats and
2004-the Scott family's selection of Catterton Partners
(www.cattertonpartners.com) as a financial partner. (OMH is now
privately held by the Scott family and Catterton Partners.)
2004-becoming the number one natural food supplier to the US
pet specialty channel, according to OMH.
2004-the launch of Wellness Simple Food Solutions, a line of
food for dogs with allergies.
2004-2006-recruitment of a top-notch management team.
2005-expansion of manufacturing capacity by appointing two
bakeries, a new canned facility and a new extrusion plant.
2006-the launch of WellBites and Pure Rewards, all-natural
2006-the launch of Wellness 95% Meat, a mixer or topper than
comes in a can.
2006-the celebration of 80 years of product innovation.
Wait, there's more. In early 2007, OMH is introducing:
Wellness Feline Dietary Solutions: Complete Health; Healthy
Weight; Kitten Health; and Indoor Health.
Wellness CORE: a grain-free, protein-focused feline diet
that addresses key health concerns.
OMH must be doing a lot of things right; the compound annual
growth rate for Wellness has significantly outstripped the
market for the past five years, at an average of over 30%.
President Deborah Ellinger says the company is expecting
continued, sustainable growth of 20-30% for the next several
years; a pace that would put them among the top 10 global
At OMH, says Scott, "Family is number one and the job is a
close second." The company culture encourages OMH people to
have these priorities. In addition to the personal meaning of
family, Scott talks about a familial feeling at work. He wants
his team to work with "cooperation, trust and
The OMH mission is "to provide our animal companions with
the best-tasting, most nutritionally balanced foods and treats
available." The company is committed to a "holistic approach to
a healthy, nutritious diet" and to its independent pet
specialty store partners.
Says Scott, "We have a fundamental responsibility to do the
very best for the animals that provide us with unconditional
love, trust and companionship." Other basic values are:
Seeking out natural, preventive health care solutions for
Being thoughtful about what's happening on the inside of an
animal, as well as the outside.
Using the very best ingredients, mixed and cooked by people
who care about the quality of what they are making.
Making OMH products available in environments where there is
a shared dedication to knowledge and to doing what is best for
OMH has now has 11 manufacturing partners. Ellinger contends
that it's best for OMH to remain focused on the end result of
creating the healthiest petfoods. So, they choose not to
manufacture. But, that doesn't mean they don't expect a lot
from manufacturing. Management carefully selects manufacturers
that can do the job the OMH way. Ellinger recently investigated
16 plants, of which only two measured up to OMH's
The company also believes in a relentless approach to
quality assurance. QA manager Karalyn Naiburg, who joined OMH
from Starbucks, runs a tight ship. She believes in applying
human food standards to petfood, and her team's regular plant
audits help keep manufacturers in top form. OMH also has QA
inspectors on site at their warehouses identifying areas of
opportunity for improvement.
OMH expects that people on the processing line care about
the quality of what they are making. Says COO Michael Meyer,
"Our vendors are not just manufacturers, but true partners who
share our mission and commitment. At the end of the day, it's
about people and shared beliefs." One criteria Meyer uses is
the question, "Do the people on the line look you in the eye?"
Makes sense to me.
Having succeeded in establishing a healthy business in the
US, OMH is now looking at the world for business-building
opportunities. The company has received numerous inquiries from
companies that are interested in distributing Old Mother
Hubbard products in Europe and Asia. OMH will be launching in
its first overseas market, beginning in the first half of 2007,
with shipments to Singapore. OMH will ship direct from its
warehouse in Salt Lake City, USA, to a distributor in
Singapore. If this initial effort is successful the company
will expand into other Asian markets and possibly Europe.
Here is OMH's basic framework for producing new
Concepting: market analysis; consumer research; and
identify market and product requirements.
Feasibility: project scope and timeline; project team
ID; supplier ID/contracts; and supplier and testing
Product development: formula development; test runs; and
acceptability, palatability trials.
Marketing: creative development; naming; positioning;
main packaging (concepts, testing and final); sample
packaging; and master carton.
Qualification and execution: packaging printing and
availability; raw materials availability; distribution
center setup; launch materials and programs developed;
notification and training; field sales; consumer services;
final forecast; and final cost and margins.
General availability: PR and Web; begin manufacturing;
build supply; QA release; and available to ship.
Headquarters: Chelmsford, Massachusetts, USA.
Officers: Jim Scott Jr., CEO; Deborah Ellinger,
president; Michael Meyer, COO; Jean Lizotte, VP new
products; and Mark Shuster, VP marketing.
Financial partner: Catterton Partners, a private equity
firm. OMH is now privately held by the Scott family and
Annual sales: The compound annual growth rate for
Wellness has been at an average of over 30% in the past
five years. The company is expecting continued, sustainable
growth of 20-30% for the next several years. Total sales
Brands: Old Mother Hubbard, Wellness and Neura
Manufacturing: A network of 11 processing companies
qualified by OMH.
Websites: www.oldmotherhubbard.com and