In January 2015, start-up pet treats company Pipeline Pet Products LLC announced the appointment of its new CEO, former Director of Big Heart Pet Brands (Canadian operation) Brad Hatt. At the same time, the company secured US-wide distribution of its initial flagship brand, Green Bark Gummies. These two changes to Pipeline serve as the backbone of the company’s overarching business strategy: expansion.
“Our sales have been steadily growing over the last year in the pet specialty channel,” says Pipeline President Kevin Treuer. “We are continuing to drive distribution via new distributor and retail partners across the country. We have partnered with Chuck Latham and Associates in the channel to broaden our distribution. Our products are ‘on trend’ in a huge and growing category.”
That category is specialty pet food—more specifically, specialty pet treats.Green Bark Gummies, gummy bear-shaped dog treats with a soft, chewy texture, include as an ingredient the company’s patented NutriCHIA, a highly bioavailable form of chia that delivers three types of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant-rich plant lignans and essential minerals. Pipeline’s focus on health and nutrition is evident in its other products, as well: the company has three other treat brands—Fruit Nibblers, Organicfuls and Droolers—launching in 2015 across multiple channels of trade, which Treuer says will expand Pipeline’s offering of healthy treats delivering three omega-3s.
“We want to be known for being a company that delivers products with measurable, healthy, nutritional benefits that are affordable and also deliver on taste,” says Treuer. “We believe that these three points don’t have to be mutually exclusive. All of our products contain [NutriCHIA]—there is nothing else like it in the pet industry.”
All of Pipeline’s current products, which are made in the US, will eventually serve as springboards for further expansion as their distribution spreads. “We strive to only launch innovative products, whether it be a line extension or a new brand,” says Treuer.
Hatt will play a significant role in the company’s strategy, as will a personal connection with the company’s customers. “We will be pursuing many new products and brands over the next couple of years, driving the growth of our start-up,” says Treuer. “Our new CEO [Hatt] has incredible experience with a great perspective on where the industry has been and where it is going. We will continue to be consumer driven and customer focused. Social media will be the driver to connect our brands with our responsible pet parents and their pet families. Through continuous communication we can develop those personalized relationships.”
Courtesy Pipeline Pet Products
Pipeline Pet Products’ four pet treat brands—flagship brand Green Bark Gummies, Fruit Nibblers, Organicfuls and Droolers—will be launching across multiple market channels in 2015, allowing the company to expand its healthy treats offerings.
Why specialty pet treats? “We see our biggest opportunity in delivering natural, organic and super healthy products at an affordable price,” says Treuer. “We plan to bring these affordable products to consumers across the country who currently buy less healthy and natural products due to the standard high cost of entry of ‘better-for-your-pet’ products.”
To that end, Pipeline is raising its next round of capital via the equity crowdfunding platform CircleUp. According to Treuer, CircleUp offers a broad community of investors who can assist Pipeline in the expansion of its business beyond financial contributions. “Working with a platform like Circle Up gives us access not only to financing, but also potential strategic alliance partners and investors,” says Treuer. “One of our main goals as we grow is to bring on value-added strategic partners, and Circle Up offers us a platform in which we can choose who we want those partners to be.”
The pet food industry is primed for this type of expansion strategy, and continues to be a market worth investing in, says Treuer. “It is always an interesting industry and continues to surprise the investor world with steady growth and margin delivery, even through recessionary periods,” he says. “We feel that the industry is continuing to evolve and expand particularly in the natural and organic categories. We are also seeing continued consolidation across the industry.
“We predict that in the future there will be just as many brands, but with fewer companies owning them, and we feel that this consolidation trend will also impact retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar,” says Treuer. “Taking advantage of the economies of scale just makes sense, as well as increasing buying power.”
The pacing of Pipeline’s strategy for growth will be key, says Treuer, and is also the company’s biggest challenge. “We are so excited about our brands and our future plans that it’s hard to slow down and pace ourselves,” he says. “Our desire to bring innovation to the pet category drives us, and even though we do need to maintain a fast time-to-market strategy, prudence and measured growth will plot our path. As well, pet consumer demographics are constantly growing and changing, and we will be working hard to accommodate all pet parents with our products and packaging.”
A high-quality product line and a continued focus on customer service will serve Pipeline well in 2015 and beyond, according to Treuer. The company plans to add a cat treat line-up in the fall of 2015, and will introduce a dental treat formula in 2016. “Our leadership believes in integrity and partnership,” says Treuer. “Strategic customer collaboration has proven, through our experience, to be critical for long-term profitable growth. A mutual benefit is a shared win for both partners. Innovation, healthfulness and palatability will always be the cornerstones of any product we launch. We have a jam-packed innovation pipeline and we are very excited about the future!”
Just the Facts
Courtesy Pipeline Pet Products
Headquarters: 1107 Fair Oaks – 816, South Pasadena, California, 91030, USA
Officers: Kevin Treuer, Brad Hatt, Tristan Cavato, James Volk
Sales: Pipeline’s sales have been steadily growing over the last year in the pet specialty channel. The company is continuing to drive distribution via new distributor and retail partners across the country, and has partnered with Chuck Latham and Associates in the channel to broaden product distribution.
Brands: Green Bark Gummies, Fruit Nibblers, Droolers, Hearty Bites, Holistic Essentials
Distribution: Pet Food Experts NorthEast, Animal Supply, Wholesome Pet