The Look Who's Happy pet treat brand was introduced to the pet food market in September 2014 by the co-founders of Big Creek Foods, brothers Jeff and Tommy Gay. With Big Creek Foods, founded in 2013, the two aimed to take their family history of providing value-added ingredients to the pet food industry a step further—by producing premium pet treats made from high-quality ingredients.
“The Look Who’s Happy brand was created to produce the best natural treats for dogs,” says Tommy Gay. “We built our own state-of-the-art production facility in Gainesville, Georgia (USA)—the poultry capital of the world, meaning we have availability of some of the best raw materials—to manufacture our canine products. As the exclusive producer of the Look Who’s Happy treats, we are able to control the quality of our products and ensure every ingredient is the absolute best.”
Look Who’s Happy strives to keep its packaging bright and easy to understand so the end users feel comfortable in their buying decision. The ingredient deck is minimal and the treats contain only human-grade proteins and ingredients.
That facility was a significant financial investment, but a worthwhile one, according to Gay. The Big Creek Foods plant is engineered to produce pet treats to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety standards, beyond what is required for pet products. In 2015, it attained SQF (Safe Quality Food) 2 certification, a certified HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) food safety plan benchmarked by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).
Partnerships with pet food distributors and retailers have helped make Look Who’s Happy a continuing success. “We continue to see strong growth, month after month,” says Gay. “We have added great distributor partners all over the US and Canadian markets and are continuing to look at capitalizing on our success. Our broad reach is a strong driver for new retailers coming on board and gives us the ability to reach pet retailers in almost every state in North America. Our focus on the key pet retail influencers helps drives our business now and into the future.
“We provide our pet retail partners with unparalleled sales tools, especially for a company our size,” he says. “This level of support makes our success at all facets in business shine through every day.”
The growth and strength of higher-end pet retailers continue to provide the Look Who’s Happy brand with the best vehicle to reach pet product consumers, according to Gay. And as the line of treats continues to expand, the brand’s marketing strategy is designed to capitalize on those retailer partners by driving consumers into stores on a regular basis.
“We have seen the market become flooded with treats of varying quality with many claims [since Look Who’s Happy’s 2014 market introduction],” says Gay. “This market mix has helped us to focus our message to the pet retailers and end users. Every time a pet parent opens one of our Look Who’s Happy treat bags or smells our treats, we gain a customer for life. That instinctive response is what we now push through all our sales and marketing efforts.”
Once Look Who’s Happy gets customers in the stores, the treats sell themselves, says Gay. “A key to our success is that our treats taste and smell great to pets,” he says. “Our treats are smoked with natural beech wood, giving each one a unique aroma that is pleasing to the pet parent as well as the happy dog. I catch my own dogs staring at our bags wanting more.”
“The purpose of giving a treat is to reward your dog, but also to give the pet parent a positive interaction,” he says. “The quality of our treats comes through in the treat’s appearance and aroma, making them a repeat purchase over and over again.” In 2015, Look Who’s Happy released its Happy Wraps line of treats. Happy Wraps are made using chicken breast hand-wrapped around a sweet potato or carrot slab. They’ve been such a success, according to Gay, that the company had increase production to meet demand.
The company’s Happy Wraps treats, introduced in 2015, are made using chicken breast hand-wrapped around a sweet potato or carrot slab. Tempt’n Tenders are made with US-raised cage-free chicken and crushed with ingredients such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and blueberries.
Beyond taste, Look Who’s Happy focuses on packaging and the treats’ ingredients to keep products moving off the shelves. “The treat segment is a crowded field and standing out is always a challenge,” says Gay. “The pet parents have a tough job sorting through all the claims made by different brands. At Look Who’s Happy we strive to keep our packaging bright and easy to understand so the end users feel comfortable in their buying decision. Our ingredient deck is minimal and we only use human-grade proteins and ingredients. These extra steps for quality will help us stay on the top in our segment, and we know if our dogs love the products then so will our partners and pet parents.”
Look Who’s Happy plans to extend the brand even further in the near future, to a line of Look Who’s Healthy products that will focus on various aspects of pet health and wellness.
The pet food category, treats and food, will continue to grow in the near future, according to Gay. “The trend towards higher quality and added value price points is a strong driver in this segment,” he says. “The brands that can bring the best products matched with a strong marketing program will be the ones that come out on top. In addition, “a continued push toward all things US will be an ongoing demand from the ever-growing discerning pet parents. Pet parents are looking at all ingredients and where they are made to feel more secure in their purchases for their dogs that are a family member.”
“The purpose of giving a treat is to reward your dog, but also to give the pet parent a positive interaction,” says Look Who’s Happy President and Founder Tommy Gay.
Challenges aside, Gay says Look Who’s Happy sees continued success in its future. “We see nothing but positive growth for years to come,” he says. “This is not to say it won’t be challenging and hard work, but we are excited about the continued growth possibilities.”
Just the Facts
Headquarters: 2637 White Sulphur Rd., Gainesville, Georgia, USA 30501
Facilities: 1 production facility on premises
Officers: Jeff and Tommy Gay, co-founders; Chad Patterson, vice president of operations; Bruce Flantzer, senior vice president of sales and marketing
Sales: The Look Who’s Happy brand was introduced to the pet trade in September 2014, with eight SKUs of Tempt’n Tenders and Fetch’n Fillets. We have now placed our 10 SKU family of products, including our new Chicken Happy Wrap varieties, in over 1,000 independent pet retailers in the US and Canada.
Brands: Look Who’s Happy
Distribution: National distribution to independent pet stores