RAWZ Natural Pet Food is a company with two missions — improve the lives of pets and improve the lives of those living with disabilities — and it puts its money where its claims are. In fact, RAWZ has pledged to donate 100% of its profits (less taxes and reserves) to organizations that provide service dogs, brain injury and spinal cord injury services via The RAWZ Fund, established in 2015 alongside the company.
For the Scott family, pictured here, pet food is a way to take care of pets and people. (Courtesy RAWZ Natural Pet Food)
The story behind The RAWZ Fund
Jim and Janet Scott, two of the three co-founders of RAWZ (the third is son Jim Scott III), have a very personal story behind the way they run their business. Two of their sons, Andrew and Jim, each suffered life-altering accidents (a fall resulting in a spinal cord injury and a car crash resulting in a traumatic brain injury). One of the things that helped Andrew and Jim during their recoveries was their connection with the family Yellow Lab, Boomer. Finding themselves in the position to give back to communities that help people in similar situations, the Scotts founded RAWZ and partner with five organizations: Northeast Passage, which empowers individuals with disabilities to define, pursue and achieve their therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports goals; NEADS Inc., which offers a wide array of service dog programs and trains service dog teams; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA; National Service Dogs; and Krempels Center, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with brain injury.
“Our focus continues to revolve around the recovery and success of our children, as it would for any parent,” says Jim Scott. “We wanted to share this ability with all individuals and families who are affected by injury and/or disability.” Thus, The RAWZ Fund was established.
Since 2015, the company has donated US$1.8 million to its RAWZ Fund partners, including US$671,000 in 2020 in spite of the challenges of a pandemic.
“We’ve worked hard to continue providing pet parents with amazing nutrition products and information on the benefits of minimal processing through challenging times,” says Scott. “As a newer company with unique product offerings, we rely on our independent retail partners to communicate with and help us educate pet parents. We’re grateful for the support of the entire RAWZ family of suppliers, our trusted independent retail partners and pet parents who have joined us in improving the lives of people and pets.”
Independent pet retail partnerships key to RAWZ’s success
Unsurprisingly, part of the RAWZ business model involves helping its retail partners succeed, with a significant focus on the independent channel.
“We have a unique approach to sales and marketing, focused on helping our retailers grow their overall business first and their RAWZ business second,” says Scott. “We are committed to our independent-pet-retail-exclusive distribution strategy, including not selling direct to any e-commerce companies.”
This doesn’t mean, however, that RAWZ is unaware of the importance of e-commerce — in fact, the company strives to ensure its retail partners have a stronger presence online than ever, especially in the wake of significant consumer shopping shifts due to global lockdowns and reduced mobility worldwide during the pandemic.
“There is a serious need for independent pet retailers to increase their presence in the online space,” says Scott. “While this is a venture that can utilize scarce resources like time and money, we believe that it is a necessity for the survival of the independent pet industry. This is why we are partnering with organizations like Promoboxx (a retail marketing platform), OneBark (a tool built to help brands share products, news, resources and content with pet retailers) and the Independent & Neighborhood Pet Retailer Association (IndiePet) to provide as much assistance to our retailers as possible.”
RAWZ’s products include options for cats and dogs, with 100% of the profits going to organizations that focus on service animals as well as those that provide brain injury and spinal cord injury services. (Courtesy RAWZ Natural Pet Food)
The need for adaptation is vital to success in the pet space right now, according to Scott.
“Changing consumer behavior and the growth of e-commerce have been transformative in our industry,” he says. “This evolution of consumer behavior was certainly accelerated by the pandemic. For RAWZ, and we believe our independent retail partners as well, we must be adaptable in how we communicate what sets our products apart as well as our unshakable commitment to improving the lives of pets.”
To that end, RAWZ has ventured more firmly into the online space, taking steps in 2020 to get its brand in front of consumers looking online for their pets’ needs.
“Perhaps the biggest change has been the need for our marketing strategy to shift from primarily in-store conversations with pet parents to more digital activity,” says Scott. “In 2020, RAWZ ventured into the social media and digital marketing space and has focused these efforts on increasing awareness of our mission as well as to help our retail partners increase their social media reach and engagement with less effort.”
The company also launched a new website to improve the user experience and tailored the site, digital marketing efforts and a blog to help bring new customers to the digital doors of independent retailers.
RAWZ Natural Pet Food: positioned for success
Scott says he knows that understanding the evolution of what consumers want from their pet food companies is key to staying relevant in the pet space, and he believes that RAWZ is well positioned to succeed, in business and in continuing to give back.
“Now, more than ever, pet parents want real, wholesome food choices for their pets that practice sustainability and stand for something greater,” says Scott. “We know that consumer buying trends favor companies that give back and focus on sustainability. With our commitment to providing clean, superior nutrition options for pets while continuing to donate 100% of our profits, we believe we are in a unique position to maximize the number of pets and people that we can help.”
And of course, maintaining and strengthening partnerships is more important than ever.
“Our key to growth will continue to be a strong relationship with pet parents and our retail partners in the independent channel,” says Scott. “We feel strongly that creating a bond around helping improve the lives of people and pets with pet parents, retailers, distributors and suppliers is the key to our success. Without pressure from private equity firms or a board of directors, we are able to focus on meaningful growth and change that truly benefits our partners, pets and people.”
Headquarters: York, Maine, USA
Officers: Jim Scott, co-founder; Janet Scott, co-founder; Jim Scott III, co-founder, business development; Brad Bushong, vice president of sales; Karen McDorr, manager of business operations and accounting; Jodi Langellotti, director of marketing and education
Brands: RAWZ Natural Pet Food, Aujou by RAWZ, Tapa, Sa-shi
Website/Social Media: www.rawznaturalpetfood.com, @rawznatural on Facebook, @rawz_dogs and @rawz_cats on Instagram, @rawznaturalpetfood on LinkedIn
Notable: The Scotts make up three generations of pet food business knowledge: Jim Scott Sr. purchased Old Mother Hubbard in 1961. Jim Scott Jr. took over the Mother Hubbard brand and launched Wellness Pet Food (sold in 2008). Scott Jr. and Jim Scott III are co-founders of RAWZ.