By Alicia Cunningham | Feb 14, 2018
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Pet Treats and Products
Roy Goodart, co-owner of Bully Boy Pet Products, is one of three siblings that came together nearly five years ago to start a pet product business. From the beginning, the siblings handled all parts of the business together: marketing, sourcing, producing and even bagging to distributing. But they quickly discovered that a family that does it all together may not have everything all together. They needed to go back to the drawing board.
"We started off slow, and that allowed us to do everything in-house. But now we're growing by leaps and bounds. We're trying to catch up!" Goodart says. To help in the process, they turned to a facility partner in Spanish Fork, Utah. "Today, we only do the sales, marketing, account maintenance, and similar tasks," Goodart explains. "And they do the big stuff. It works for us."
Bully Boy Pet Products is a family-owned business inspired by a family tragedy. One of Goodart's brothers had a Bull Terrier that passed away after a piece of rawhide get caught in his intestine.
"We started looking to see what was really in the market, and we saw that there were not many good treats options out there. We stepped back and realized this was something we could do," Goodart explains.
Goodart's siblings had extensive experience in product distribution. They understood how to open doors: they just needed a good product.
"We started off with beef jerky strips. They are soft, chewy-type treats for dogs. We'd smoke our strips for 15 hours to produce a rich, smoky product that the dogs loved. Harmons picked us up, and customers liked the fact that we made our products in America, we were local, we were natural," Goodart says.
Bully Boy Pet Products also began offering Bully Taffy. "And that has gone like wildfire," Goodart says. "We put it out into the market in June, and we cannot keep it in stock."
Today, Bully Boy Pet Products are offered in both retail locations as well as online and both market streams compete for time and attention. "Finding the right balance, finding where we should spend our time, is challenging," Goodart adds. "We originally started out just in stores. Our focus has been retail because we already knew the space, the buyers, and we already had the network in place." Goodart understands that if you don't know it, you hire it. "We picked up people that are focusing on the online market," he explains. "We see is as a strong area where we can expand. We can offer more customized products as well as different sizes."
In addition to researching different market streams, Goodart and his siblings took a step back to research the product itself.
"When we started, we jumped in quickly. We didn't do the market research. We were lucky that we had access to retailers, people liked us, and they came back. We really stopped and looked at our product on the shelf. We realized that it blended in. It was the same color and the graphics were similar to everyone else. So we asked people about our packaging and discovered that our customers wanted to know that we were 'Made in the USA.' They wanted to know we were natural and safe. They even wanted to see brighter colors on our packaging like a bright blue and yellow and orange. So we made the investment and the complete shift," Goodart says.
Bully Boy Pet Products also got a whole new view of the grocery aisle. In his market research, Goodart discovered that customers wanted a full window on one side: they wanted to see exactly what they were buying. "Incorporating these changes has paid off in a huge way for us. We have doubled in size, and we are getting ready to double again."
Challenges: Business/life balance. When Bully Boy Pet Products first started, everyone kept their day jobs. "It was hard to balance starting a company and growing it all while trying to maintain your other life. It took awhile to get to the point where we could pay everyone and make it full-time."
Opportunities: New retailers and new products. Bully Boy Pet Products has partnered with new distributors in order to sell to larger institutions. "We could triple or quadruple our business because of the size of their reach. We also have a few new products on deck, and we are excited to get those out," Goodart says.
Needs: Capital. Up to this point, Bully Boy Pet Products has been self-funded. "But we are to the point where to get to the next level, we might look for a loan or an investor. The big box retailers all have financial requirements that require more capital than we have. We definitely have an adequate reserve, but we do not want to spend out that reserve and then flounder. We need enough capital to help us support all of our efforts at the same time," Goodart says.