If you have a dog, you probably have some toys, a dog bed…maybe a bunch of other stuff lying around. Not very attractive, right?
Snoozer Pet Products  says dog beds and seats don’t have to be “clutter” or ugly. They can be stylish and attractive, according to this family run pet business. And the dogs will love them, too!
Read more about Snoozer Pet Products in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does:
Makes dog beds, carriers and seats.
The company manufactures innovative products. Along with padded beds, they make doggy sofas and couches.
But products aren’t limited to the house. Want to take your dog in the car? They make padded car seats for dogs. How about bringing your dog along on your bicycle? Yep, there are padded seats for bicycles. There are even secure seats for your dog to feel the wind in her face on your ATV.
Dog products that look really good, and that dogs really love.
Of course, all pet owners want beds, seats and travel carriers that make their pets comfortable. But sometimes available options don’t look, well … attractive. Snoozer’s approach is to make dog beds look good, so that they don’t have to be hidden away. Snoozer’s Vice President of Marketing Gary O’Donnell (pictured above) tells Small Business Trends:
“Today beds are accessories to homes. They’re no longer something for the basement. They need to match housing decor. They need to match your car interiors. And so we’re really specializing in doing that and making the bed and the travel product a nice home decoration that someone’s actually not ashamed to have in their living room.”
How the Business Got Started:
Started in the family.
O’Donnell’s father launched the business 25 years ago after leaving his corporate job. O’Donnell’s brother then joined the business ten years ago. Gary O’Donnell joined the rest of the team just a year ago.
How the Business Has Grown:
By anticipating changing consumer attitudes and trends toward pets. O’Donnell explains:
“Twenty five years ago, dogs mostly slept outside or in garages or in basements or on the floor. Even having a bed way back then was a new thing. And those beds were simple. They were pretty much making it more comfortable for them being off the floor.”
Nowadays, pet owners want more for their pets. And the company has thrived because of it. Snoozer has grown about 500 percent over the last ten years. And their goal is to do that again over the next 10 years.
Knowing when to say “no.”
“Everyone loves dogs, right? How can you go wrong in the dog market? Except there are so many things to choose from, picking the best opportunity to work on now, and then resourcing it properly with money and people is our biggest problem.”
Like most small businesses, the company has to prioritize and make choices. At an event or trade show, O’Donnell said he might come across 15 great ideas, but will only actually be able to choose one or two. Picking the “right” opportunities is the trick.
Advice for Working in a Family Business:
It’s not for everyone.
It’s rewarding and, at the right time, O’Donnell said it can be a good thing. But he said he learned some lessons and received some training while working for a larger corporation that he wouldn’t have if he immediately joined the family business. He explained:
“To join it without having worked somewhere else, I think would be a mistake, unless you’re a pure entrepreneur.”
How They’d Use An Extra $100,000:
Improving gross margins to offer benefits to employees.
O’Donnell says that by focusing on operations and sales, the company could improve its margins enough to offer employee benefits.
Where and How The Company Sells:
Online and in small retail stores.
The company has its own website, but also sells its products via online retailers like Amazon, PetSmart and Petco. Snoozer also sells its products through small pet retailers throughout the United States and Europe.
This summer the company moved to a much bigger facility in Piedmont, S.C. This will allow them to eventually add 39 new employees.
O’Donnell said the state of South Carolina has been a great resource for the family business. “They actively support businesses and are wonderful to work with.” Being in a business-friendly locale makes a difference, he added.
Another accomplishment is a new website, featuring beautiful images of the company’s products along with intriguing captions (pictured).
About 50 employees total, including just 7 office workers.
O’Donnell said that many of the production workers have been with the company for 15 or more years. Even for the employees in this family business, it feels like family.
Well-behaved dogs allowed.
Sometimes the company’s office staff bring their pets to work for, ahem … market research. (Translation: so they can try out the beds!) Food snatchers, though … get banned.
Possible Expansion Into Cat Products:
Maybe someday, but not right now. After all, the company’s tagline is “For dog people, by dog people.” (Sorry, Grumpy Cat. You’re out of luck.)
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Images: Snoozer Pet Products website. Interview conducted live at #SageSummit 2014, in Las Vegas