Greetings! Here is the next edition of the APPA's Professional Women's Network quarterly e-newsletter.
The APPA Professional Women's Network's (PWN) mission is to attract and engage women in all aspects of the pet industry. Our purpose is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, and to promote social and career development activities that can help everyone achieve greater success.
This newsletter is just one of the many ways PWN keeps everyone connected to information, education, networking opportunities, roundtable discussions and collaborations on subjects that can help women in our industry to strengthen their skills and grow their careers.
Thanks for taking time to check out our e-newsletter. We hope you enjoy this issue, and each and every one that follows it!
Manufacturer Spotlight: Sue Brown:
History, Generations & Family Values: Standing the Test of Time
I am a proud member of the fifth generation of the Brown Family and part owner of the privately held corporation of F. M. Brown’s, Inc. F.M.Brown’s began as a grist mill operation in 1843 by my Great-Great Grandfather George Brown. The original grist mill still stands on Monocacy Creek PA and is preserved as a national historic landmark. A picture of the original grist mill and the story of Brown’s is on the back of every package that we produce and serves as a reminder of strength, tradition and integrity on which our company was built. Since then, each generation has served F.M. Brown’s and expanded upon the business for the following generation of Brown’s.
When I started with F.M. Brown’s in 1991, in the Sinking Spring, PA division that produces pet specialty products wild bird food, pigeon food and grass seed, I was placed in the position of Account Manager for the pet specialty division. At that time, we were producing only wild bird food, pigeon food and a very small line of pet bird and small animal food that was sold to a few regional customers. My goal and passion was to expand the Pet Specialty division of our company by developing branded specialty pet products and hobbyist quality wild bird food, increase our customer base nationwide and build our sales and marketing team.
In the past 20 years, my sister Marianne Brown Egolf who runs our division and Cecil Campbell who is our VP of Sales and Marketing and I worked together to build upon our facility in order to produce more pet specialty products and build our creative marketing and sales team that is supported by our customer service team and our dedicated production staff. We now produce a large variety of branded and private label product lines of top quality and private label specialty pet products including pet bird and small animal foods, treats, bedding and accessories. We also just produced a natural brand of aquarium and fish foods that has “hit the ground running.” Hobbyist quality wild bird foods are a very strong segment of our business and are formulated to bring the most colorful songbirds to backyard feeding stations. We are known in the industry for quality, service, innovation and packaging that sells itself with outstanding graphics and copy. Our Pet Specialty customer base includes national pet chains and strong pet distributors who sell our products to the independent pet market which we strongly support. We are constantly seeking ways to improve our company and get our story out to the general public. Currently, we are in the process of redesigning our website to make that happen.
People who read our story often ask me how F.M. Brown’s survived for so many years and into the 6th generation of Brown’s. How did we beat the stiff odds against us? What is the secret to the long-term success of a family owned and operated business?
First and foremost, the goal of our company is to endure long-term. All of our decisions are based on expanding and building the corporation for the next generation. Being a family owned business, we are afforded the luxury of not having to answer to public shareholders who demand short term profits and instant fixes. Instead, we can take time to strategize, adapt and overcome any unfavorable market conditions by working through them as a committed family team in order to continue our legacy. There is no tolerance for jealousy, selfishness or entitlement. We strive to do the right thing for our business, our family, our employees and our customers.
F.M.Brown’s has successfully reinvented itself throughout the generations while retaining its core values based upon tradition, strength, and integrity. As a member of the fifth generation of F.M.Brown’s, I’m proud to say that we successfully contributed to our history of reinvention by expanding our production facilities and focusing on the growth of our marketing and sales efforts in the wild bird and pet specialty markets.
“Stand still and die. Grow responsibly and flourish” are the mottos that we live by. There are times when one of us feels like giving up; but then which one of us wants to go down in history as the person who failed F.M.Brown’s? (How’s that for motivation?)
We have an unshakable family strength and stick together through thick and thin. We endure, grow and learn together. We still have old fashioned Friday night dinners at our parent’s farm where we gather together to enjoy my Mother’s cooking, my Father’s words of wisdom and decompress from our long week. We try to keep our discussions focused on family and not the business during these times. We nurture our children and encourage them to go their own way and pursue their interests with the hope that they will bring back to us ideas and concepts involving the continued growth of our business. We cannot wait to see what the next generation has in store for us. That is what makes it all worthwhile.
As I look upon the 6th generation of Brown’s, including my daughter Kristen who is our Marketing Coordinator and my nephew Austin who is our Regional Account Manager for Pet Specialty, I feel a sense of pride that I know my Father must have felt when my sister, Marianne and I joined the business. We will continue to learn from each other and pass the legacy on to future generations.
My networking efforts with women in the pet industry have been limited due to time-constraints; however I do maintain friendships with a few women in the industry who I met at industry trade shows from years past. I noticed back then that there were very few women with ownership and management positions in the pet industry and I made it a point to introduce myself to them when walking the shows. They have all become life-long friends. At the time, the few of us made it a point to get together for dinners or lunches and make time for industry news and the “girl talk” that we were all starved for. We shared our experiences and encouraged each other to keep going and never give up. It was very empowering.
Lastly, on a personal note, when asked what I do for fun or for a hobby, I stumble. I never know what to say because I’m sure that people are expecting something exciting like sky diving or African safaris. Both my husband, Cecil Campbell, and I work together in the sales and marketing department and any energy that we have left over at the end of the day is spent working out at our fitness center, discussing our children (between the two of us we have 5 children and 2 grand children), spending time with our extended family and playing with our Papillion - Abby.
Retailer Spotlight: Julia Block:
An interview with the owner of Bark Slope Salon
How did you get started in the pet industry/What motivated you to open your pet business?
What do you do to make yourself and your business stand out?
Do you think there are challenges specific to women business owners?
Where do you see yourself and your business in the future?
What advice do you have for newcomers to the industry?
We'll be at Superzoo and the HH Backer Show. Stop by the APPA booth to say 'hi' and grab some fun swag while you're there!
Superzoo (booth 2952)
HH Backer Show (booth 1417)
Save the Date
Please save the date for this upcoming webcast:
Registration coming soon!
Sales & Marketing:
Whether you are looking for information on dealing with an angry customer or training a new sales rep, visit the Selling Power website for easy to read articles to help you with your challenges in sales.
For Your Business:
Are Women Entrepreneurs Different From Men? By Carol Frank
As chair of the University of Colorado Deming Center for Entrepreneurship’s Women’s Council, one of the things I am privy to are studies and findings about entrepreneurs: what makes them tick, what motivates them, and how they became entrepreneurs in the first place. Recently I read a fascinating article sponsored by The Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship titled The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different From Men?
Turns out that we know VERY little about women entrepreneurs. This is one of the first formal studies ever launched about them and the hope is, that by understanding what makes us tick, we can increase the total number of female entrepreneurs participating in our economy. One thing we do know: female entrepreneurs are not nearly as prevalent as they should be. For instance, according to another Kauffman Study (Robb, 2009), which followed, a group of firms founded in 2004, only about 30% of the primary owners were women.
So Kauffman set out to address this gap through a study of 549 respondents. The people included in the study were all successful entrepreneurs. Here are the highlights:
Entrepreneurs have stereotypically had a masculine image – assertive, achievement-oriented, risk takers. It seems that women’s low representation among company founders reflects that stereotype. This study, however, shows the limits of that stereotype. In fact, successful men and women entrepreneurs share similar motivations, see the reasons for their success in largely the same way, secure funding using similar resources, and face many of the same challenges. Based on this research it certainly suggests that women can be at least as successful as men, if not more so in certain circumstances. So rock on ladies!
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Pets in the Classroom
With back to school on everyone’s agenda, we invite you to read up on the Pet Care Trust’s signature program, Pets In the Classroom, and how this pet-ownership and nurturing program may benefit your area schools!
Since launching in 2010, The Pet Care Trust has awarded over 8,000 grants to teachers across the US, and a few in Canada. The program continues to expand through the support of pet product manufacturers, retailers and other donors. To learn more about the program, or to get involved, visit the website at www.petsintheclassroom.org, or contact the Pet Care Trust’s Executive Director, Steve King firstname.lastname@example.org.