View Other APPA Professional Women's Network Issues Print this Newsletter Send this Newsletter to a Friend  |  August 16, 2012

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

Retailer Spotlight: Julia Block

An interview with the owner of Bark Slope Salon

Upcoming Events

Visit us!

Save the Date

Sales & Marketing

For Your Business

Are Women Entrepreneurs Different From Men? By Carol Frank

Getting Involved

Pets in the Classroom

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. 


Sue Brown
SR VP Sales and Marketing at F.M.Brown’s    
800-334-8816 ext 206  


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? 
I had been working as a groomer for various doggie daycare facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They were all kind of miserable experiences, mostly dark dungeon type locations with no natural light, dogs constantly barking from cages, and terrible smells. It was really a need to preserve my own sanity without abandoning the field that I started my own grooming salon.

What do you do to make yourself and your business stand out? 
We are a true neighborhood business. I know my clients, what's going on in their lives, the ins and outs of their pets' behaviors and anxieties (as well as the owner's). Also, the work atmosphere I was looking to create for myself is very appealing to customers. It is important that they have a place they can feel comfortable leaving their pets.

Do you think there are challenges specific to women business owners? 
In pet grooming I think that customers are actually more accustomed to working with women than men. However, my biggest challenge is when vendors and others in the industry assume my husband or father owns the salon. That is when I have to step up and say that I am the owner. After that's established, we are able to move forward with the task at hand.

Where do you see yourself and your business in the future? 
I've been really excited to see how much my business has grown in just these first two years. Busy seasons come and go but they bring more and more regular customers with them each time. I'm looking to expand to a bigger space where I can have at least two full time groomers on the floor at all times.

What advice do you have for newcomers to the industry?
Definitely do your research. When you see how other businesses operate it's easy to see what does and doesn't work. Create a space where you want work, if customers come in and see you enjoying yourself it helps them have faith in your business. Also chances are if you like the environment you've created, others will too.


Upcoming Events:

Visit us!

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)
September 11-13, 2012
Las Vegas, NV
Mandalay Bay Convention Center

HH Backer Show (booth 1417)
October 12-14, 2012
Chicago, IL
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center


Save the Date

Please save the date for this upcoming webcast:

Creative Compensation
Presented by Carol Frank
Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 2pm ET

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: 

  • Successful women and men entrepreneurs are similar in almost every respect.  They had equivalent levels of education, early interest in starting their own business (about half had at least some interest), a strong desire to build wealth or capitalize on a business idea, access to funding, and they largely agreed on the top issues and challenges facing any entrepreneur.  
  • The top factors motivating women to become entrepreneurs were:
    • The desire to build wealth
    • The wish to capitalize on a business idea they had
    • The appeal of a startup culture
    • A long-standing desire to own their own company
    • Working for someone else did not appeal to them 
  • The data showed no statistically significant differences in the life circumstances of men and women.  The average age when founding their first companies were early 40’s; they had similar numbers of children living at home:  one.  Men were more likely than women to be married when starting their business (55% of women and 65% of men).  In other words, they had similar life conditions. 
  • In a statistically significant difference, women, more than men, believe that prior industry work experience is crucial in the success of their start-up.  In addition, women were much more likely than men – almost twice as likely – to secure their main funding from a business partner (27% Women vs 16% Men).  They were also more likely to use personal savings to fund their businesses (68% versus 61%).  I was not surprised to see that men were significantly more likely to fund their business through Venture Capital (17% Women vs 24% Men) or private/angel investors (15% Women vs 18% Men).  Since I work in the field of investment banking, I have noticed that it is very rare for a woman owned business to either seek or procure VC or angel money.  Part of my role as chair of the Women’s Council is to increase those percentages. 
  • When asked about the biggest challenges of starting a business, both men and women answered that the amount of time and effort required was the #1 challenge, closely followed by the difficulty of co-founder recruitment.  Interestingly, 59% of women listed concerns about protecting the company’s intellectual capital as a big concern, versus 39% of men.  I am glad to see this listed as a concern because protecting your intellectual property can be one of the most important ways to ensure financial success.  Also, more men (52%) than women (46%) felt that the lack of available capital/financing was a major challenge.  

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!  

# # #

Carol Frank of Boulder, CO, is the founder of four companies in the pet industry. As a Managing Director at SDR Ventures Investment Bank, Carol leads the team in executing pet industry transactions including M&A, capital formation and strategic advisory services.  She is also the owner of BirdsEye Consulting, the consummate source for pet sector consulting expertise. 

She can be reached at

Getting Involved:

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, or contact the Pet Care Trust’s Executive Director, Steve King

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