PET PRODUCT NEWS: PIDA is now 50 years old. How did
the organization get started, and what were the key
events in its evolution to where it is today?
Steve King: PIDA was started in June 1968 when a group
of 16 pet supply distributors from across the country
met in Chicago to discuss their mutual interests. Later
that year, they hired an executive director and, with 32
charter members, the association was born. Then, as today, the organization’s purpose was to enhance the role
of distributors in the growing pet supply channel and to
work cooperatively with manufacturers and retailers to
strengthen the industry.
PIDA’s first annual meeting took place in Chicago
in January 1969 with 34 members in attendance. This
began an unbroken run of 46 years when the PIDA annual meeting was the premier gathering place for pet
industry distributors and manufacturers in a non-trade
show setting. The emphasis was on networking, learning from experts from across the business world and
working to solve some of the industry’s biggest problems. That tradition continues today at the Pet Industry
Leadership Conference that is jointly hosted by PIDA,
the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the Pet
Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and World Pet
Trade shows have been an important part of PIDA’s support for the industry since its earliest days.
The first PIDA-sponsored trade show took place in
downtown Chicago in July 1970. There were just
over 100 booths, and nearly 900 retailers attend-
ed. The show moved around the country for sever-
al years before settling into the new O’Hare Expo
Center in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont in 1977.
The show was moved again in 1981 to Orlando, Fla., and
then found a home in Tampa, Fla., in 1985, where it was
held each March for the next 14 years. PIDA also spon-
sored a trade show for many years in the Dallas suburb
of Arlington, Texas, beginning in September 1985. In
2005, PIDA and APPA combined shows to create Global
Pet Expo in Orlando. From the humble beginnings of a
100-booth trade show in 1970, PIDA now co-sponsors
the largest annual pet industry trade show in the world
with more than 3,500 booths and nearly 7,000 attendees.
PPN: What type of support and resources do you offer
to your distributor members?
King: PIDA has always offered a broad array of products and services to distributors to help them compete
in the ever-changing world of pet supplies. Benchmarking studies that allow members to compare their
operations with other wholesaler-distributors are
conducted regularly. PIDA participates in a biannual
cross-industry compensation study that compares employee compensation and benefits among hundreds of
distributors in more than 20 lines of trade. The annual
Performance Benchmarking Survey allows distributors
to compare their teams’ performance in sales, marketing and logistics against industry averages as rated by
Exclusive member publications such as the monthly
ITR Advisor and the Pet Economic Report give mem-
bers timely information on economic trends at the mac-
ro level and specific to the specialty pet market.
PIDA also provides services to members through
third-party providers such as credit and collection
through CST Co.; energy-use audits and procurement
solutions through APPI Energy; and discounts on insurance, credit card processing and shipping through
our affiliation with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW).
PPN: What is the Power of D?
King: The Power of D is a marketing program that we
developed more than a decade ago to promote the value
that distributors bring to the pet product channel. It is
aimed primarily at manufacturers that are trying to decide how to go to market and makes a very convincing
case that distributors can actually take cost out of the
channel by efficient logistics and marketing support.
The program was updated last year with a new Power
of D website that features video interviews with distributors about their relationships with suppliers and
customers. A new, graphic-heavy brochure walks the
reader through the distribution process, demonstrating
distributors’ value-added contributions along the way.
PPN: It’s clear that PIDA’s overarching goal is to support
distributors in the pet industry. However, the organization also offers valuable resources to today’s independent pet specialty retailers—with Pet Store Pro being
a key offering. Can you tell us about it, how it’s evolved
and what it offers retailers?
King: Pet Store Pro was developed nearly 10 years ago
to deliver quality, consistent training to pet retail associates. Independent retailers’ market advantage should
be knowledgeable sales associates who are trusted resources and problem solvers for their customers. But
developing a comprehensive training program is difficult and time consuming. Pet Store Pro is available free
of charge, 24/7 to retailers to supplement their in-house
We now have 30 chapters on animal care, customer
service, sales, merchandising, nutrition and many other
PIDA celebrates five decades of supporting the industry’s
distributors while becoming an indispensable resource for
manufacturers and independent pet specialty retailers, as well.
For half a century, the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) has been enriching the role of distributors in the pet supply channel while working to promote relationships with manu- facturers and independent pet specialty retailers. President Steve King recently spoke to Pet
Product News to give readers a glimpse at the organization’s past 50 years and explain how the
organization offers support and knowledge for today’s distributors, as well as manufacturers and
pet specialty retailers, helping to increase the odds of success for them all.
Steve King, president of
Two-thirds of retailers feel that they are valued by their distributors, but that there is room
PIDA, speaking at a recent
for improvement. Most retailers use from four to seven distributors, largely to obtain
specific product lines that they want to stock in their stores.
In a survey conducted by PIDA, retailers praised their distributors
for their courteous delivery drivers and helpful salespeople.