Still Rooted and Branching Out
Rockford, Ill.-based Jones Naturals plans to grow its brands while continuing to partner with
independent pet retailers that can benefit from the equity the company has already built,
reports president Joe Wallington.
Pet Product News International April 2018
What is Jones Naturals up to right now? What
tops your list of priorities?
Joe Wallington: I have lots of priorities always, but I
would say the top four are:
• Continued distribution expansion with the Jones
Natural Chews brand in pet specialty, farm and
hardware channels exclusively, as well as expansion in all channels with a multi-brand approach.
We now have three brands to minimize channel
and pricing conflict. With two other brands, we
can meet other channel needs while protecting
the exclusivity of the Jones Natural Chews brand
in the channels that are building their natural
chews set around the brand.
• Increased investment and focus on the innovation
pipeline. We are focused on the fastest-growth
segments within the treat category and will
leverage our points of difference and brand equity to gain quick distribution with our customers
and attention at the shelf level from consumers.
• We have the best service levels in the business,
and we plan to keep that reputation as we grow.
So another key focus is efficiencies and capacity
improvements with new proprietary manufacturing equipment and oven expansion.
• Investment in our greatest resource, our people,
by building the capability of the team through
both training and attracting new talent into the
More specifically, what goals do you have related to
the independent pet specialty channel?
Wallington: The independent pet channel has been the key to
our success thus far and will continue to be. In essence, they
brought us to the dance. We fully intend to concentrate the
Jones Natural Chews brand to indie pet so they continue to
enjoy solid margins and not feel as though they are competing with every possible channel, including e-commerce.
Our website sends shoppers to our independent pet retail
outlets that stock the Jones Natural Chews line. We expect a
lot of traffic on our site based on our high SEO ranking for
keyword searches related to our type of products.
In order for independent pet retailers to take advantage
of our strategy to help them, it is really important that our
strong partners carry the key items and a representative
number of SKUs to ensure we have a Jones branding effect
at the shelf. Because our segment is only purchased by about
half of all dog-owning households, we also look for retail
partners that will properly promote and display our brands
to ensure we continue to close the remaining 50 percent of
potential end users by getting consumers to try our products
for their dogs.
Jones Naturals has roots in meat cutting
and meat butchery. How did this family
business evolve into Jones Naturals? How
has this expertise, passed down through
generations, helped the company become
what it is today?
Wallington: The Jones family meat-cutting heritage began in 1850, with each generation passing
the training down to the next. Robert L. Jones, the
founder of Jones Naturals, was trained by his father
and worked with him for 18 years. He then opened
his own meat-cutting plant in 1970. The company
had smokehouses to process hams and bacons, in
which the Jones’ began to process the natural dog
chews. As the family was fully trained in handling
meat for human consumption, this was invaluable
experience for manufacturing natural dog chews.
The meat company was also operating under the
HACCP inspection plan, and this naturally transferred to the dog chew processing as well. These
experiences laid the foundation for manufacturing
a quality dog chew in a food-safe environment.
Tell us about a few people at your company who
your pet specialty retail partners should know.
What role do they play in making your team
great, and what makes them great at it?;
Wallington: We have a great team of around 140 employees. A few standouts include:
Melissa Williamson, office manager. Melissa recently celebrated her 14th year with Jones. Melissa is a huge
asset and plays many key roles that help our order-to-de-livery process go smoothly for our customers. Melissa
really takes a “can do” attitude and takes every element
of her job seriously.
Jose Belen, production team lead. Jose is very
dedicated at ensuring the manufacturing team is
properly trained and understands all processing objec-
tives with emphasis on safety. He is extremely dedicated
to ensuring all manufacturing targets are met safely and
makes sure that every one on the team knows that what
they do contributes to our overall success as a company.
Shanna Taylor, logistics manager. Shanna is responsible for packaging priorities and coordination. Her job
is critical, as her department makes sure the right labels
go on the correct products and orders are filled at 100
percent order accuracy. Her job entails a lot of problem
solving and communication to the team. Shanna goes
above and beyond to meet our aggressive numbers and
make sure that customers are 100 percent satisfied with
Melissa Williamson Jose Belen Shanna Taylor
Joe Wallington, president of Jones Naturals
Tell us about your food processing and the
ways in which the company ensures top qual-
ity and safety for its customers.
Wallington: As I mentioned, Jones has the highest quali-
ty and safety standards in the industry, including SQF
certification. Along with our 100 percent USA-sourced
and -made products, and highest quality and safety
standards, we supply our customers with 99 percent
fill rates and flexible packaging capabilities; pet spe-
cialty protection strategy for the JNC brand; recognized
brand equity with retailers and consumers alike, and 30
years of pet treat manufacturing leadership.