“Grain-free and limited-ingredient diets continue to show strong
growth along with an ever-expanding array of less traditional protein
sources like bison, quail and wild boar, to name a few.”
What’s driving sales in the super-premium product categories today? And what distinguishes
your portfolio of products on the market?
Schmitz: Grain-free and limited-ingredient diets continue to show strong
growth along with an ever-expanding
array of less traditional protein sources
like bison, quail and wild boar, to name
a few. Formulations with meat first
and clear, clean ingredient panels are
preferred. All of Tuffy’s super-premium
lines (NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural
Planet) feature the exclusive Good 4 Life
formulation from Alltech, which provides
a food that performs for pets and sets
Tuffy’s products apart.
Tuffy’s opened a new production facility a few
years back. Tell us about it and take us inside
your production facility.
Schmitz: In late summer 2015, Tuffy’s
opened a new facility, built from the
ground up to provide the safest environ-
ment for food safety, efficiency and flex-
ibility. The facility has met or exceeded
expectations by combining the most
equipment and segregated
traffic, airflow and processes.
The 2015 expansion encompassed about 180,000 square
feet in total. Since 2015,
additional investments have
been made to the facility, including a new mill expansion
in summer 2018.
The fact that Tuffy’s is manufacturing in the U.S. is a major selling
point for your products. What are
the challenges and rewards of
being made in the USA?
Schmitz: As a u.S. manufac-
turer, we strive to source
u.S. products whenever
possible and have developed
strong relationships with other local
family-owned and -operated suppliers.
Supply and demand can sometimes offer
challenges, especially with more novel
proteins like bison.
Tell us about key people at your company who
your pet specialty retail partners should know
about. What role do they play in making your
team great, and what makes them great at it?
Schmitz: To single out just a few does
not truly reflect on one of the greatest strengths enjoyed by Tuffy’s Pet
Foods—the incredible experience and
skills captured in its family of team
General manager Jon ebeling is a
second-generation employee following
in the footsteps of his father, Gary,
who joined Tuffy’s in 1964. They lead
a production group that averages in
excess of 20 years of experience.
Chase rasmussen, vice president of
sales and marketing, and a member of
the family of ownership, works with a
team led by myself and an experienced
group of professional representatives
across the u.S. and Canada who have
been posting solid double-digit sales
increases and helping pet owners for
nearly a decade.
Central to the success and successful integration of these groups is the
family ownership centered around current president of KLN Family Brands—
Nelson. Charlie and his father, Kenny,
have guided Tuffy’s through many
industry changes with an unwavering
commitment to the independent retailers and family-owned businesses that
deliver the best in service, knowledge
and education to pet owners.
What is your vision for the future of Tuffy’s?
Schmitz: Tuffy’s Pet Foods is well positioned to continue growing and
adapting to the ever-changing pet food
market. The recent additions of a geo-thermal-controlled office complex and
state-of-the-art manufacturing facility
help ensure that the company is set
up to take advantage of new technologies, trends and opportunities moving
Investment continues as ground has
been broken on a new milling facility
that will allow for additional capacity
as well as the ability to handle new
and varied ingredients that contribute
to healthy pets. Several other expansions into other capacities are past the
discussion stage and into the drawing
room as Tuffy’s is poised to serve a
growing array of pets across multiple
food and treat categories. The Nelson
family of ownership remains “all in” on
this exciting industry and looks forward
to continuing—and expanding—the enjoyable relationships and partnerships
that have been developed over the past
50 years. h
Tuffy’s is owned by KLN Family Brands, located in Perham, Minn.