BY JENNIFER BONCY
After nearly 17 years at the helm of the America Pet Prod- ucts Association (APPA), Bob Vetere is retiring, leaving in his wake a tenure as president and CEO distinguished
for its thoughtful leadership and strong advocacy for the pet
industry and its various participants—including the nation’s
pet-owning public. Now, as he prepares to hand over the
reins to successor Steve King, formerly the president of the
Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), Vetere looks
back at the organization’s most notable accomplishments and
forward to where the industry is headed, with sound advice
for retailers on how they should prepare. Also, armed with a
degree of insight that could only have been earned through
decades of experience, Vetere reveals why it is critical that the
industry learn from other industries’ mistakes and start shouting from rooftops its own best-kept secret.
Pet Product News: Congratulations on your impending retirement as president and CEO of APPA. Since you took the position back in 2002, APPA has seen tremendous growth. In your
mind, what have been the most notable, most powerful growth
spurts? And to what do you attribute this progression?
Bob Vetere: When I first arrived at what was then APPMA
[America Pet Products Manufacturers Association], the total
U.S. market for pet expenditures was just under $30 billion.
The industry had been showing strong but modest growth. But
trends were changing. People were beginning to make pets a
more important part of their lives—what today is referred to as
“humanization.” People were working in more isolated situations—cubicles with less and less interaction with other people.
Long workdays were followed by a trip home, dinner and, soon
after, bedtime. To fill the void of human contact, people began
to turn to their pets as someone to talk to, sit with and generally
have as a companion to fill the void. APPMA/APPA began to
Words to Remember
APPA’s outgoing president and CEO shares some well-honed advice about divulging the industry’s strongly held secret
and the future of pet.
“… Our commitment to animals is one of the world’s
best-kept secrets. We all know it, but we have been remiss
in not letting those outside of the industry know it.” Bob Vetere
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