Putting Customers First
Daminger’s pleases pet owners with targeted product
recommendations and friendly service.
Pet Product News: How has your store evolved in the nearly 90 years it has been in business?
Ken Daminger: My grandfather, George J. Daminger, started the business in 1929 on
the same property where the new store is currently located. He began selling livestock food to locals who raised animals for their own consumption, as well as
poultry farms that raised chickens for eggs. Since then, the store has grown into
a complete pet and animal product destination for things like hay, straw, pine,
cedar bedding and cat litters, as well as seasonal plants during spring, summer
PPN: What trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely?
KD: Keeping with the tradition of hard work and product knowledge set by my
grandfather, Daminger’s is committed to service and keeping up with pet industry trends. Treats with CBD oil, raw frozen and freeze-dried pet foods, medicinal
mushrooms and raw goat’s milk supplements, Bach Flower Remedies and essential
oils are just a few of the more recent additions to the Daminger’s lineup.
PPN: What are the top-selling products in your store right now?
KD: Our top-selling products are from Fromm Family Foods, NutriSource, Zigna-
ture, Farmina, Verus, Stella & Chewy’s, Steve’s Real Food, Vital Essentials, Orijen
and Acana. We definitely see more clients moving to raw frozen and freeze-dried
foods from the standard kibble.
Our store is focusing on products that are not sold via e-commerce. We try the
best that we can to check where the ingredients are sourced.
PPN: How do you keep customers coming back?
KD: The reason we have such a diverse selection of pet foods, treats and supplies
is to match the product to the needs of the pet within the financial constraints of
the consumer. We don’t just stand behind the counter and wait for the customer
to bring their purchase to us—we interact with the customer, get to know them on
a first-name basis and basically develop a relationship. We want them to feel like
family when they enter our store. So if we recommend a product that does not work
for our customer’s pet, we are at risk of losing that relationship.
We have a satisfaction guarantee for any product purchased. Without happy
customers, we would be out of business. We have to make the best recommendation we know so that our customers’ pets are healthy and happy.
Some of the local veterinarians are more into nutrition than others, so we try to
connect with them through informative “get-togethers” where we host their staffs
for question-and-answer sessions.
Ken Daminger, co-owner with Tom Mariner of Daminger’s Natural Pet Foods in Sewell, N.J.
Years in business: 88
Type of business: brick-and-mortar PHOTOS COURTESY OF DAMINGER’S NATURAL PE T FOODS
Jones Naturals in Rockford, Ill., has ap-
pointed JOE WALLINGTON as
its president. Wallington
will oversee a recently
team focusing on
the company’s new
strategy and overall
growth. The company’s multichannel
brand strategy includes expanding its
Jones Natural Chews and The Country
Butcher product lines, as well as a new
brand platform for the flagship Jones Natu-
ral Chews line. Wallington will oversee all
aspects of these initiatives in his new role
as president of the parent company.
Wallington has more than 30 years
of experience in the consumer products
industry and has led direct sales force,
direct store delivery (DSD), broker and
distributor/dealer go-to-market initiatives.
He has spent his career developing sales
and marketing strategy and has held direc-
tor and vice president level positions with
Ralston Foods, Purina, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay
and Michelin North America.
Over the past eight years, Wallington
served as a corporate officer and vice
president of sales and marketing for Star
STEVEN “LEE” HIGGINS
has been hired as
southeast regional sales
manager at BrightPet
Nutrition Group. In his
new role, Higgins will be
responsible for the continued growth and
expansion of the Blackwood and Adiron-
dack brand pet foods in the southeast
region of the U.S. Both are premium prod-
uct lines manufactured by the company in
Lisbon, Ohio, and distributed to customers
Since 2009, Higgins served as national
sales manager at Hi Tek Rations Pet Foods
in Dublin, Ga., where he was charged with
driving sales results—and closed business
with new accounts including Amazon,
Tractor Supply and Whole Foods. At Hi Tek,
he was the recipient of the organization’s
Million Dollar Club Award and Salesperson
of the Year.
Before joining Hi Tek Rations Pet
Foods, Higgins worked at G&K Services
in Macon, Ga., from 2004 to 2009. In a
dual role—district sales manager and
branch manager—Higgins served in a
sales and operations capacity, cold calling
and scheduling new customers, as well
as monitoring the P&L. At G&K Services,
Higgins was recognized year-over-year
as one of 20 top-selling
Pet Wants hired
SCOTT HOOTS as
its president. Hoots
has been working in
franchise leadership since 1992
and will work to improve the overall Pet
Wants system and help individual fran-
chise owners to be even more success-
ful, said company officials.
The company’s specially crafted pet
food formulas are made in small batches
with fresh, natural ingredients enhanced
with vitamins and minerals for a complete
and balanced diet in every bowl. There are
currently 78 Pet Wants franchises in the
U.S. The Pet Wants franchise system offers
both a retail store model with delivery and
a mobile-delivery-only model.
Hoots is a certified franchise executive
as awarded by the International Franchise
Association and has excelled in all
facets of franchise leadership: operations,
marketing, sales, compliance and financial
management, officials added.
He most recently served as the vice
president of franchising for American
Family Care, where he oversaw 160
franchise locations, both operational and
under development. During his tenure
at American Family Care, Hoots grew
the total franchise system revenue by 31
percent in 2016. Prior to that, he worked
as the director of operations for American
Dental Partners, the director of franchise
attractions at Ripley Entertainment, the
director of franchising at 1-800-Flow-
ers, and both the corporate operations
director and franchise operations director
at Domino’s Pizza.
The Pet Wants franchise is part of
Strategic Franchising, a group of affiliated
franchise brands, based in Cincinnati.
NICOLE MITCHELL has been hired as
program director of member relations and
business development for the American
Pet Products Association (APPA).
In her new role at APPA, Mitchell
will identify new sources and cultivate
strategies to recruit prospective members
and assist with program development,
implementation and new marketing campaigns to encourage member retention.
Mitchell will also assist with managing
show organizer relationships and facilitating growth in the international pavilions at
Global Pet Expo.
Mitchell has 12 years of experience
and previously worked at Zotos International as the senior project manager
of private label. There, she managed a
product development team and developed
product positioning strategies and line
extensions for clients.