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Pet Nutrition Revolution: Inside the World of Foodynamics with Sean B. Jones

Sean B. Jones, CEO of Foodynamics

Embark on a captivating entrepreneurial voyage with Stephen Bland & Sean B. Jones as they unveil the evolution of Foodynamics on the latest Wytpod episode. From a Chief Operating Officer in the healthcare sector to the proprietor of a successful pet store and freeze-drying venture, Sean shares the intriguing story of his career transition. Explore the growth of Foodynamics, from a humble 900-square-foot store to a thriving facility with industrial freeze dryers. Sean’s passion for pet nutrition and commitment to supporting fellow small businesses make this a must-listen episode for anyone curious about the dynamic world of pet entrepreneurship.

Foodynamics is a thriving pet store and freeze-drying venture, evolving from a small shop to a successful enterprise

Sean B. Jones
CEO of Foodynamics

Hello everyone, welcome to our latest Wytpod. I’m Stephen Bland, your host with wytlabs, a full-service e-commerce internet marketing agency. And I’m here with Sean.

Hi there, good afternoon.

Sean, feel free to let our viewers know about yourself and share a little bit of background of your history.

Sure. My name is Sean Jones and I own, a company, well, two companies, one called What’s in the Boat Enterprises, which is a brick-and-mortar, retail pet store. We have two locations in Wisconsin, one in Brookfield and one in, New Berlin, Wisconsin. And then I also own a freeze-drying company called foodynamics. And we make a brand called raw dog barkery. And then we also private label for about 50 other companies.

Great. And is that full? Is that an e-commerce website?

So we are, our pet stores are brick-and-mortar. And of course, we sell our products in our pet stores. We Raw Dog Barkery is, you can find it in over 275 stores. And we also have a website, it’s www.rawdogbarkery.com, and consumers if they don’t if it’s not located in a store near them, can order it online. we don’t sell on Amazon or any of the other marketplaces. And we do that out of respect for the brick-and-mortar pet stores that we’re in. And you can usually find our product in what we call a, you know, independent neighborhood pet store. So it’s not owned by a conglomerate. They might have a few locations or just one location, but they’re generally family-owned and operated stores.

Got you. So what inspired you to get into this industry?

Well, that’s a good question. In my prior career, I was chief operating officer with the United Health Care Organization and didn’t enjoy it very much or not as much as I used to. We have four children, adult children, and three of them were all getting married within 18 months of each other. And we wanted to come home because we had relocated to several different cities throughout my career. And we wanted to come back home to Wisconsin to be with our kids as they got married and started their families. And my wife is a retired teacher and all of our lives, we had a, you know, one of those things that just was a consistent thread in my entire life, was for love of dogs. we had bred, or my family members, bred dogs when I was young.

 

And I don’t remember a time in my life when we didn’t have dogs and cats. And we’ve always had a very serious opinion or, love for nutrition in cats and dogs. So long story short, we opened up a very small pet store in 2016. When I say small, it was less than 900 square feet. And we thought, well, the worst thing that could have happened is, my wife would run the store and I’d have to get a job. So fast forward just over eight years now, we quickly within a year expanded into a larger space. And then in 2020, just as the pandemic was taking hold, we expanded into our second store. That was pretty scary, but it did work out. And right from the beginning, we were making freeze-dried treats in the back of our store So we had a small residential freeze dryer in the back of our store and we were making and selling treats in our store. And it didn’t take long before I talked to some other store owners, again, you know, small independent neighborhood pet stores where we were, we started to make products for them and it grew into a larger business. And to give you an idea, we were producing probably six to 10 pounds a month of treats in the beginning. And this last month we produced over 40,000 pounds.

Wow. That’s a lot.

So we’ve had significant growth and from an entrepreneurial standpoint, we intended to just have to share our passion for pet nutrition. And it led us down the path and we didn’t have to get a different job. So that was the benchmark for a long time.

That’s great. So besides pet lovers, I mean, do you have a specific target audience you’re looking at?

So we do and you can kind of figure in the market that we’re in, you can kind of guarantee that 50% of the entire population in the United States is either going to have a cat or a dog. We target the premium end within the pet industry. And I think most consers don’t realize that 92% or more of all the pet products on the market today are made by just two companies, Mars and Nestle, the candy bar companies.

And not that they’re, they’re not making quality products. But one of the things that I always tell our, customers is even the worst physician on the planet would tell everyone who’s listening that they should eat more real whole foods and less processed foods. And interestingly enough, the majority of pets in the country are eating almost exclusively incredibly processed foods. Most pet foods on the market are more processed than anything that a human eats. And it doesn’t make any sense that you would say that, you know, animals should be eating only processed food and synthetic vitamins. And sometimes people go as far as believing that real food or fresh food is dangerous and just never made any sense to us.

Yeah, it’s wild.

Neither my grandparents nor my parents ever even fed dog food to our dogs or cat food to our cats. It was always real food.

and they were probably healthier, right?

So, you know, that the lifespans of our domestic cats and dogs are getting longer when they’re statistically significant and significantly getting shorter. You know, from the time when I was growing up in the seventies and eighties, an average golden retriever is dying five to seven years sooner than they used to just 30 years ago.

And it’s not all the food. It’s, but you know, food is, one of the components that contribute to a shorter lifespan. You could say lack of exercise. You know, I’m not a huge environmentalist, but anything that’s probably not good for us is a lot worse for a cat or a dog to be exposed to. And then I think of breeding too, you hardly ever hear of breeders today breeding for health. They’re usually breeding for, behavior.

Characteristics or appearance do not necessarily help. So they have, so our domestic cats and dogs have, the deck is stacked against them.

Makes sense. What are your best-selling products?

So our best, everything that we make is freeze-dried. So everything is made from real whole foods. So our top three selling products are gonna be freeze-dried liver, freeze-dried chicken breast, and believe it or not, our third is freeze-dried whitefish. And everything that our company makes, and this is definitely in contrast to the majority of pet food companies. Everything that we make is human grade, but it’s all we source directly from the same sources that grocery stores and restaurants source from. And a lot of times, even in the industry, you’ll hear that something is human grade, but just because it started as a human grader, they’re sourcing from, you know, human grade facilities doesn’t mean that if they’re not made from scraps.

In the pet industry, there’s not a whole lot of regulation. So it’s allowed to feed something that’s been condemned or something that has been deemed inedible for han beings and you’re allowed to feed it to pets. So some of our products are things like chicken hearts and trachea or duck heads or something like that. But they’re harvested during USDA inspection harvest or slaughter so that’s done in a way that is done properly so none of the products are contaminated during the slaughter process.

Make sense. What’s your plan in general?

So our, well, I always say our plan is not to go bankrupt. So our food production facility, we started making it in our stores and then we quickly ended up moving into its facility, but that only lasted a year and that was one of the mistakes I think we made.

And believe me, we made plenty of mistakes along the way. And one of the big mistakes was realizing that you know, even though our goal was to grow, but we, you know, sometimes you think, okay, we’re going to lease the smaller facility and, you know, save money that way. We didn’t want to invest in a larger facility. So now we’ve done our third expansion and we’re a very large facility with very large bills.

So, our goal is to be able to move into this facility. So, we bought our first industrial freeze dryer which came online in July of 2023. And our goal is to add probably three or four more in the facility that we’re in. So each one of those, and we’ll probably anticipate going with a bigger one the next time. So we’ll quickly scale within probably 18 months to well over 100,000 pounds of product being processed a month.

Wow. What activities are you doing to promote the business at this point?

So that it’s interesting in our industry, we have a, and I shouldn’t say we, I have a very, very personal passion for working with small businesses. So, you know, maybe someone that it’s a small independent neighborhood pet store, but maybe it’s someone that just wants to start their treat business. So we are always going to, no matter how large our company would become.

We don’t have any minim orders. We always want to cater to those very small businesses or startups. But we also are making products for some of the larger pet food companies out there today. And we work with that. We go to national trade shows. Our next one is going to be in March in Orlando. And generally, there’s, you know, hundreds of thousands of square feet of pet products being there.

And a lot of people who own independent pet stores come to that conference and we talked to them. But we also talk to all the other big players probably all the listeners. Kind of know, these brand names and there’s a good chance that we might make either ingredients or some of their products for some of the larger companies as well. So our way to acquire a business is really to talk directly with, smaller pet stores and independent brands, but also work with some of the larger brands.

Got you. Well, Sean, is there anything else that you want our listeners to know about your products, yourself, or anything else that you want to get out there?

Well, you know, given the history of your podcast, I think it’s just, I just want to say to anyone that feels, you they had, that has an entrepreneur spirit that it’s always really difficult in the beginning. And for me, because we work with a lot of smaller startup companies, there’s all there always, there’s always a lot of fear. And I feel like small businesses have a lack of support. I came from a Fortune five company and the amount of support and resources is incomparable to what small businesses are up against. And I think this is probably a really difficult time to be in a small business because the larger companies, they’re, you know, their, their funding is a lot of times not linked to interest rates. And bank lending and things like that, whereas smaller businesses are. There’s, a lot of support through not just the SBA, but there are so many local and even national small business organizations that you can join and not, and that gives you access to a lot of other small business owners and podcasts like this. I think it’s really important to hear the journey and hear some of the challenges and solutions that other people have come up with so you don’t feel like you’re out there trying to reinvent the wheel every day.

I’m with you 100%. Well, thank you Sean for coming on Wytpod, and thank you so much.

All right, thank you. My pleasure.

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