Krista Wickens & Don Standing
Secret to Success:
The Ogden Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has selected PetZen Products to receive a small business award for the second quarter of 2012, representing one of 11 businesses throughout the state of Utah.
PetZen Products has been selected to receive the award for successfully launching a pet products startup involving design, prototyping, manufacturing and distribution throughout the U.S. and Canada. Co-owners, Krista Wickens and Don Standing have also been selected to receive the award based on the business’s economic and service contributions to the Ogden community.
Wickens and Standing started PetZen Products in 2008 with just an idea—to promote canine health and fitness with a uniquely designed dog treadmill. PetZen is now manufacturing and selling innovative pet products to large vendors including Amazon, Petco, Frontgate and Brookstone, as well as provide direct-to-consumer sales through their website.
Since the business’s launch, PetZen Products has generated employment for five individuals including a designer, a legal aid, and a computer specialist. Wickens and Standing have also donated both product and time to the Best Friends Animal Society, local charities, and pet rescue groups. “In business, it’s not always about what you get,” said Wickens. “It’s about what you can give as well.”The Ogden SBDC Director, Beverly King, who provided Wickens’ consulting during PetZen’s startup said, “There have been a lot of challenges that PetZen overcame to start the business. Their ability to manufacture the product overseas and then get it past all the shipping obstacles to get the product here to the U.S. is a really huge accomplishment. Those are the kind of obstacles that stop many people.”
The products developed include a first of its kind canine treadmill, designed for time-constrained pet owners that features a natural running platform with low side-walls and is free of any leash-binding mechanisms (unlike previously designed canine treadmills). The treadmill also comes with a complete training manual and video instruction for novice pet owners looking to find ways to keep their canine friends healthy. “The dogs like the routine and the reward they get,” said Wickens. “They experience a release in endorphins that reinforces the activity.” Wickens and Standing have also developed other products aimed to help dogs be healthier including travel gear, water bowls, bottles, and leashes.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Ogden has played an important role to help PetZen launch the business. When deciding to start the business, PetZen contacted King at the SBDC to see how the center could help. Wickens and Standing were pleasantly surprised to learn that the SBDC provided no-cost business consulting, including help to write a business plan, and help to access funding opportunities through loans and investors.
Looking forward, Wickens and Standing plan to develop more products that will help people keep their pets healthy. Wickens will continue to work with King to help her grow the business and provide more employment opportunities for people in the area. “Being successful is not an end destination, it’s something that is ongoing,” said Wickens. “The important thing is being happy with where you are and what you do, and to continually strive to do better.”“Having Beverly gave us the impartial input and feedback that we needed. We didn’t need a friend, we needed someone with business savvy to give input on where we were going and help us identify any red flags,” said Wickens. “She gave good direction in terms of the business plan and where to market. We are using the business plan daily to keep our focus.”