The American Pet Products Association
By Andy Darmohraj, Executive Vice President and COO
Andrew Darmohraj, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), has been with the Association since 1997. He oversees all aspects of APPA’s day-to-day operations including membership, accounting, and the marketing communications and public relations department which promotes APPA’s mission, its members and the pet product industry.
The Evolution of APPA and its Membership
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), as it was originally named, was founded in 1958 by Allan Levey as a result of 17 manufacturers coming together to take a chance on the pet industry. In a time when the industry itself was little more than an idea, no one would have ever imagined it to become the multi-billion-dollar industry it is today. However, as the industry grew at an unprecedented rate, along with The Association’s membership, need for a central venue for networking, sharing ideas and conducting business became evident.
The first APPMA trade show took place in 1959 and was offered solely for pet product manufacturers in the U.S. Over time, there was an increase in overseas manufacturers paving the way for international companies to join the Association. Likewise, large chain stores and big-box retailers began entering the market, as consumer demand for pet products continued to rise. These trends eventually led APPA to join efforts with the Pet Industry Distributors Association in 2005 to produce what is now Global Pet Expo. Shortly thereafter, APPMA dropped “Manufacturers” from its name to provide greater flexibility for future growth while positioning the Association as the go-to organization for the pet industry. Fast forward to today, APPA has more than 1,200 members around the world. And just this year, we welcomed 1,174 exhibitors and 7,029 pet product buyers from around the world to the premier industry event, Global Pet Expo. The Show featured 360,400 net square feet of exhibit space and more than 3,000 new product launches.
As a leading and unifying voice in the pet care community, APPA has worked to grow and support the industry far beyond the direct services we provide our members. In the last six years, we’ve contributed $10,000,000 to sustain important initiatives designed to raise awareness of the joys and benefits of responsible pet ownership. These initiatives include: Pets Add Life, Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation Pets and Vets Program, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, The Pet Leadership Council, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Bird Enjoyment and Advantage Koalition, and the Pet Care Trust.
Becoming a Member
Our mission at APPA is to provide our members the services and resources they need to thrive in the industry. To fulfill this goal, we’ve developed programs and resources in response to member feedback amid a rapidly changing global pet product climate. APPA membership benefits include eligibility to exhibit at Global Pet Expo, exclusive access to market research, legislative representation, media exposure and educational opportunities. Annual dues are issued based on a company’s world-wide sales, but all members have access to the same programs and opportunities offered.
Despite the steady growth in membership we’ve experienced over the years, serving our members has remained a top priority for APPA. We have staff specifically dedicated to communicating with our membership through an array of channels such as weekly emails, marketing campaigns and social media posts. Perhaps most importantly, Global Pet Expo is an invaluable opportunity for us to speak with our members face-to-face, and establish and maintain the relationships that the industry is built on.
The Driving Forces Behind The Association
APPA has a total of 21 members on staff. Each department’s responsibilities are designed to support The Association’s mission of providing services and opportunities that help member companies thrive in the pet industry. With two departments dedicated to membership recruitment and retention, we focus on the growth of APPA while serving the needs of current members. The trade show department assists all exhibitors at Global Pet Expo with their booth and exhibiting needs, while overseeing its operations to produce the premier industry event. We also work closely with the buyers from 80 countries that attend the Show every year. Additionally, APPA’s departments include marketing and communications, regulatory and legislative affairs, accounting, and administrative and human resources, along with the executive team. Lastly, we have a strong team of leaders serving on APPA’s board of directors. Many of our board members come to APPA with top-level executive experience both inside and outside the pet industry, which has greatly contributed to the Association’s success, growth and overall impact in the industry. We’re fortunate to have a passionate, dedicated team.
Looking to the Future
More than ever before, young people are waiting to start families and instead, getting pets first. In fact, Millennials make up the leading pet-owning demographic, owning 35 percent of pets in the U.S. APPA is committed to ongoing research to assess all generations and demographics across the board, exploring lifestyle trends, purchasing habits and market forecasting. APPA publishes its biennial National Pet Owners Survey, designed to monitor consumer behavior, and identify industry trends and opportunities for business development. To keep The Survey data fresh and relevant, we’ve partnered with a new research company and expect to publish new results in early 2019.
We also look forward to continuing to expand our global reach. Our new online international data resource, powered by Euromonitor International, will provide information vital to international growth. An APPA member exclusive benefit, users can gauge compelling overviews, trends, forecasts and market driver data to identify global business opportunities, assess their viability within a market and support their strategic planning for trade development. We’re planning for release on this data, early this year as well.
An endeavor that’s especially important to us is our partnership with Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). APPA recently pledged $1 million over the next four years to aid in the extension of ARF’s Vets and Pets program which partners shelter animals with veterans coping with PTSD, anxiety, traumatic injuries and other challenges associated with their service. Not only does the program align with our mission to promote responsible pet ownership, but it perfectly encapsulates the power of the human-animal bond.
Giving a Voice to the Animals
APPA has been a long-time supporter of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), which was created to monitor live animal issues and address laws and regulations pertaining to the entire pet care community. Currently, we’re working closely alongside PIJAC to push for higher breeder standards in order to ensure animal welfare as we address the nation’s growing demand for puppies. Furthermore, pets are significantly impacting their caregivers’ living, work and travel arrangements, which is why we’re working to increase accessibility for pet owners. To do this, we’re advocating for more pet-friendly living and work environments, pet-related benefits offered by employers and safety regulations and accessibility for pets traveling by airplane. Lastly, we’re supporting important legislation dealing with pets’ contribution to a person’s health and well-being, for example, the Pets and Women Safety (PAWS) Act which will help survivors of domestic abuse and their pets seek safe shelter together.
For the Love of Pets
For over 60 years, APPA has been a leader in the pet products industry and we will continue leading and growing this $70 billion-dollar industry for years to come. Since the beginning, we’ve adapted to major changes and taken a proactive approach, anticipating challenges that could affect the success of the pet care community. Moving forward, we’ll keep doing this, while fueling the momentum, ingenuity and increased productivity that has been especially apparent over the past few decades. As we continue to see how much of an impact pets have on our health and well-being and our love for them only deepens, APPA is dedicated to supporting the industry as a whole and working together to ensure that we’re also giving pets the best life possible. After all, everything we do comes down to pets and the incredible bonds they form with their caregivers. We’re committed to supporting quality manufacturers and suppliers who work hard to ensure pets and their humans have better lives together. Together, we will continue making the pet industry the best industry out there.
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AT A GLANCE
WHO: The American Pet Products Association
WHAT: A not-for-profit industry association representing the pet product sector
WHERE: Stamford, Connecticut