Small Business Spotlight: The Pet Pantry

The Pet Pantry employees prepare pet food orders that will be delivered directly to customers' homes.

More people than ever are choosing to eat local, organic food, so it’s not surprising that health-conscious consumers are also seeking healthier alternatives for their animal companions.

Enter The Pet Pantry, which has been delivering its own brand of all-natural dog and cat food to owners’ doors since 2005.

“Animals have always been of great importance to me, and I wanted my company to involve this passion I have for their health and well-being,” said Thor Wendland, founder of the Apex-based company.

Jeremy Izquierdo fills orders at The Pet Pantry warehouse in Apex.

“With The Pet Pantry I can be involved with animals while also serving their families, solving problems, and improving their nutrition on a daily basis. I have been doing this for over 16 years and have never regretted my decision to open The Pet Pantry.”

A dog or cat’s digestive system plays an important role in its overall immune system, Wendland says, making diet an essential component in a pet’s health.

That’s why the company’s recipes include human-grade meats, vitamin-rich grains, vegetables and other ingredients selected to promote the pets’ overall well-being. The Pet Pantry’s food has no byproducts, corn, wheat or chemicals. Plus, it’s made in the United States.

Not only is the food different, but his business model is different, which Wendland recently explained.

Max Garrett loads a Pet Pantry van, getting ready for the day’s deliveries. Most pet food orders are filled within 24 hours.

What services or products do you offer that are different from chain pet-supply stores?

We are different from chain pet-supply stores because we do not have a brick and mortar location, which keeps our overhead low, and allows us to invest more into the quality of our ingredients. We quickly deliver our customer’s orders at no charge. We are also directly responsible for the quality of our products and stand behind everything we sell with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. In over 16 years of operation, we have never had a pet food recall.

We also train our team members to help customers with nutrition issues their pets are having. For many pet-supply stores, food is not the emphasis and is a shrinking part of their business.

Why did you decide to formulate your own pet food?

My goal with The Pet Pantry was to deliver a superior quality product at a fantastic value. I wanted our food to use high-quality ingredients that benefited the health of the animal. When I started my business, the pet food industry was dominated by large multinational corporations that were more concerned about market share and profits, rather than delivering a high-quality food.

I worked with small animal nutritionists and veterinarians to formulate recipes that have stood the test of time. For example, our recipes have always contained ancient grains, which are now being introduced in other brands. We were also one of the first to include glucosamine and chondroitin in our foods.

A goldfinch eats from a bird feeder in front of The Pet Pantry, which also sells wild bird feed.

Has your vision for the business changed since you opened in 2005?

My vision has remained steady: to deliver a superior pet food while also delivering the best possible customer service. Over the years, I have been approached about franchising and different expansion ideas, but I have always wanted to optimize versus maximize. I enjoy what we do and how we do it. As long as we are relevant to our customers and can satisfy their needs, we will keep innovating and serving our community.

What has been the biggest challenge as a small business owner?

Time is a struggle for most small business owners, and that is the same for me. I have an extremely high standard of customer service and food quality. Ultimately, it is the small business owner who is responsible for making sure everything gets done, and the customer is pleased. This can lead to very long days, and it can be a challenge to get everything done. The satisfaction of doing it well and seeing pets thrive, makes it all worth it.

Thor Wendland, founder of The Pet Pantry, tends to business while enjoying the company of Millie, the office cat. “Animals have always been of great importance to me,” he says.

What has been the best thing about owning the business?

For me the best thing about owning my own business is that I can create a company that I would want to do business with as a customer.

Customer satisfaction is very important to me and as the owner I do all I can to keep a 5-star rating. I strive to hire kind people that share my commitment to service, and empower them to do whatever it takes, without having to ask permission or consult a policy manual. Our policy manual is very short, “exceed our customer’s expectations in everything we do.”

Working with a great group of people and seeing the results of our hard work is a great joy of owning my business.

The Pet Pantry
2521 Schieffelin Road, Suite 132, Apex
(919) 303-1990

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