FERNDALE - With a new name and a relatively new owner, a Ferndale manufacturer is making new inroads in the pet products market.
Earlier this year, Absorption Corp. changed its name to Healthy Pet, acquired a cat litter product to go along with its other brands, and began importation of Europe's leading environmental cat litter into the U.S.
It's all part of a plan to increase the company's market share in the U.S. and international markets, said Healthy Pet CEO Ted Mischaikov.
The company employs about 120 people in its U.S. plants and has more than 70 employees in Ferndale. Mischaikov expects to add employees as it develops new product lines in the next couple of years.
Healthy Pet is currently strengthening its market, safety and quality assurance departments. The Ferndale facility concentrates on making high-performance organic fibers for products that range from pet bedding to oil spill cleanup.
"Business is going well, and we continue to make improvements across all metrics," Mischaikov said.
One reason Mischaikov is optimistic is the increased interest of U.S. consumers in ecologically friendly products, particularly ones that are healthier for pets, as well as humans, in the home. Cat litter alone has become a $2 billion-a-year industry, and more consumers are turning to natural and sustainably made products, such as the newly acquired Simply Pine, which has pine pellets.
The company is also adding food for small pets to its product lineup, focusing on animal treats.
The Ferndale plant is experiencing strong growth outside the U.S., with sales up 65 percent in the United Kingdom, and the Asian market growing rapidly, Mischaikov said. Wealth creation in Asia and Latin America means more people can have pets at home, and American-made products are popular in those areas, he said.
It has also helped that Healthy Pet is better able to reach new markets after it was taken over by the European firm J. Rettenmaier & Sohne Group last year. The changes mean customers should expect to see more Healthy Pet products in stores in the coming months.
One area Mischaikov is particularly proud of is the relationship the company has developed with Western Washington University's internship program. That includes students who are studying international marketing and business system analysis.
"This is something we want more of," he said, "because we've had such a good track record with them."
Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2269. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.
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