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Brad Kriser - Kriser’s All-Natural Pet Food

Brad Kriser

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Brad Kriser LOVES his pets. As an entrepreneur, he has followed his heart and his passion—right into a $58 billion industry. Laura Max is at Kriser’s, an all-natural pet supply store, with Brad Kriser, founder and CEO. Kriser opened his first store in Chicago in 2006; he now has 25 locations.

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Laura: Hi, everyone! I'm Laura Max and you're watching The BusinessMakers Show, brought to you by Comcast Business; "Built for business." I am here in Kriser's with the owner and founder, Brad Kriser. This is an all natural pet supply store and I am so excited to be here. Welcome to the show, Brad.

Brad: Well, thank you for having me.

Laura: So, tell us a little bit about Kriser's. What is your mission? What do you do here? How many stores do you have all throughout America?

Brad: Kriser's was conceived out of, really, a passion for pets and really wanting to give them the best possible nutrition and the best possible ways to be able to live their life; an "all natural lifestyle" is what we call it.

Laura: Very important for humans and for dogs and cats.

Brad: Absolutely; very, very important. So, what we do is - we wanted to create somewhere that, when you came in, not only is it a place that is nice to shop in and aesthetically pleasing, but with an educational environment, most importantly. So, you can come in and find out what is gonna be best for your pet - for your dog or cat - and put them on the best possible track for a healthy life.

Laura: So, an "educational environment;" that's very interesting 'cause so many of us - we're starting to learn a lot more about our own health and how to take better care of ourselves, how to exercise. When it comes to dogs, I mean, a lot of us are going to Costco and saying, "Oh, look! This is cheap. I'm gonna give it to my dog." Why do we need to stop doing that? And what is it you're offering to help people really give their dogs the best - and cats - the best meals possible?

Brad: Well, I mean, first of all, is we all know pets are a part of the family now. They are -

Laura: Absolutely!

Brad: The amount of pets that actually - 67 percent of people say that their pets sleep, in bed, with them.

Laura: I'm one of those people.

Brad: Exactly! You know? And even higher give gifts for holidays or for birthdays.

Laura: Guilty!

Brad: So, you know, it's really a part of it. So, it's an - there was not a lot of possibilities and options out there, before, to be able to feed your pet -

Laura: No; absolutely.

Brad: - in a "natural lifestyle" and all natural foods. So, now, with that being available and there, and people getting more and more involved in, "What is in my pet's food?" I mean, that's a question that they ask. And there have been numerous issues and things, over the years, with a lot of other mass, commercial brands, that people have said, "I gotta know what I"m feeding my pet because I want them to live - to have a long life."

Laura: Yeah! I mean, our pets are our best friends.

Brad: Absolutely.

Laura: I call my dog before - like the love of my life Hampton Roads.

Brad: We call them "furry family members," "furry kids."

Laura: My "fur baby." I've called him that, as well.

Brad: Yeah, exactly; "fur baby."

Laura: So, how did you get so passionate and so invested in this business? You started this business eight years ago in Chicago?

Brad: Yes.

Laura: And you're now in four states across the US. What - I mean, we all care about our pets but - what made you care this much; that you're helping pets all across US?

Brad: Well, you know, it was one of those - I've always been a life ling pet lover. I had my first dog - I was born and we had cats. And then, my first dog we got when I was six weeks old.

Laura: Wow!

Brad: So, you know, pets have been a part of my life my entire life. And I always actually looked and wanted to. I remember talking to my brother about opportunities and things that we could possibly do with pets. But, it all sounded like it would just be more fun or a hobby rather than a business that could be done.

Laura: Right.

Brad: So, back in 1998, I was loving in Boulder, Colorado. I had just been married and my wife and I moved there. And my cousin introduced me to all natural pet food. I had no idea that it even existed. I thought that a lot of them out there had some fancy names so they must have been good foods. It just really wasn't available. So, I started feeding my pets all natural food and I saw the difference that it was making for them.

Laura: You saw the difference? So, what happened?

Brad: So, they have more vitality. They have less health issues; their skin and coat is better. They mental acuity is better. Just all sorts of things. Basically, what I like to do is think about it in human terms. If you eat well and you eat the way that you're supposed to and take the proper vitamins and eat the proper foods, you're healthier, happier, you have better energy; it completely equates over to the pets.

Laura: It's very true. And we love our pets. We should take care of them. And I have a confession to make. I can't believe I'm telling everyone this but, before the show started, you actually gave me a dog treat.

Brad: I did!

Laura: That I can eat!

Brad: We both ate it, together. Yes!

Laura: We both ate it. I did not wanna eat it, originally. It tastes like a Teddy Graham.

Brad: Yep!

Laura: It has all natural, human ingredients that I would eat. And I can give it to my dog. And, I mean, when you think about it, why would we give them anything else?

Brad: You shouldn't. They should be eating the exact same things that we get so that they can ave a proper health. Unfortunately, in many ways, the old pet food world was built on things that were not really fit for human consumption. And so, that they're able to put it in the pet food now, it's the same foods that go into our tables, into our foods from our shelves in the grocery store, go into these pet foods. And that makes all the difference in the world.

Laura: Well, I'm so glad that you're, sort of, headlining the movement over here in Houston. This is your first store out of two in Houston. Your second one is actually now open.

Brad: Yes it is!

Laura: Recently. And it is in the Tomball/Champions area.

Brad: Yep! It's in the Vintage Marketplace in the Tomball/Champions area. Yes. And very excited to be in Houston. I really do like it.

Laura: Well, congratulations! We're really excited to have you. And, as I mentioned before, you did start this business eight years ago and I love speaking to business owners; that's what we do on "The Businessmakers Show."

Brad: Yep!

Laura: And, something that I read about you which I really loved was that you said, being a business owner and starting your own business, you really have to know who you are and what you stand for; that that's so important in communicating your message. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Brad: I'm a firm believer in one of those - in that, you have to be able to wake up every single morning and wanna do what you do.

Laura: Mm-hmm.

Brad: For me, it could never be a job; it had to be something that I was passionate about, something that I can really sink my teeth into and something that was also, I felt, a positive impact on the world and on society. And I, truly, do believe and know that we are having a positive impact on society.

Laura: And you can see that success. When somebody's passionate -

Brad: Yes.

Laura: - the money follows. You know?

Brad: Yeah! So, I did those. Woke up in the morning and I wasn't happy in my current position and what I was doing and the job that I had. And I said, "Alright. What do I wanna do?" And so, I said, "I love pets. OK. What can I do with pets that's not just gonna be something that's, maybe, a hobby or doing something that wasn't gonna do?"

Laura: Mm-hmm.

Brad: At that time, I had had my first child. And it was important that I had a career and that. So, I really researched into it and I said, "OK. This is something that I can do." And I started off, in Chicago, opening pet care facilities which had the retail component to it which is where I developed the Kriser's out of. So, that was - it was always all natural pet foods and Kriser's just took the pet foods and the grooming aspects of that business - that also included boarding and daycare and walking services and all sorts of different things - and we brought it into here and then, created a different kind of shopping environment.

Laura: And it turned into so much more than a hobby. You also do grooming here.

Brad: Yes.

Laura: I'll have to take my dog to test it out. It looks great.

Brad: Absolutely!

Laura: So, the pet supply business; it's a very niche business to get into. How is that business doing? And how is Kriser's doing on top of that?

Brad: Well, pet - the pet supply and the pet world is, actually, an extraordinarily large business. It's a 58 billion dollar business which is -

Laura: Wow! I don't think a lot of people would know that.

Brad: No; a lot of people don't know that. And so, it's extraordinarily large. And us; we've been doing fantastic. I mean, we're now up to 25 stores in 4 states. 2013, we had 43 percent revenue increase. And, since, our inception, we've had double digit comp sales.

Laura: OK. So, anyone who wants to get into the pet supply business, it might be a good time to start; right now?

Brad: Oh! It's definitely getting a little bit more challenging to be able to do it. It's a different business than it was when I started, even, in it.

Laura: So, you got in at the right time?

Brad: I think so, yes.

Laura: So, you have 25 stores across the US. A lot of food, a lot of toys coming into these stores; how do you pick them all out?

Brad: You know, it's very important what's in here. What I do is, I actually - every single thing that goes on the shelves in here I hand pick and I approve. So, nothing goes on our shelves unless I've, personally, inspected it. And what we do is, we look for it for the quality in there. So, your dog or cat - unless they have an allergy - they can come in here and freely shop for anything because I've already worried about it for you to make sure that it is the highest quality that it can be. And that is from the food to the treats to the supplements to the toys. Everything is looked over and made sure that it is gonna be best for your pet. So, with our consumables and any of the dog and cat food that we have - for example, there's no corn, there's no wheat, no soy, no byproducts, no artificial colorings, preservatives.

Laura: Amazing!

Brad: So, it's different things that make it so that it's "all natural." And really, truly, "all natural" and not just a term that gets loosely used these days.

Laura: Well, it does get loosely used. And we look for those ourselves. We should have it for our dogs. And we have somebody that we can trust who's doing it for us and all we have to do is come to the store.

Brad: And that is exactly what we're here for.

Laura: That's the goal.

Brad: Yeah.

Laura: Cool. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show today, Brad. It was an honor having you.

Brad: Well, thanks for having me.

Laura: And, if any of you wanna shop at Kriser's All Natural Pet Supplies for your dog or cat, you can find Kriser's on Buffalo Speedway and in Vintage - now in Houston, Texas. You're watching The BusinessMakers Show brought to you by Comcast Business; "Built for business" and I'm your host, Laura Max. We'll see you again, next time. Bye, everyone!

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