The pandemic has wrought so many changes, but thankfully one that has remained constant is the importance of pets in our lives. There’s no better demonstration of that than in the numbers reported in the APPA’s 2020 State of the Industry Report during Global Pet Expo Digital Access. Noting a record $103.6 Billion in sales, I could not help but reflect on where I started in the pet industry decades ago and the fact Global Pet Expo was the last show I attended before the pandemic started. As Steve King, President & CEO of APPA says in his guest interview with me, we all look forward to being together again next year.
To be clear, the second half of my career, 20+ years and counting, has been gladly spent emersed in veterinary medicine creating iconic programs such as “Pets Need Dental Care, Too!” and KNOW Heartworms. My teams and I have launched vaccines and pharmaceuticals, pet insurance and heartworm education programs. Before that I spent a few decades in categories ranging from almost every vertical imaginable – a marketing and communications generalist – from a to z – airline frequent flyer newsletters to celebrity sports talent to real estate development to tech to Zagreb tourism. Stories for another day.
But even before that, the first trade show I went to in college was the H.H. Backer pet trade show in Chicago with my late stepfather C.F. “Dino” Barbarisi. My stepfather was an importer/exporter in the aquatic side of the business, heading up the then U.S. branch office of Ornamental Fish International (OFI). I was hooked. The excitement and glamour of meeting clients and prospects — and all those pet products.
As an agency owner and now editor and publisher, I’ve attended many more trade shows. This itinerant traveler has been to every convention city and Las Vegas so many times I can’t even count, but I never forgot the impact that first show had on me.
Fast forward to the excitement of attending the ever-growing Global Pet Expo the last few years. Unfortunately We aren’t quite there yet. The American Veterinary Medical Association just announced its late summer meeting will again go virtual due to the pandemic. We’ll be sure to connect digitally. We are waiting to hear about other fall conferences.
In the meantime, get vaccinated, Zoom away, reach out and connect online. Hug your pets close and take care of those you can’t hug, but still love to bits. Stay safe and well everyone.