Stacy LaPoint isnít barking up the wrong tree in her business by
producing a quality, raw, grain-free, natural pet food. Her dream was
to make the product available to pet owners interested in using diet
and nutrition to improve and maintain their animalís health.
As a confirmed pet lover, LaPoint launched her firm when her
6-year-old German shepherd, Jade, was stricken with Addisonís
disease, an adrenal gland failure. To relieve the suffering of her
furry pal, LaPoint began researching how nutrition could affect the
dogís health and longevity.
She read some existing pet food recipes, then made her own for Jadeís
meals before branching out to friends and family. It wasnít long
before she had a waiting list for her doggie-licious preparations.
Partnering with friend Bill Conroy, LaPoint then started Companion
Natural Pet Food. She tapped the expertise of Dr. Keith Cummins, a
noted animal nutritionist at Auburn University, to develop product
that met the standards of the Association of Animal Feed Control
In their two-person operation, LaPoint is president and product
developer, while Conroy acts as financial officer and handles area
deliveries. They recently qualified for a Small Business
Administration education program that helps urban firms stay viable
and expand. Their manufacturing plant is located on National Avenue,
turning out about 100,000 pounds of product each year.
"A diet including raw whole foods, served in variation over
time, will help give your pet a healthy immune system, as well as
healthy bones, teeth, coat and skin," LaPoint explains. That,
with plenty of exercise and sunshine, helps pets avoid numerous
diseases and digestive disorders, she says. The use of cooked grains
and food industry by-products for commercial pet food began to be
marketed about 50 years ago, being touted for the convenience of the
animalsí owners, she says.
Her ingredients include real chicken, turkey, beef, duck and fish,
along with vitamins and some vegetables such as yams, apples, collard
greens and parsnips, depending on whether the food is for dogs or
Locally, her food is sold at The Natural Pet in Bay View, Janís
Grooming in Brookfield, the Riverwest Co-op, and other area outlets,
as well as throughout the Midwest, Massuschetts and Kentucky. More
outlets are coming in regularly. "Am I a pet food mogul?"
LaPoint, 37, laughs. "Not by a long shot. Iím just a pet
advocate and entrepreneur."