A Logansport-based dog treat manufacturer is one of several companies chosen to have its products sold on Walmart shelves. Foppers Pet Treat Bakery took part in Walmart’s annual Open Call event, at which hundreds of small businesses and entrepreneurs pitched their products for the chance to sell them in stores. Foppers Chief Executive Officer Michelle Leffert says she was shocked to hear she was selected during the two-day event at Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Leffert says being selected means growing the company more quickly than it had previously anticipated.
"We have to do more investigation and work with Walmart to see exactly what our distribution will be and how fast they will ramp up with that, but that still means that we have to start ramping up at Foppers right away," said Leffert. "We had positioned ourselves for (an) opportunity like this so it’s going to be a matter of also still searching for employees that have our core values and dedication that will come into Foppers and continue to produce quality items."
Leffurt says, while the logistics of the Walmart deal are still being ironed out, the 15-year-old company expects to begin distribution through Walmart in the second quarter of 2020.
In April, the company announced plans to invest more than $1 million into its Cass County operations and add 10 jobs. Leffert says they currently have 25 employees, though it is not clear exactly how many jobs will be added as a result of the Walmart deal. She adds, like other businesses, finding skilled talent has been difficult, especially in the last few years.
"Right now, we have a phenomenal team of employees. They are just phenomenal workers and really care about what we’re doing. We know employees are getting more difficult to find but we are trying to still be selective because we want them to interact and be a positive influence on our current employees. We do have a huge influx of seasonal business, so we will bring in some seasonal employees which also gives us a great foundation to find those select few that we want to continue to keep full-time."
While only a select few were chosen by Walmart to begin selling their products in stores, more than 100 were selected to continue in the open call process. Walmart says those companies will have conversations with a Walmart buyer. It was not clear if any other Indiana companies were included in those selections.
Leffert says being selected means growing the company more quickly than it had previously anticipated.