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Florida SBDC at FAU Client wins retailer of the year award

Barbara and Howard Ratner

In June 2018, Barbara and Howard Ratner were looking to expand both the domestic and international footprint of Holistic Pet Cuisine LLC and asked for assistance in developing a strategic plan to do just that. The Ratners met with a co-consultant team from the Florida SBDC at Florida Atlantic University and the U.S. Department of Commerce in their Boca Raton, Florida retail store that specializes in developing, retailing and distributing healthy, nutritious pet food, snacks and supplements.

Holistic Pet Cuisine has been in the all-natural and holistic pet food industry since 2007. Client testimonials on Holistic Pet Cuisine, which number in the many dozens, recognize the passion and knowledge that Barbara shares with her customers to help them improve the health and well-being of their beloved pets. Barbara offers nutritional advice to her customers and the store specializes in both name-brand and private label products that are healthy, organic and come in non-toxic recycled packaging. Their products contain no corn, wheat, soy or gluten which appeals to pet owners that have pets with sensitivity issues. Holistic Pet Cuisine also created their own line of dog treat called K9 Crisps, made from 100% U.S.-sourced chicken tenderloin.

Since the working with the Florida SBDC at FAU, the company has hired three additional employees, increased sales by 12 percent and was named the winner of the 2019 Retailer Excellence Award at the Pet Business Global Pet Expo in Orlando Florida in March. At the show, Holistic Pet Cuisine was approached by several international pet food distributors in Germany, Spain and Lichtenstein. The Ratner's have relied on both the Florida SBDC and the local U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) to provide assistance in complying with international regulations, vetting the best distribution companies to move forward with, and being competitive in the global market.

With the continued support from the Florida SBDC at FAU and the Commercial Service, the couple now plans to implement a more focused approach in the global market to minimize risk and determine where the highest international market potential is for their products. Holistic Pet Cuisine will be utilizing specialized trade programs, such as the Gold Key Service, to set up appointments overseas with qualified partners as well as participate international trade events.

"While expanding our footprint and growing our business, not only in the USA, but globally, we couldn't have asked for two better team members than Florida SBDC at FAU Consultant Debbie Lanford and Miguel Olivares, Senior International Trade Specialist of the U.S. Department of Commerce," said Mr. Ratner. "It's very rare to get the opportunity to be around two professionals that have our best interests at hand."