Denver Business Journal

Posted on December 24, 2010

Dogfood-maker shows raw determination to succeed

Jim Adams saw the value of putting quality, hormone-free ingredients into food when he worked as executive director of marketing at Chipotle Mexican Grill until November 2008.

So about a year ago, he pondered, “What if I brought Chipotle’s philosophy regarding food to dog food?”

Thus Redbud’s Raw Premium Dog Food was born.

The dog food contains raw, farm-fresh ingredients with no additives. It comes in two flavors: antibiotic-free chicken, which costs $10.99 per 2-pound bag, and hormone-free beef, $12.99 per 2-pound bag.

“When I was working with Chipotle, I met a lot of farmers that were raising animals and food in a way that I thought was very responsible,” Adams said. “I just applied that thinking to the ingredients in dog food, and I wanted it to be a simple food that meets the dog’s nutrition needs without being complicated.”

Adams, 44, said he got positive responses from customers when he took his dog food to the Cherry Creek farmer’s market in June. He stayed through the summer and sold about 400 pounds of dog food there.

“The most fulfilling response I got was when a customer I sold to came back and told me their dog had been a very picky eater, but said it was going crazy for this food,” Adams said. “They told me the dog refuses to eat anything else now.”

Adams said it’s the only raw dog food in Colorado. In the Denver area, it’s sold at Two Pals & A Pup, Belleview Animal Clinic, Chewy’s, Pet Outfitters, Mouthfuls Pet Bar, Woofs ’N Hoofs, Marczyk Fine Foods, Doggie Pause, and Canine Rehab and Conditioning Group.

Adams acknowledges his product is more expensive than regular dog food. So he targets customers who see the value in feeding their dog a raw diet.

He cites benefits such as proper weight maintenance, a stronger immune system, fresher breath, whiter teeth, a more luxurious-looking coat and improved alertness.

“The ideal customer for us is someone who knows about the benefits of raw dog food and understands it’s a better way to feed your dog,” he said. “Plus in the long run, I believe you will save money on vet bills by feeding your dog a raw diet instead of the normal Kibbles.”

The benefits of his product were evident to Adams himself when he started feeding it to a dachshund dog he adopted when it was 2 years old.

“When we first got our dachshund, Anna, she was overweight, her coat was ugly and her energy levels were down,” Adams said. “So I put her on a raw diet. After about a month, she started to look beautiful. Her coat looks fantastic, her eyes look better and she has as high of an energy level as she’s ever had since we got her.”

Redbud’s has to be kept refrigerated. If frozen, it can last up to six months, Adams said.

“If you have a smaller — say, 15-pound dog — you only need to feed it about 4 ounces a day,” he said. “So in that case, it can last around six months. Obviously if you have a bigger dog, you have to feed it more, so the package won’t last as long.”

So far Adams has run his business by himself and has relied on word of mouth to market his product, but he has plans to market it more aggressively.

“We want to take a real grassroots approach to marketing this,” he said. “PR is part of that and so is being involved in community dog activities and shows, and just whatever we can do to get our brand out there.”

Adams said his strategy is to sell his product in upscale specialty markets, as well as to veterinarians and pet boutiques.

“Since this is a high-end product, we want it to be placed appropriately,” he said.

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