Many in central Connecticut have also become regular customers of the company’s Oma’s Pride, a complete line of natural raw pet food developed by the company at the turn of the century, and O’Paws freeze-dried pet food and treats.
What locals may not know, however, is that Oma’s Pride and O’Paws products are distributed nationwide in 47 states, and family members often travel the country to present raw feeding seminars. The freeze-dried line has even gone global.
“We’ve been exporting to Hong Kong since 2009 and plans are in process for the United Kingdom,” said third generation family member Camlyn Miller-Stevens, vice president of finance.
Now that they’re expanding within the international marketplace, the family owners decided it was time to participate in worldwide pet exhibitions, which they did this spring.
For the first time, Oma’s Pride was represented at three international shows: the American Pet Products Association’s Global Pet Expo in Orlando; The International Cat Association’s World Cat Congress in Miami; and the Kennel Club’s Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, in Birmingham, England.
“We received a five star rating for our freeze-dried food at Crufts,” Miller Foods Inc. President Sandi Trudeau said.
She traveled there with her brother-in-law Sam Stevens, the company’s chief financial officer, niece Taryn Miller-Stevens and grandson Nicholas DeJulius, the family’s business development duo.
“They did the marketing and we lined up some distributors for when our food is available in Europe,” Trudeau said.
They also learned that Europe is way ahead of the United States in manufacturing natural raw pet food, which their veterinarians approve of, she said.
Locally, Miller Foods was ahead of the curve 15 years ago when the company developed its all-natural Oma's Pride. The raw blends include fresh-frozen ground meat/bone products and fresh, quick blanched, then flash frozen vegetables, a process that breaks down the extremely hard to digest initial cellulose layer, kills any bacteria, and allows the animal to absorb the maximum of nutrients.
The products are manufactured in and distributed from the company’s USDA-inspected facility in Avon.
“Our slogan is, ‘Made Locally, Distributed Globally,” Miller-Stevens said.
She and her mother, Chief Executive Officer Carolyn (Cal) Miller-Stevens, attended both the World Cat Congress and the Global Pet Expo, and they received positive feedback at each venue.
“People were impressed with our products, that there are no additives or fillers,” Miller-Stevens said, referring to O’Paws freeze-dried foods, which are produced using patented technology, retaining all the nutrients found in Oma’s Pride raw food. The dehydrated products are 100 percent all natural with no chemicals, byproducts or fillers.
She said their experiences at all three shows were positive.
“We gained a lot of exposure with American retailers and distributors we didn’t know before,” Miller-Stevens said. “Everyone brought something different to the table.”
Since they are moving in a more global direction, the presence of international pet vendors at the shows was invaluable, she said.
“We received some good leads we can follow up on for future business development both within the U.S. and around the world,” Miller-Stevens said.
“Participating in these international events has helped with our plans to expand,” said Capri Frank, vice president of sales & marketing. “We met six qualified international buyers at the Global Pet Expo.”
Frank’s mother, Trudeau, and aunt, Cal Miller-Stevens, inherited the business from their parents. They are majority owners and principals of the corporation, and three third-generation family members joined them as owners and operators. Besides Frank and Camlyn Miller-Stevens, the third is Tanner Miller-Stevens, vice president of operations. There are now a total of 10 family members involved with the business.
“We’re so grateful to the local community for supporting us the past 42 years,” Frank said. “From our roots as a chicken and egg farm, we’re fortunate that as a fourth generation family business we’re now an international company. As my Aunt Cal often says, ‘We’re just a pinpoint on the map in Avon, Connecticut yet we’re known in Hong Kong.’ That’s awesome.”