Every year, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) hosts the Top2Top Conference, an opportunity for some of the pet industry’s most involved and high powered people to come together and discuss the future of the industry. From APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere to California Congressman Dennis Cardoza, everyone with a concern for the pet industry convened in Amelia Island, Fla., for a chance to join in on the discussion.
With sponsors like PetCo, Purina, and major trade publications, this industry-strengthening event is nothing to scoff at. Perhaps one of the highlights of the event was the award presentation by Laura Nativo, host of Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” segment. With eight recipients across eight admirable categories, our own Bob Vetere received the Chairman’s Award of Excellence for his tremendous leadership in aligning industry goals and creating initiatives to see those goals come to fruition. He was truly honored by the recognition, as were the other seven recipients:
Marcie Whichard, VP of Animal Care & Education at PetCo, received Pet Advocate of the Year for her Think Adoption First program development, which manages 3,500 adoption partner relationships to help homeless pets find their loving forever home.
Chris Buener, President of Quality Marine, was dubbed Program Innovator of the Year for his development of a certification program for overseas fish collectors, collection areas, and exporters.
Tom Edling, VP of Veterinary Medicine at PetCo, is PIJAC’s Ambassador of the Year for not only overseeing the care of over 200,000 pets at PetCo, but also for heading PIJAC’s Zoonoses Committee, which provides health and care information to the industry and public to thwart transmission of diseases between species.
Doug Poindexter, President of World Pet Association, was named Pet Industry Leader of the Year for his creation of the Aquatic Experience show, serving on multiple pet industry boards, and growing the World Pet Association to being the producer of one of the top tradeshows in the country. His initiatives have allowed him to donate millions of dollars to industry-related causes such as Pet Care Trust and the Coral Reef Foundation.
CFO of World Pet Association, Jim Boschee, was given the Presidential Award of Excellence for his instrumental role as head of the PIJAC Membership Development Committee, which ensures every member of the pet industry has a voice in every level of legislation.
Bill Brant, President of The Gourmet Rodent, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his passion and devotion toward reptiles. His work on behalf of the reptile industry has been exemplary and will benefit reptiles and their owners for years to come.
Nestle Purina Petcare won the Pet Effect Award for showcasing the positive effect that the pet industry and pets have on one another, the epitome of PIJAC’s Pet Effect program. Having invested $30 million in pet welfare and helping nearly 2.2 million pet welfare organizations, more than half-million cats and dogs found homes through its Rally to the Rescue network.
This year’s Top2Top Conference was another notable success, as initiatives, goals, and strengthening within the industry continue throughout the year to contribute to next year’s rousing discussion!