New England Serum Hopes New Name Gives It an Edge

Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But you can give an old pet supplies catalog a new name. And that’s exactly what Topsfield, MA-based pet supplies cataloger New England Serum Co. has done. With its fall catalog, the company has changed its name to PetEdge. Simply put, “our new name more aptly describes the scope of the business,” says president Andy Katz.

“When my father founded the company in 1956, the name was fitting because the company served the needs of local dairy farmers and their livestock with vaccines and serums,” explains Katz, who has served as president since 1995. “Today, we don’t sell any serum.”

New England Serum began selling pet care products to professional groomers and kennel owners in 1980. And though PetEdge is primarily a business-to-business company, it does compete with retailers such as Wal-Mart and Petco for its share of the pet supplies market. Washington-based industry organization Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council estimates the total U.S. market for pet food and supplies is $25 billion.

“Many of our business customers don’t have business names associated with them,” Katz says. “We sell to many people who may be part-time groomers or who breed a few litters of puppies each year. So there are many consumer names on our file. It is more like a continuum than an absolute b-to-b arrangement.”

To alert its more than 125,000 12-month buyers of the name change, both the New England Serum and the PetEdge logos will grace initial catalog covers. PetEdge will also mail catalogs with special wraps and send letters to customers highlighting its name change. And the company is launching an ad campaign in veterinary and other pet-related trade magazines.

To coincide with the name change, PetEdge is also unveiling a new Website with several enhancements that make it easier for customers wanting to reorder. The site, which went live last month, has added features such as comparison charts of related merchandise.

A doggone good year

The name change comes as the company enjoys what Katz says is one of its best years ever. Sales for the first six months were up 25% from the previous year, and the average order size has increased to approximately $200.

Katz attributes the increase to expansions in the company’s product line, which encompasses roughly 10,000 items. “We have always offered pet apparel and pet beds, but we have just recently launched our exclusive brands in these categories. Casual Canine is our apparel brand, and Slumber Pet is our bed brand,” he says. “This fall/holiday season will see increases in the breadth of offerings in these lines and others.” Katz has also increased circulation of the fall book 10% from last year.

With a booming business and a redesigned Website, Katz is banking that PetEdge won’t lose customers because of the name change. “Our biggest concern is that people know it’s us,” he says. “The only thing that’s changing is our name.”