Portland Pet Food Company (PPFC), founded by Katie and David McCarron, is a global manufacturer of human-grade dog meals and treats focused on local ingredients and sustainability. They want to help your dog live the best life it can for as long as it can!
Before launching PPFC, Katie worked in healthcare administration, education, and business development. They both have an extensive professional background in the healthcare industry. Katie and David's first family-owned business, Academic Network LLC, provided educational programs for international food and pharmaceutical companies. As president and CEO, Katie educated medical advisory consultants on how to speak with consumers about nutrition. In 2008, Katie and David sold Academic Network, and she focused on engaging with women-owned business organizations and support activities. David became a private consultant specializing in the Food Industry.
PPFC all started when our sweet poodle, Rosie, was struggling to eat, and we couldn’t find anything that she liked or, honestly, that we felt good about feeding her. We had Rosie for nearly 14 years, so we refused to give up on her. Instead, we started researching dog nutritional needs and cooking for her at home, which is how PPFC started! Today, using the same recipes I developed for Rosie, PPFC provides dogs across the USA, Canada, and Japan with products free of preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients. With an emphasis on local sourcing and sustainability, PPFC’s mission is to provide dogs with the same quality food that their humans eat. We continue to run the business together as a family -- I handle CEO functions, and David handles investor relations.
My husband, David, and I didn’t plan on working together in either of the businesses we’ve started! With our first business, Academic Network, we both worked at the University Hospital and had the opportunity to collaborate. With Portland Pet Food Company, we just both felt passionate about the need for better dog food.
We’ve been lucky in that all of our children have contributed to the business. Our oldest sons now have their own careers and contribute in their unique ways. For example, one is a commercial real estate manager and paved the way for our new baking facility when we desperately needed to expand. Additionally, having had their own children now, they have helped by simply understanding when we aren’t able to help with grandkids as much as a typical grandparent may be able to. Hopefully someday!
Our two youngest children have been heavily involved in the business from the start, as they were the ones who had to sit through hours of dinner conversations when we were initially forming the idea. Matt, who is in medical school, has been crucial in developing new recipes, and Maggie works full-time as Portland Pet Food Company’s Brand and Customer Experience Specialist.
At this point, we’ve worked together for over 30 years, so there aren’t too many surprises! It’s been rewarding to see how late in our careers that we can adapt to new business and are open to learning, though. David loves to engage in lengthy discussions and make decisions quickly, while I prefer to listen and have a discovery period before making a final decision. He is much more outgoing, and I am quieter. The most important thing is to have open discussions about your different management and decision-making styles, respecting any differences and using them to your advantage.
Though we don’t do this often enough, we try to get out occasionally and unwind. Our favorite activities have to be attending local sporting events or traveling. However, the reality is that we don’t really ever turn work off, but that’s how we like it! Owning a business is definitely not a 9-5 position, but neither of us would enjoy that routine anyhow. If you’re fortunate enough to create a living doing something that you truly enjoy, there’s no exact line separating work and play; it’s just one. That’s more fun anyhow!
For other dog parents, I would recommend they start by simply understanding how pet food labeling works. Not all kibble is bad, and not all wet food is good. So when it comes to feeding your dog, the most important thing is understanding what ingredients you’re giving them. Is it an ingredient you recognize and can pronounce, like chicken, beef, or grain? If not, why would you give it to your dog in their dog biscuits?
In terms of owning a business and raising a family, it's never a straight path. Be prepared to compromise and respect your choices. Enjoy the detours and be kind to yourself! Being an entrepreneur and a parent is awesome.
You can find us on all major social media channels! Just search @portlandpetfood.