Sometimes a great idea for a new packaged product is just the beginning of the challenge. That’s certainly true of the origin of Team Treatz, Inc.—a California-based, woman–owned business that was started in January 2016.
Entrepreneurs Kim Kolodzi and Ginny Bischel, DVM, together envisioned the creation of a dog snack that would appeal to dog lovers and sports fans, while benefiting dogs’ teeth and gums. The treats are USA–made with what are described as wholesome, quality ingredients.
Since Kolodzi has experience in licensed products, and Bischel is a veterinarian, a sports-related pet product seemed like a natural choice. The idea of football– and baseball–shaped logo dog treats was born.
Team Treatz currently designs and manufactures 7 oz. bags of NFL, MLB, NCAA and NBA licensed dental dog treats. The treats themselves are uniquely shaped, 2-in. domed and textured footballs, and basketballs, with detailed embossed team logos in the center of each treat. The treats are featured in individual team stores, online at Bed Bath & Beyond and Petco, and on the East Coast at select grocery retailers.
While the basic idea for the product came together relatively quickly, the founders discovered that the “devil is in the details.” They had made the commitment to use only American ingredients, labor, manufacturing, and packaging for their treats. That turned out not to be as easy as they first imagined.
A peggable standup pouch was the pair’s packaging preference from the beginning. “Most dog treats are in pouches, and we didn’t want our product to look gimmicky,” said Kolodzi. But where to source those pouches?
As Kolodzi later recalled, it didn’t make sense to pay strict attention to using only American ingredients and manufacturing “and then buy pouches from China.”
“We were also concerned about not knowing the exact structure of the pouch and printing, and the chance of having something transfer from the packaging material that could compromise the treats,” she said. “We didn’t want to take any chances.”
The multilayer custom flexible packaging for Team Treatz are supplied by ePac , and manufactured at the converter’s Middleton, WI plant. A clear window on the front of the pouch allows consumers to see the treats inside. Easy opening and a press-to-reclose feature adds convenience for the consumer. The pouch graphics feature individual team logos as well as the logos of the leagues.
ePac’s short-run expertise, quick changes, and multiple facilities also came in handy for the new entrepreneurs. “First, we were dealing with multiple sports, multiple teams, etc. so short runs with quick changeover was essential,” said Kolodzi. “Then, we had situations where, for instance, a particular state had its own regulations for packaging dog treats, related to wording, calorie counts, etc. Without ePac’s ability to quickly make the changes to the pouches, we would have lost out on a lot of business.”
As the company prepares to add other sports leagues and teams, and also expand sales into Canada in 2018, Kolodzi reflected on their efforts to deliver on the promise of Team Treatz.
“Ginny has been a veterinarian for 30 years, and I have been in the sports licensed product industry for 16 years, and a navy wife for 10 years,” said Kolodzi. “We are committed to providing a palatable product, 100% made in the USA with USA ingredients. We want to stand out as a strong, unique and caring brand. We have only just begun.”