From frustration to billions: How, after some sisappointments, the Manfrim family founded Special Dog Company
In the last year, the pet market moved more than R $ 40 billion in Brazilian territory and grew 13.5% compared to 2019. The data are from the Pet Brazil Institute, which considers the trade of food and veterinary products as the main responsible for the success of the sector. Priscila Manfrim, managing director of Special Dog Company, experienced the promising scenario of pet supplies up close: in 2020, the company registered, for the first time, R $ 1 billion in revenue.
The Manfrim family: behind, from left to right, Thiago Manfrim, Marcos Tavares and Gabriel L. R. Manfrim. In front, from left to right, Priscila Manfrim Tavares, Mário S. Manfrim, Erik Manfrim, Natália Manfrim and Juliana Manfrim.
Given the reality in which we live, with the Covid-19 pandemic and social isolation, which affected various sectors of the economy, the figures are surprising. However, the top of the segment makes a lot of sense. With almost 142 million pets, Brazil is now the third country in the ranking of consumption of pet products, only behind the United States and China. And, during confinement, a period when people spend many more hours at home, the attachment to pets has only grown, a trend that promises to continue for years to come. According to data from the Euromonitor consultancy, the expectation is that, by 2025, the pet market will expand by 42.7% in Brazil.
For those who have invested in the sector, the projections are received with enthusiasm. Priscila, who grew up with the Special Dog Company, a family business, is proud of the vision that her father and her uncles had back in 2001. 'At that point, they already saw that this was a growing segment. As they were of extreme urgency to support their family, they decided to dive into the business ', says the executive. The decision was not the luck of a beginner, in fact the family had already tried several times, without success.
"My grandfather, in 1967, created the Manfrim Group, which operated in the production of items such as coffee, rice, cereals and flours," she reveals. 'The attempt did not work, but the final straw was the development of a rice syrup that would be the raw material for a brewery. At that time, my father and uncle were already in the operation and they talk about how frustrating the deal was." After 36 months of trying, the family decided to close the doors and try another sector. The entrepreneurs learned that the Pet market had great possibilities to grow.
Concerned about supporting their children and with nothing else to lose In childhood and adolescence, Priscila accompanied the growth of the brand, which finally led the family to success in business. "We had lack of experience and technical knowledge at the time, but we were growing with the market, in a process of trial and error. Trying of doing it well and not too bad, of course", he says with good humor. "This is a motto that we still carry today, even after 20 years of history. Perhaps it is the reason for the turnover of R $ 1 billion or, perhaps, it happened thanks to the balance of our main pillars: the relationship with partners, employees and customers ".
Founded in the city of Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, in the interior of São Paulo, the Special Dog Company started with a small plant for the manufacture of food for dogs and cats. With the growth of the brand, consumer demand began to demand greater and more efficient production, prompting the founders to invest in a much larger space. Currently, the company's headquarters have four dry food factories and one wet food factory, the latter opened only in 2019, after an investment of R $ 80 million.
As part of the expansion plan, the company also invested in a distribution center in Curitiba (PR), which helps in the process of delivering products in the south of the country. 'Paraná is our second main market, behind São Paulo. We invested approximately R $ 12 million in the CD ', says Priscila. All this so that the storage capacity reaches 1,500 tonnes.er, they decided to go ahead.
The goal is not an exaggeration. Although the brand has yet to be delivered throughout Brazil, operating in only seven states and the Federal District, the export potential requires high production and storage. 'Since 2015 we have been selling our dry products to countries such as the United States, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Bolivia and Chile. Last month we began to export wet products, starting with Latin America '. The effort of the team, which already has 1,500 employees, is remarkable, but Priscila highlights the importance of good leadership to achieve positive results.
Responsibility and Purpose
According to Priscila, Brazil currently has 170 pet food manufacturers operating in its territory. In the midst of so much competition, especially in an environment of rapid growth, the secret to standing out, for her, is never to be satisfied. 'We need to offer good service, quality products and constant improvements. Concern for our production chain, for example, is a differential. It is our logistics team that delivers the products, which is reflected in the quality of the service provided, 'she says.
For the executive, delivering in just seven states with excellence is better than serving all of Brazil in a disorganized way. "Little by little, we are evolving and automating our processes." After two decades, haste is not part of the essence of the company. 'We are a family business. We have an extra feeling when we want to evolve the business. It is a mixture of responsibility and purpose for us to be faithful to the values that we have had from the beginning '.
In a way, it is easier to convey the essence in a company in a small country, with only 50 employees, than in a large corporation, with a large staff. And that's why Priscila says that patience is part of her way of leading. "We want our first distribution center to be an extension of our industrial park, a part of our family," he highlights, revealing that employee appreciation is one of the main pillars of the company, responsible for the Great Place to Work award. won in 2019.
Priscila, who started working at the company in 2017 as an intern, values her first professional experience positively. 'I was very young, but I remember how difficult it was for members of my family to create the company. Now I know that seeing it up close has been an enriching experience. It is not something that has worked for two full decades, but it is a business that continues," she concludes.