By Denise M. Roberts
Linda Peters found a niche over- looked by the water treatment industry. As most businesses focused on the need for humans to have access to safe, potable water, man’s best friend and other four-legged family members were, more often than not, left out.
PetHouse began as a partnership of sisters in 2007. “I got started in this business out of a need and desire for my own pet, and the pet industry is a fast growing industry,” said Peters. The company name, a combination of the sisters’ surnames (Peters/Newhouse), grew from a discussion of Peter’s dog Misty and her penchant for drinking right from the toilet. The sisters commented they should bottle and sell the water and the idea grew. Why not package clean drinking water for pets, just as people have access to bottled water for themselves? More and more, people travel with their pets, and there is nothing portable that pets can drink from conveniently. Peters wanted a disposable container (similar to a bottle of water) that her dog could lap clean water from when traveling or hiking. She reasoned that, if she wanted something like this, there were probably other pet owners that would as well.
The sisters found a water supplier in Neenah Springs/Great Glacier in Oxford, WI that supplies award-winning natural artesian water. They also engaged Bob Williams, Vice President of Operations with Kemps to package the water in Farmington, MN. Newhouse decided to market to hotels as an amenity, and one hotel asked Peters to create a welcome package for them. The product is now sold, mostly in the form of welcome kits at pet-friendly hotels, all over the US. The welcome kit includes a container of Misty Pure Spring Water, a packet with several treats and a doggie waste-pickup bag. It’s available in a higher-end, paw-print gift bag or basic pink and blue bags that double as waste-pickup bags. “It has become our best-selling product,” Peters said. “Our product is great for any pet-oriented industry that wants to create a good rapport with their pet-loving clients. It’s kind of like getting the dog treat at the bank, or when you go through the drive-thru at Walgreens. It’s just a gift that leaves a good feeling with guests and will bring them back, much like complimentary mints on hotel pillows. A couple of years ago, the University of Missouri tested our water on staff pets and found they preferred it, even more than flavored water. It is just a good way to give our pets the hydration they need to stay healthy.”
PetHouse has been in business for over two years and is certified by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise. Newhouse has since left the company as the marketing partner, leaving Peters as sole proprietor, working out of her home. Her largest concentration of clients is in Florida and Texas. Hotels are her strongest customer base, so she focuses her marketing endeavors accord- ingly. “I’m now researching pet-friendly hotels in Florida and I’ll soon move on to other states where tourists are traveling with their pets,” Peters said.
“I do believe there is a future for our product. I also have a water and food combo pack that is being tested by a take-out restaurant called Watcha Have in Egg Harbor, in Door County, WI. It consists of a container of water and a container with a cup of dry pet food put together like the popular yogurt containers with the little cup of crunchies on top. Again it’s a single-serving concept with the traveler in mind.” Peters has reason to maintain a positive outlook.