How this entrepreneur’s Akita inspired a passion for animal nutrition — and a company for holistic pet products.
Jerry Williams likes being asked why he started a holistic pet products distribution company. “I’ve shared the answer many times and am always happy to do so, as my intent has been the same from day one – to make available only the foods and products I personally believe in.”
His journey to becoming president of Holistic Pet Source, Inc. (www.holisticpetsource.com) started way back in 1983, when he got his first Akita. Jerry wanted to feed Kyoto the best possible food he could find, but unfortunately, this was back in what he calls the “The Dark Ages” of pet food.
“The major brands were formulated using ‘science’ to theoretically create a mixture that would sustain the lives of animals while using ingredients rejected from human food suppliers,” he says. “This practice still exists today, but during the 1980s, information was not readily available and high quality pet food choices were almost nonexistent.”
Like many others, Jerry assumed the costliest pet foods had to be the best, so he always purchased the most expensive foods for Kyoto. “As I later discovered, I was the victim of very successful marketing,” he says ruefully. Despite his apparent investment in his dog’s well being, Kyoto developed health problems. Jerry realized it was because he’d been feeding his companion inferior commercial foods. “The challenge for me was figuring this out,” he says. “It took years, and the many veterinarians I visited were as clueless as I was.”
Then he discovered a pioneer in natural pet food. “The accompanying information linking many harmful ingredients to animal illness sparked an epiphany as I immediately realized the source of Kyoto’s maladies,” Jerry says. “I ordered a bag of this food from the closest supplier in Indiana and viola – Kyoto began to improve within a week.”
Inspired, Jerry developed a keen interest in animal nutrition. “I soon realized that a lot of animals were suffering with illnesses that included skin allergies, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. All these can be attributed to poor nutrition and toxic food ingredients.”
Armed with this knowledge, Jerry transformed his passion into a business. “Soon I was selling natural pet food out of my home and delivering in my Toyota pickup,” he says. “I started Holistic Pet Source in 1996. We were the first and remain the only distributor in the southeastern US committed solely to natural pet foods and products. Although our product assortment and distribution reach has grown considerably, our mission – to provide the best quality natural pet foods, treats, toys, topical products and supplements available – has remained unchanged.”
Jerry and his staff encourage animal guardians and pet store owners to be proactive when sourcing products for companion animals. “Read, ask questions, and don’t take anything at face value,” he advises. “We live in an era where illness is very prevalent. The tendency for many people is to forget that illness does not occur in a vacuum, so look for the reason! The natural state of the dog, cat or human body is radiant health, providing that proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are in place. Knowledge is empowerment, and as consumer and retailers become wiser, the bar is continually pushed higher by manufacturers.
When Jerry looks back to when he had Kyoto, he wonders how he could have missed what now seems so obvious to him. “But I stayed inquisitive and was led down a path where I was able to help Kyoto; and through our company and its knowledgeable, compassionate staff, we have positively affected the lives of literally thousands of animals. There is so much truth to this quote: ‘The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison’.”