Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce Honors Lanny Viegut, CEO and Owner, with 2017 Growth Award
GREEN BAY, WI (October 27, 2017) – When Lanny Viegut graduated with a Food Science and Technology degree from the University of Wisconsin River Falls, owning his own company was merely an aspiration. Now, 27 years later, he is the owner and CEO of one of the most innovative pet food manufacturing companies in the world – Carnivore Meat Company.
Viegut spent the first 15 years of his career in the meat processing industry working for Green Bay based companies such as Packerland Packing Company, American Food Group and Anamax in various positions from management to sales.
In 2006, Viegut took a foray into entrepreneurship and co-founded his first company, Exponentia, which focused on sales and leadership development, setting the stage for a much larger opportunity in the near future.
And, that opportunity came calling in 2009 when Green Bay Pet Food Company contacted Viegut seeking his help in turning around their failing business. “They had a great product, but the company was in need of a resurrection,” said Viegut.
When Viegut joined Green Bay Pet Food Company as CEO, its annual sales were less than $1 million and there were only seven employees. “The first challenge was to create a retail brand with a stronger product line,” Viegut said.
Thus a new brand was born – Vital Essentials®. In July 2009, the Vital Essentials® raw dog food line was launched at Super Zoo, an international industry trade show. “The introduction was a huge success and groundbreaking in our category,” commented Viegut.
Over the next few years, the brand grew and achieved broad national distribution, requiring an increase in production capacity. “By 2011 we were growing at a pace that required significant changes, most notably in our ability to meet demand,” Viegut remarked. “We moved to our current facility at 2878 Ontario Road in Bellevue. This allowed us to expand with 4,000 square feet in office space and 20,000 square feet in production space.”
As the business improved and product adoption grew, the company became an attractive investment for Viegut. He and his wife, Cheryl, purchased the assets of the business and established Carnivore Meat Company in 2012.
The pace of business only accelerated from there. In 2013, Carnivore Meat Company acquired USDA Certification, making it the first pet food company in the U.S. to earn this certification. The company’s dedication to quality didn’t stop there! In December 2015, Carnivore Meat Company earned the GFSI-FSSC 22000 (ISO) Certification for the manufacture of frozen and freeze-dried pet food, and in March 2016, they received the EU Certification. Today, Carnivore Meat Company is the only pet food manufacturer in the world to hold these three quality certifications.
Alongside operational improvements and growth, product line extensions and new raw pet food innovations occurred at a record breaking pace. Raw frozen chubs and the first set of freeze-dried treats for dogs launched in 2014. These products set the stage for subsequent product rollouts in response to increased pet health awareness.
In 2015, Vital Cat™ was introduced with 7 freeze-dried treats, including the award winning freeze-dried minnow treats and was expanded a year later with frozen and freeze-dried entrees.
Vital Essentials® branded products also expanded to international markets starting with exports to Hong Kong and China in 2015. International sales have steadily increased since that time with the addition of exports to Japan, Korea, Panama, Taiwan, Switzerland and Canada.
Today, there are more than 100 frozen and freeze-dried items under the Vital Essentials® and Vital Cat™ brands produced by Carnivore Meat Company that are available in nearly 5,000 pet specialty retailers across the nation. The company also has co-packing and private label manufacturing capabilities.
Supporting this level of growth is no small feat. “We nearly doubled our employee base in 2016, adding much needed manpower to our production team along with some key positions in the front office,” said Viegut. “Sales followed a similar trajectory, allowing us to expand our network of distributors.”
This year saw the addition of a 20,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center on Henry Street that includes a 90,000 cubic foot freezer, which will support Carnivore Meat Company’s 60 percent projected growth rate for 2018.
In recognition of Carnivore Meat Company’s phenomenal growth over the past few years, the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce presented its Growth Award to the company in June 2017. “In just a very short amount of time, we established the company and manufacture some of the most innovative products in the pet industry today,” commented Viegut. “And, we’re just getting started!”
About Carnivore Meat Company
Carnivore Meat Company, the nation’s leading private label provider of premium freeze-dried pet food and pet treats, is the most tenured RAW pet food producer in the nation, providing RAW pet nutrition since 1968. The family owned company located in Green Bay, WI, manufactures high quality RAW frozen and freeze-dried pet food, snacks and treats. Sourced, made and packaged in the USA. Carnivore Meat Company provides pets the opportunity to lead long, vibrant, healthy lives, just as they deserve.