Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing
Richard Savitt of Prevue Pet Products Inc.
This family-owned business continues to be a force for innovation for the category it has become synonymous with.
Prevue Pet Products Inc., like many companies in the pet industry, is a family affair. Rickard Savitt, president of the company, took over the reins from his father, Murph Savitt, and will be passing those reins along to his son, Jason, at some point in the future.
Even with three generations represented, the company’s history goes back much further, spanning and mirroring the development of the pet industry itself. For a while many companies have been around the pet industry block for many a decade, Prevue Pet Products is the oldest and largest pet products manufacturer in the United States in its category: is premium pet cages. Among these, of course, is the Prevue Hendryx line of birdcages.
The Hendryx brand dates back to 1869. Founded in New Haven, Conn., the company was a major employer in the area into the 1960s.
As an interesting historical tidbit, during times of war – notably the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II – the cage company ceased operations to make munitions. Hendryx is one of the few pet companies that can honestly claim to have helped secure America’s freedom to own pets.
The Savitt family comes into the picture not as cage manufacturers, but as leather manufacturers.
Originally called Reliance Pet Products and based in New York, the family first entered the cage manufacturing and importing business in 1946 after the end of World War II. In 1950, the company sold the plant in Germany they had acquired and moved their manufacturing to Japan.
“We were the first cage makers and imposters out of the Orient,” says Savitt.
As the business grew, the company ended up selling off its leather business and focusing on its line of cages.
” We were a major supplier of cages,” Savitt says. “We worked closely with Max Stern at Hartz Mountain, since they had the birds. In fact, our original business was located in Cooper Square in New York, with us at the end of the block and Hartz at the other.”
The company went public in the 1960s, acquiring other companies in the industry – most notably Prevue Hendryx.
The company moved to Chicago in 1981 and eliminated the name Reliance Pet Products, putting everything under the company name Prevue Metal Products
In 1996, Savitt acquired all of the company’s stock, which is now co-owns with Jason. However, the Hendryx name was kept as the trade name.
“Hendryx is the oldest living faction of the pet industry and is very well recognized in the marketplace,” Savitt says.” It’s a major antique item throughout the world. There’s no way we were going to lose that history (by losing the name).”
An Industry Leader
The company has seen tremendous changes over the years, which is not too surprising since the industry itself has seen such amazing changes. Savitt sees his company as being an integral part of the evolution. “We’ve been a part of that process by being the leader in our category, and we’ve helped caging evolve along the way not only in its functionality but in its style and color and in keeping technology up to date.”
Assisting in this global influence is Leattrice Eiseman, a color specialist, and consultant to other companies (like Rubbermaid) and other industries, such as the automobile industry. She is also on the board of directors for Pantone. “She keeps us 18-24 months ahead of the market as far as colors go,” Savitt says.
“It’s one if the unique things we can offer retailers,” Savitt says. “We offer the store a changeover without the retailer ever having to change the SKU number of the item over. So, when a customer comes in, there’s always a fresh look.”
Retailers are looking for guidance, they’re looking for customer support,” Savitt continues. “We just don’t sell the products, we’re selling the knowledge behind it, we’re selling customer service. We stand responsible for all of our products. We’re different than other companies. If a retailer has a problem, they know to dial us directly. We service our products, we don’t service them through the wholesale distributor. Everything is very hands-on and very customer-oriented.”
With more than 100 employees, Prevue is striving to provide retailers with innovative products that bring new customers to the industry, as well as satisfy the needs of experienced customers who know what they’re looking for in a cage.
“We’re looking to redesign the birdcage through innovative product design,”
Savitt says. “Traditionally you’re looking at square, rectangle, or round cages, and there simply is nothing else other than function in those areas. It’s our job, like with our new Featherstone products, to develop an item that’s attractive – not just to the buyers that own birds already, but to people who are thinking of getting a bird. The Featherstone line is the type of product that will make a person want to buy a bird while giving the store a fresh look.”