Published on NBC Petside.com on June 21, 2013
Based in Bozeman, Montana, West Paw Design is the country’s longest running, eco-friendly pet products company. When companies were going overseas to manufacture products, Spencer Williams, President of West Paw Design, was determined to keep manufacturing in the USA. A fifth-generation Montanan and animal lover, Spencer also wanted to create products that are safe for the planet and pets.
Spencer’s love for stray cats and mixed-breed dogs inspired him to start his own company at the age of 23. He purchased Pet Pals, a sewn plush cat toy manufacturer in Montana in 1996 and turned it into West Paw Design. Now, the company has 63 employees who design and craft pet products from hemp beds to high-quality apparel made from recycled materials. The products are sold in more than 25 countries.
To West Paw Design, it’s about people, our planet and the well-being of our companion animals. “We have employed over 154 people in the last 16 years at our facility in Bozeman. That’s 154 who were paid a fair wage so they can buy houses, cars, support their families, send kids to college, etc.,” said Spencer. The company partners with local vendors, and sources raw materials from domestic suppliers to benefit the entire community and reduce the carbon footprint. The products are made from safe recyclable, sustainable and organic materials.
One of the most impressive aspects of the company is that over the years, it has kept 8.2 million plastic bottles out of landfills. Dog and cat beds and stuffed fabric toys are filled with soft IntelliLoft fiber that is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Using IntelliLoft material uses up to eight times less energy than new materials. The ReKnitz dog sweaters are made from reclaimed cotton from crops already grown and harvested that would otherwise go to waste. West Paw also uses hemp, a naturally durable and renewable resource, in their new Hemp Bed collection.
West Paw Design’s products are non-toxic and durable. “When customers buy toys that their dog or cat can’t destroy quickly, fewer toys will go into the landfill,” Spencer said. By manufacturing in the US, the company ensures the safety and quality of the products. The company’s new Black Hurley dog toy is made from previously not-reusable Zogoflex toy materials. “I like these toys because they are latex, BPA and phthalate-free, FDA compliant and non-toxic. More importantly, dogs love these toys, they’re extremely durable and keep them entertained and engaged for hours at a time” said Spencer.
The company also stays green by using scrap materials to create new pet toys, and utilizing reclaimed and reused banana boxes to store finished goods rather than plastic.
In keeping with its eco-friendly values, the company recently expanded and renovated its headquarters in Bozeman to be more energy efficient. The expansion reused modular panel walls that were part of the original construction instead of sending tons of steel and concrete to the scrap pile.
Spencer said he is proud of his company’s core values and environmentally sound practices. “Succeeding as a manufacturer in the US at a time when many, if not most manufacturers go overseas, validated our business model,” he said. “We won’t stop until we have succeeded in being the best in the marketplace while also being environmentally-friendly.”
Spencer Williams lives only a few minutes from West Paw’s building with his family, along with a rescued mutt named Buster.
To find out more, visit www.westpawdesign.com.