Rescue Grants

Throughout the remainder of August, we will be witnessing an influx of manila envelopes in our mailroom.  The reason is that the end of August marks the deadline for applications for our annual Rescue Grant program.  Since establishing the program in 2006, we have seen the number of applications grow steadily each year.  This tells us not only that interest in the program has grown, but that the need for support has never been greater among rescue, wildlife sanctuaries and other deserving organizations.  At the end of the day, we’re happy to do our part and only wish we could do more. 

If you are involved with a rescue, shelter, or wildlife rehab organization or know someone who is, please be sure to share our information about the 2012 Oxbow Rescue Grants.  This year, we will be awarding nearly $20,000 in cash and product to a number of deserving organizations all over the United States and Canada. To learn more or apply, click here.  Meanwhile, thanks to rescue organizations everywhere for the selfless work they perform on behalf of animals. 

High Temperatures and Hard Work

Like much of the rest of the country, we’ve been suffering through a hotter than normal spell here in Nebraska.  Because of the nature of our business, the doors to our production facility are open year round to allow us to bring in hay for sorting.  As a result, our talented production staff is forced to put up with some uncomfortable temperatures every now and then.  Day in and day out, they are up to their elbows in hay, pick and sorting to make sure that only the best of the best makes it into the bags that ultimately make it to our customers’ pets’ food dishes.  Through it all, I’ve never heard them complain.  I am extremely thankful for the dedication of all my employees.  Because of their daily efforts, Oxbow is able to fulfill our commitment to the health and wellbeing of animals all over the globe. 
 

Independence

As a part of this year’s Independence Day festivities, my wife, Pat, and I had the pleasure of driving the Oxbow float in the local 4th of July parade.  For a town as small as Murdock (pop. 267), the turnout at the parade never fails to impress.  This year’s parade was no exception, with both sides of main street filled with local residents of Murdock and the surrounding communities.  As a local business owner, I feel proud to be able to represent my company in the festivities.  Year round, I feel proud to be able to support the local communities through employment.  At Oxbow, we often talk about the importance of having the “right people” on board.  Fortunately for us, our local communities have provided the right people for years.  In addition to being thankful for my freedom this time of year, I’m especially thankful for all of the wonderful employees who make up my company.

Happy Independence Day, everyone! 

Tinkering

Something many people don’t know about me is that I studied engineering prior to taking over my family’s farm many years ago.  As an engineer at heart, I take a lot of pleasure in “tinkering” – tweaking, experimenting, altogether trying to understand how things work with the ultimate goal of making them work better. 

Lately, I’ve been working on a few new projects which have allowed me to go into “tinker” mode.  With every new project I embark on, I look forward to the trial and error that’s involved and believe that tinkering is central to the ultimate success of any project.  In my case, I grade success by the ability to ultimately introduce healthy, innovative, and enriching products into the small animal marketplace.  It’s something that has driven me for as long as my company has been in business and something that I suspect will always drive me. 

I’d like to write more, but something just came to me.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tinker.   
 

Graduates


This has been a special week at Oxbow.  As I mentioned a few posts back, Bunny Boot Camp (our annual distributor meeting) takes place this time every year.  I wanted to take a moment to congratulate this year’s boot camp graduates.  This year’s cadets arrived at Oxbow Monday and departed yesterday.  Our thirty some visitors went through a fun, hands-on training that involved facility tours, a timothy hay field tour with a harvesting demonstration, product training, great local food and drink, and, most importantly, a valuable exchange of information regarding pets and nutrition.  Over the course of a couple of days, the group learned everything there is to know about Oxbow.  In the process, we learned a lot as well. 

Congratulations, Bunny Boot Camp class of 2012, and best wishes from all of your friends in Nebraska! 

Bunny Boot Camp

In a couple of short weeks, it will be time once again for Bunny Boot Camp at Oxbow – an annual event that brings in distributor reps from all over North America to the Oxbow farm for three days of tours and hands on training in all things Oxbow.  On the surface, the goal of the event is to train our guests on our product lines and processes to better prepare them to sell Oxbow.  In reality, it’s always our greater goal that our guests leave with something much more lasting than facts and product specifications.   

What we hope our guests leave with is the true “experience” of Bunny Boot Camp.  This means spending time with the people who make up Oxbow, exchanging stories and learning about one another’s journeys.  It means standing in the lobby of our century old barn turned office and learning about the humble beginnings of our company.  It means walking through our production facility during a shift to observe the careful process of hand sorting and packaging hay.  It means wading waist deep in one of our Timothy fields to examine the plant parts, from roots to seed heads. 

When Bunny Boot Camp is complete, it’s our goal that our guests take more than knowledge with them.  We hope they take experiences as well.

Ambassadors

I spend a lot of time talking about pet health, and with good reason.  Every decision that’s made at Oxbow is ultimately made to benefit the health of pets all over the world.  Every new product, every quality measure, every new store we place our products in – all of these things have a strong impact on countless pets. 

In the process of spending so much time thinking of pets, it’s sometimes possible to overlook the benefits pets have on the individuals responsible for making healthy, responsible decisions on their behalf.  I like to think of pet parents as ambassadors for their pets.  Just as pets benefit from healthy foods and enriching products, their ambassadors benefit from having animals in their lives.

Much has been written about the positive effects pets have on the lives of those who take care of them.  Pets can improve mental and physical health in many ways.  Pets have been shown to help lower anxiety, stress, blood pressure, and to help with depression.  Children who grow up in a household with pets can develop less allergies than those who don’t.  The list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, pets give us so much more than we could ever imagine.  In exchange for making sure their basic needs are met, pets improve our quality of life in countless ways, always offering their unconditional love.  As pet ambassadors, we provide pets the opportunity to bring their joy and offer their many selfless gifts. 

To pets and pet ambassadors alike, thank you.

Keeping it Simple

Twenty years ago, a fraction of today’s thought went into the purchase of pet food.   Through no fault of consumers, the science, research and resources simply didn’t exist to offer much in the way of options.  Flash forward to the present day, and you’ll see pet store aisles filled with discerning, educated customers reading labels with the intent of making the best decision for their pets.  If you ask me, it’s a beautiful sight.  

A number of articles I have read recently provide further evidence that today’s pet parents are interested not only in options, but in information as well.  Additionally, it has become clearer recently that pet owners not only want to know what’s in the food they feed their pets, but they want it presented in a way that’s easy to interpret as well.  The cleaner the label and ingredient panel, the better.  I couldn’t agree more.

From the beginning, my company has been committed to producing healthy, uncomplicated nutrition for pets.  All of the hay we grow and sell is painstakingly monitored for quality – from the time fields are planted, to when the product finally goes into the bag.  Our foods are formulated with natural, healthy ingredients designed to mimic an animal’s diet in nature.  Our complete line of organic nutrition for rabbits and guinea pigs was an industry first.  Even the treats we produce are healthy and wholesome without exception. 

It’s no secret that a majority of today’s pet parents consider our animal companions a part of the family.  As such, it’s only natural that we would pay more and more attention to the products we purchase for our pets.  Simpler, healthier products make for happier pets, and less confusion on the part of consumers.  In a world where so much of what we encounter on a daily basis is complicated, it’s refreshing to know that the road to our pets’ health doesn’t need to be. 

Putting Hotels on Park Place

“Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.” – Herbert Hoover

I have a confession to make; I want to win.  Whether it’s a board game with family or a real life business application, I’m driven by the same internal desire to be the best.  While this might get a little annoying during holiday games of Monopoly, I consider it an asset otherwise.      

In any line of work, competition is a healthy measure for all involved.  When you strive to be the best, your competitors have no choice but to do the same.  Pushing your competition is healthy and is a sign of respect toward your industry and customers.  The end result of this process is a better product, a stronger company, and a stronger industry.  In my line of work, this means higher quality nutrition and safer, healthier products for millions of pets all around the world.   

While the concept of competition can be made to sound as corporate and technical as you want it to, I believe it all comes down to that singular, internal drive to want to win.  Every great company is made up of individuals who approach their work with the attitude of wanting to be the best not just for themselves, but as a symbol of respect for the gift of their time on Earth.  To stick with the Monopoly metaphor, these individuals are driven to “put hotels on Park Place,” no matter the task. 

I'm proud to say that my company is made up of a wonderful group of people who share my competitive drive.  Together, we do our part to contribute to healthy growth and progress throughout the industry.  Just don’t ask us to play Monopoly. 
 

Picturing the Rainbow

A brief April shower passed through Oxbow a couple of mornings back.  The rain was unremarkable in and of itself - maybe a tenth of an inch of precipitation when all was said and done.  What was remarkable was what the rain left behind.  Oxbow’s Customer Care Specialist, Kelli, snapped the above photo on her way into work that morning.  I’m quite sure it’s the most brilliant rainbow I’ve ever seen.

There’s something profound in the fact that such a minor rain could leave behind so brilliant a symbol.  In spite of our best efforts, there are some days when we all feel our contributions to the world aren’t especially meaningful.  I know I’m guilty of feeling this way.  In these moments, I think it’s important to remember the bigger picture – to picture the rainbow, if you will.  While our daily best might not seem like much in the moment, we should remember that even the smallest gestures and quietest contributions are capable of changing an entire landscape.

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