Q&A with Chantal Saelen from MODERNA Products
What encouraged you to join the pet industry?
Well, I have been in the pet industry since day one. This is a third-generation family company so I have always been part of the company since I was little. So, what encouraged me was it seemed to be a fun industry to be in, and it seemed to have a lot of potential, and that is basically what encouraged me to be part of it.
How is the overall pet industry compared today to when you first joined?
There have been a lot of mergers from different players in the market, which was not the case when I started 30 years ago. I have seen a lot more professionalism with pet retailers, which was also not the case 30 years ago. Today, everybody is trying to get organized, get that critical mass to be profitable. I would say those are the biggest differences—more professionalism and larger companies.
The pet industry has always been a community. I don’t know for what reason, but if you start in this industry, you really have to seriously mess up to get out of it. When a person disappears in one company, 99 percent of the time, they pop up in a different company but are still in the same industry – which I hear from friends that work in different industries, is totally not the case. So, there must be something addictive in the pet industry, and I think that is the fun part of it. Also, there is a lot of emotion involved. Our mission, which starts right when we get up in the morning, is to make the life of a pet better, reflects that.
Which pet industry trends have caught your attention and how is MODERNA Products addressing them?
We have picked up the trends from humanization. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years already, but back then we saw that was becoming a big thing with pets; moving from being outside to inside the house and really becoming a part of the family.
So, we developed products that really fit into people’s homes, and are attractive enough to be part of that home interior. MODERNA Products was founded in 1932 as a button manufacturer, so we have always been on the lookout for new trends, but also for colors and materials. When we shifted from the button manufacturing to the pet industry that part of our DNA remained. For instance, your cat litter box doesn’t need to be ugly and clunky and a dull color. Why is it not a functional tool that is also nice to look at no matter if you keep it in your garage or in your bathroom or in your whatever? It can be nice to look at, so that was a trend we picked up on and have been very successful with ever since.
How is the company setting itself apart from competitors within the industry?
We set ourselves apart from competitors by focusing on making the product, adding a touch of design to it, but our first priority is of course function. We know that it is much more than just product and price, there is also as a company, the service you give, the partnerships you have, the sense of exclusivity, the reliability. If a customer has an urgent need for something, we will do everything we can to help them. We focus very much on that extra service level and partnership because it is more than just product, price and a corporate relationship.
Who has been your biggest advocate and supporter?
I suppose that would be our team. We are a third-generation company, 100 percent family-owned. I am the third generation; I run this business with my husband, and I have realized you cannot do things just by yourself—you need a good team with you and around you. So, those people who are motivated to come to work every day, also motivate me to keep doing the right things and make sure that they can remain a part of the MODERNA family. So yes, those have been my biggest motivators and supporters.