Lixit prepares for growth

NAPA -- Lixit Corp., which has captured more than two-thirds of the U.S. market for small-pet watering devices, is preparing to reel in more dog accessories sales with the acquisition of a Chicago-area pet products company that patented a reel-based dog run, and a new Napa warehouse is planned to support Lixit's double-digit annual growth.

Lixit (707-252-1622, acquired Howard Pet Products of St. Charles, Ill., on May 30. Operations were rolled into Lixit's in Napa, and Howard Pickens, owner of the 2-year-old company, was hired as national sales manager.

[caption id="attachment_95424" align="alignleft" width="252"] The key item Lixit acquired from Howard Pet Products was a dog tie-out that automatically retracts the 20-foot cable leash and revolves 360 degrees, covering 1,256 square feet. It can be staked in the ground or attached to a deck or house. (credit: Lixit Corp.)[/caption]

"The products we acquired are helping to open difficult doors we couldn't open before," said Linda Parks, Lixit CEO.

Howard Pet had sales of around $1 million a year. The key product is a dog tie-out with a retractable leash akin to a fishing reel. It's designed to replace chains, cables and other mechanisms for keeping a dog on a leash while allowing movement in a yard or a public setting such as a park. The reel can rotate 360 degrees on a stake that's pounded into the ground. It comes in small, medium and large sizes and retails for $30--$40.

"The No. 1 customer that buys it is Camping World," Ms. Parks said. "That gives us a heave-ho into the sporting-goods industry."

Other key retailers that carry it include Ace Hardware, Tractor Supply, PetCo, PetSmart and Amazon.

The Howard Pet line of tie-outs, kennel-carriers with wild designs such as leopard spots and "vintage" leather footballs, soccer and other balls for dogs to chew on fit with Lixit's dog products, Ms. Parks said.

Sales of dog products make up about 40 percent of U.S. sales of pet supplies, she said.

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