TEWKSBURY, MASS. and SANTA MONICA, CALIF. — Wellness Pet Food Holdings Company announced its incoming chief executive officer on March 8. Reed Howlett will join the company, which is backed by Clearlake Capital Group, L.P.
Howlett succeeds Camelle Kent-Rizkalla, who served as chief executive officer of the company for the last eight years. During her tenure, Kent-Rizkalla helped to elevate WellPet’s many brands. She will continue to serve as an advisor to the company.
"Leading WellPet for the past several years has been the thrill of a lifetime, and I have great confidence in Reed and the entire WellPet family to further WellPet's success serving our retail partners and pet families with the very best natural nutrition," Kent-Rizkalla said.
Howlett is a veteran of the premium pet food sector, bringing more than 25 years of experience from previous leadership roles within the industry. His career includes serving as chief executive officer of Nature’s Variety.
"I am honored to serve as the next CEO of WellPet to build on the company's heritage as a pioneer in the premium-focused, natural pet food category," Howlett said. "WellPet has an unprecedented opportunity to expand to serve more pet families by deepening our focus on providing the highest quality pet food and treats and driving nutritional innovation for our partner retailers and pet parents, and ultimately supporting the health and happiness of the pets that depend on the company's products."
WellPet manufactures several pet food and treat brands, including Wellness Natural Pet Food, Holistic Select, Old Mother Hubbard, Eagle Pack, Sojos and Whimzees.
Additionally, WellPet and Clearlake Capital announced two additions to its board of directors: Jeffrey Watters and Paul Kayser.
Watters brings more than 33 years of experience in the pet food and related industries, most recently serving as president and chief executive officer of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, now owned by The J.M. Smucker Company.
Kayser offers 28 years of relevant industry experience. He is the current president and chief executive officer of Pretium Packaging, a Clearlake company.
"We are thrilled to welcome Reed and Jeff to the Clearlake family and are excited to have Paul bring his expertise to another of our portfolio company's boards,” said José E. Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner at Clearlake Capital. “We look forward to working together with this team to execute on WellPet's growth plans, driven by Clearlake's O.P.S.® framework including organically through product innovation and potential transformational acquisitions.
“On behalf of Clearlake and the board, we want to thank Camelle for her exemplary service to WellPet, and we wish her the best in her future pursuits,” Feliciano said.
Arta Tabaee, managing director at Clearlake Capital, added, "WellPet is well positioned as an innovator in the highly dynamic premium pet food and treats category. The entire sector is supported by accelerating tailwinds from the confluence of pet humanization, pet adoption, and increased spending on natural and healthy premium foods and treats. We couldn't be more excited to have Reed, Jeff, and Paul join the WellPet team to drive increased investment and growth under our sponsorship."
Read more about personnel changes throughout the industry.