AMES and CORALVILLE, IOWA — Iowa State University played a key role in the recent expansion of Woofables, a small artisan dog treat bakery in Coralville founded in 2004. The company recently added two separate production lines to increase production; and expects to increase its sales by more the $3 million within the next five years.

Co-Owner Laura Taylor reached out to the university’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) in 2020, looking for help with developing a strategic plan for the company. CIRAS partnered with an external consultant to provide an analysis of the $4 billion US pet treat industry, which opened a window of opportunity for Woofables’ future.

CIRAS strategic adviser Joy Donald said the bakery had been dividing its effort between giving extremely personalized service to its boutique clients and also providing more standardized products for supermarkets. Serving both markets limited growth, because the boutique work took time away from the large-volume, more generalized products desired by big stores.

Previously, Woofables had been producing more specialized products for its pet boutique retailers, and more generalized ones to its big box store customers. This separation limited growth, according to Donald.Woofables beer mug and pop tart dog biscuits

“They were serving both of them, but the needs of those two segments were conflicting with each other,” said C.J. Osborn, project manager at CIRAS. “The skills that you need to serve one are quite different than what you need to serve the other. It became unwieldy.”

Together, CIRAS and Woofables created a new plan for the company, in which Donald helped recruit new executives, and Steve Wilson, strategic advisor at CIRAS, and Troy Crowe, project manager at CIRAS, partnered to develop a value-stream map to improve production efficiency.

Paul Gormley, another project manager at CIRAS, also helped the company identify growth opportunities for its e-commerce platform.

Iowa State University reported its analysis and partnership with Woofables gave Woofables leaders the confidence that the company could serve both the pet specialty and mass merchandiser retail channels more efficiently.

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