Planet Dog continues to reinvent the ball

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WESTBROOK — A Westbrook-based company will compete next week with other Maine companies to prove it has the most innovative new Maine-based product.

Planet Dog will join five other businesses May 18 at Maine International Trade Center’s Trade Day 2018 at the Samoset Resort in Rockland in hopes of securing the Best in Show award.

“It was really exciting to be among the finalists from such a great organization like the Maine International Trade Center,” said Sean Callahan, director of operations and business development for Planet Dog. “It’s great to see other companies continuing to be innovative.”

The Bradley Drive company is going up against Yard Cordage/Resin Fibers in Saco, Rogue Wear in Lewiston, Caron Engineering in Wells, Bristol Seafood in Portland and Dirigo Food Safety in Yarmouth.

The two Planet Dog products that caught the attention of the Maine International Trade Center are the Orbee Tuff Strobe and Orbee Tuff Squeak. 

“One of the things we pride ourselves on is being an innovative company. Our goal is to come up with three to five brand new products to bring to market every year and one to three line extensions, whether it is a different color or different size,” Callahan said.

Planet Dog’s toys and other products for dogs are designed in Westbrook and manufactured in Biddeford. The key in developing new products, Callahan said, is coming up with things that are durable, yet stimulating. 

“There are people who have dogs who chew through everything, so they need a durable toy. There are pet owners out there who want to keep their dog active. That’s the interactive, stimulating toy we specialize in. In our opinion, we are one of the best companies out there that play in both those fields,” Callahan said.

Callahan said the Orbee Tuff Squeak, which hit the market in March 2017, reinvents the squeak toy with “patent pending technology” that suspends the squeaker in the middle of the ball without using glue or solvents. Like the company’s other offerings, the ball, which comes in blue and orange, is made of recyclable plastic. In August, the Whole Dog Journal listed it as top dog ball of 2017.

Using the same technology, Planet Dog launched the Orbee Tuff Strobe less than a month ago. The ball, which comes in blue and glow-in-the-dark white, is water resistant and lights up when it is dropped or thrown.

Planet Dog also recently released its Orbee Tuff GuRu, an interactive toy that has four slots for treats, dog food or even apple slices or baby carrots. The GuRu, Callahan said, “fills the void of having an interactive toy that is also a chew toy.”

The new products, he added, have all “done extremely well.”

In fact, new product sales make up more than a quarter of the company’s overall revenue stream.

“The six Maine companies selected by the jury range from experienced exporters through those new to international markets,” Maine International Trade Center President Wade Merritt said. “All of these manufacturers have an innovative new product that is a key element in their strategy to increase export sales. We’re excited to highlight their efforts with an international audience at Trade Day 2018.”

The theme of Maine International Trade Center’s Trade Day 2018 is “Global Trade’s New Era: Accessing Asia.

Planet Dog, Callahan said, has already tapped into the Asian market. The company sells its products in Europe, China, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, South Africa and to a smaller extent South America.

“We’ve made a stake in the ground that if it goes into a dog’s mouth, we make it in the U.S.,” Callahan said. “We’ve seen a demand for U.S. products in all of our international markets, especially in China. It’s a growing market there.”

Callahan said international sales has been one of the “fastest growing parts of our business.” Some products do better than others overseas, but “universally pet owners are looking for products to help with chewing and interaction.”

The challenge with the international market, he said, is meeting the demand while keeping the costs down.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com or on Twitter @mkelleynews

The Orbee Tuff Squeak has been named by the Maine International Trade Center as one of the most innovative products made in Maine. 

Planet Dog’s Orbee Tuff Squeak combines a squeak toy with a chew toy. It is made of recyclable plastic and patent pending technology.  

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