The history of VéRUS Pet Foods is really about my journey. I'm Russell Armstrong. I founded, formulated, and own VéRUS Pet Foods. I started the company in 1993 but that's not really where the VéRUS story began. The beginning goes back to 1987 when I changed my career from the nuclear power industry to the pet food industry.
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It was a warm spring day and I was helping a friend at a dog show in Manassas Virginia. I had little knowledge of the pet food industry at that time but was amazed at the response pet owners showed to the food we had at our booth. My friend was representing a natural food, free of byproducts, chemical preservatives, and processed ingredients, perhaps one of the first holistic foods. Within a short period of time I had gathered literature from every dog food vendor attending the show. To my amazement, every food other than ours contained chicken or meat byproducts, chemical preservatives, and processed grains. What really surprised me is that each of those companies would tell their customers that the byproducts was clean healthy meat. Although nutrition and nuclear science are not exactly the same, science is science and the truth is the truth. Within a month of that show I had negotiated a sales position with the local distributor and was on my way. I toured the food plant where the natural food was made and educated myself about the manufacturing practices and ingredients and their effect on pets. Most of the information was readily available, just not in one source. Fortunately, the owner of the distribution company was an experienced veterinarian with access to current journals. Articles relating to nutrition were constantly provided for my continuing education. I attended veterinary conferences, holistic veterinary conferences, seminars, and read constantly as I pursued sales. What struck me the most during the first 3 years that I worked for the distributor was the vast amount of misinformation that pet food companies and sales people spread about their ingredients in their foods. Needless to say, when retail store owners and pet owners were shown accurate and truthful information about the ingredients, our sales grew. I always found it amusing when competitors would mock me for referring to the AAFCO handbook or my Nutrition Biochemistry and Metabolism book that I routinely carried. To me it was about trust. The trust that pet owners have in shop owners and manufacturers that the foods they are feeding meet the health claims the companies make. By 1991, I became a partner in the distribution company and the natural food I was distributing was growing rapidly as well. I had toured numerous pet food plants, broadening my knowledge of the manufacturing end of the business. I was also becoming more familiar with the ingredient suppliers. My method of selling was very simple but very successful. Dealers and consumers were shown the ingredients being used in the foods and then educated about the manufacturing process. If you start with a super ingredient mix of quality healthy ingredients and you cook it properly to maximize the nutrient conversion, you get great health results with your pets, short term and long term. The wheels came off the wagon that summer when a management change occurred at the pet food company. The new management team saw a great opportunity to expand the company profit margins by purchasing ingredients that were cheaper. Although a disaster didn’t follow, a very definitive decline in the performance of the food was seen. Unfortunately for me, I had promoted the food so vigorously in the Mid-Atlantic, many dealers and breeders thought that I worked for the food company. I was the one that they lashed out at when they began to see declining performance of the food. It was at that moment that I became convinced to produce my own food. This would be the only way, moving forward, that i could be guaranteed that sacrifices to the foods’ nutritional value would not be made in exchange for profits. I formulated VéRUS Pet Foods to meet the holistic values that I believed in. I chose manufacturing plants that adhered to quality manufacturing principles. These basic principles along with my unwaivering commitment to dealers, breeders, and pet owners that want a high quality holistic food for their pets has lead to almost 20 years of consistent growth. I am proud to tell people that we have never been involved in a recall. We source our ingredients only from the USA and New Zealand as I believe there are few other places on this planet that can grow or produce ingredients like we can in the USA. I keep my food consistent and I believe in the age old principle “you get what you pay for”.