DogIDs fetching more business for West Fargo couple
Clint and Lori Howitz want to offer only the best for man's best friend.
The West Fargo couple own and operate DogIDs, an online company that offers personalized dog collars and tags, as well as other pet products such as beds and dishes.
"A lot of pet owners are looking for personalized pet products," Lori Howitz said.
They currently operate out of their basement but are looking for office space. And they have a plan that, by the end of the year, will bring their collars and ID tags to customers of brick-and-mortar pet retailers that don't have in-house personalization services.
Their business plan earned them $10,000 as one of five Innovate ND Idea Champions, announced last month in Fargo.
Innovate ND is a business venture competition that helps entrepreneurs in the state, said program manager Brandi Schoenberg. DogIDs was one of 20 finalists, from an initial field of 107.
"I think he'll make it successful because he has that passion," Schoenberg said. "He's already proven to us, through his presentation and the documents he provided, his business is already successful and it's growing."
One room of the Howitz home is lined with leather, fabric and plastic dog collars, and small bins of shiny and painted ID tags, which are engraved right there.
Currently, customers across the country order from them online. Their largest states are California, New York and especially Texas.
"They must really love their dogs down there," Clint Howitz joked.
Howitz first got involved in the dog product industry about 10 years ago as a sportsman who took part in hunt tests with his black Labrador retriever.
"I needed certain types of collars and leashes that I couldn't buy at pet stores, he said.
He worked with a harness maker in northern Minnesota. Other sports-dog owners wanted his equipment.
Howitz, with his brother, started a wholesale business selling specialty products for sports dogs, like protective clothing. They sold the business after three years, but Howitz said he recognized the potential in engraving and pet tags.
Clint and Lori founded the DogIDs website about five years ago, but only started focusing on it since they moved back to the area nearly three years ago. They have displays in some specialty pet shops, where employees will fax them customer orders.
Clint, who previously worked for Bobcat and Ford Motors Co., said his goal is to have the pet collars and tags sold in 200 locations next year and 500 by 2012.
The Howitzes also own domain names for catids.com and horseids.com. They plan to develop them eventually. Both sites currently link to the DogIDs site.
"We're just dog people," Lori Howitz said. "We focused on what we wanted first."
* Contact: (800) 720-8247 or firstname.lastname@example.org
* Online: www.dogids.com