City forgives $100,000 loan to pet supply distributor

A local pet supply distributor overcame some early start-up issues more than three years ago to get to the point where the city recently agreed to forgive a $100,000 loan for training workers.

Mayor Craig Luedeman told the Seymour Redevelopment Commission, which made the decision to forgive the loan, that Pet Supplies Plus’ partnership with the city has been a great one despite those early difficulties.

Luedeman said the company has met the goals initially laid out in January 2012 when the loan from the Economic Loan Incentive Program of Seymour, also known as ECLIPSE, was put in place.

Forgiveness of the loan, generated from tax-increment financing district revenue and not property taxes, requires a company to hire most of its workforce from people living within Jackson County.

As of Dec. 31, 2015, the company had 190 employees, with at least one making $80,000, 17 earning a minimum of $45,000, 12 making at least $35,000 and 160 making at least $25,000.

The company, founded in 1988 in Farmington Hills, Michigan, initially planned to create 135 jobs by this year.

The job force at this time is about 200 full-time employees, Jim Jelinek, the company’s vice president of logistics, told the commission during a meeting Monday at city hall.

Those employees are working four 10-hour days at the 175,392-square-foot distribution center at 1510 E. Fourth Street Road so they can have Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays off, he said.

There’s just one main shift, although about 18 people work a second shift to get things ready for the main workforce when it begins the day the next morning. In the early days, the situation was reversed with as many as 300 temp workers and less full-time workers, Jelinek said.

“We’re at a point now where it’s fun,” he said. “The first year was rough.”

Jelinek said some hourly workers can earn as much as $14 an hour, and the goal is to increase that to $15 or even $16 an hour.

“We believe that is a very competitive wage,” he said. “Three weeks of vacation to start, a 401K, we’re doing a lot of stuff.”

Pets Supplies Plus has grown to nearly 400 stores with a recent acquisition, Jelinek said.

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.