[Front image shows Amy and Keith Augustine in their Ford Street warehouse. Gallery photos show (from left) the Augustines' victory table in Florida; Keith and his playful companion Walter]
BALLSTON SPA — Keith Augustine is surprised whenever someone thinks the company his wife Amy started—one that makes popular dog treats sold in local stores and nationwide—is a hobby.
“It’s been a busy few years for us. We’re really kind of maxed out,” Augustine said, during a recent interview inside the Lazy Dog Cookie Company’s 6,500-square-foot warehouse at the end of Ford Street in Ballston Spa.
The wife and husband team, joined by their faithful dog Walter, were watching over a devoted group of staff members they met several years ago through Saratoga Bridges, who were dutifully packaging fresh products.
Keith Augustine and one other employee make the effort to shrink-wrap the boxes of dog treats and stack them on pallets for distribution.
The Augustines were still getting back into the groove after traveling last week to Florida. They had attended the annual Global Pet Expo, a trade show organized by the American Pet Products Association.
Lazy Dog’s Bake-at-Home Birthday Cake Mix had won First Place in the expo’s Boutique product category. Its ingredients consist of oat and rice flour, rolled oats, vanilla powder, confetti sprinkles, evaporated molasses and whole dried eggs.
At last year’s event, Lazy Dog products won a third place prize, according to Cheryl Clark, a spokeswoman for Saratoga Springs marketing and web design firm Shannon Rose.
“Using only simple beneficial ingredients that are not only delicious, but also naturally nutritious, our products ‘lick’ the competition,” the Augustines boast in their product catalogue. “Our treats are wheat-, corn- and soy-free with grain-free offerings. They are also vegan/vegetarian and we never use any fillers, preservatives or anything artificial. Health benefits paired with unique recipes make them irresistible.”
The Augustines are originally from Pennsylvania, where Amy once worked as a microbiologist and the Heinz Corporation employed Keith. In 2001, Amy started distributing her first dog treats at farmers’ markets.
Then, she says, “I got really competitive.” After spending some time in Chicago, the couple relocated to Ballston Spa to focus on expanding Lazy Dog’s business.
In June, the Augustines will reach their next level of expansion by moving into a brand new warehouse around the corner at 25 Ralph Street. It offers 1,000 more square feet of space, and plenty of room for the couple to purchase pallet racks for storage and even a new forklift.
Also, more employees may be added prior to the move.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Keith Augustine said. “The majority of our space is taken up by pallets and packaging. We’ll stop lugging around everything by hand.”
The Augustines “have expanded the business to international distribution by introducing innovative and enticing new products that charm dog lovers, such as Original Pup-PIEs and Mutt Mallows,” stated Clark at the Shannon Rose firm.
WAM Commercial Associates in Ballston Spa developed both of Lazy Dog’s buildings, which are located within sight of the Kayaderosseras Creek’s rushing waters.
John Bowen, one of the WAM Commercial partners, had to descend from a construction lift to describe how two old houses beyond repair were demolished to put up the all-metal building on Ralph Street. His company had refurbished the Ford Street warehouse, preserving much of its original construction.
Officials in Ballston Spa have proven themselves to be quite “pro-business,” Bowen said, as WAM Commercial went through the process of fixing up three vacant industrial properties in the village and building three new ones—all over the last 19 years.
In addition to his partnerships with local retailers and large national chains like PetSmart and BarkBox, Keith Augustine said he was grateful for the support provided by Bowen and his WAM Commercial partner, Jim Dalpe.
“They’ve been really good to small businesses in the area,” Augustine said. “If we didn’t get hooked up with them, we would’ve had much more of a struggle.”
Lazy Dog Cookie Co. pet treats are available in these local businesses: Benson's Pet Center (6 locations); Agway (Ballston Spa); Ballston Spa Veterinary Clinic; Curtis Lumber Company (Ballston Spa); The Pampered Pooch & Pals; The Fresh Market (Saratoga & Latham); Whole Foods Albany; Honest Weight Food Co-Op; Head to Tails Pet Wellness Center; Niskayuna COOP; Fountain Square Outfitters; Four Seasons; Healthy Living Market; Impressions of Saratoga; Mini Me Pups Pet Boutique; Roma Foods; Upstate Animal Hospital; Paradise Pet Salon (Glenville); Four Dog Grooming (Wilton); Sutherland's Pet Works.