Long before Pet Food Experts established its reputation as a trusted partner for independent pet retailers, the company was founded by independent pet retailers! The Baker family’s love of the pet industry began in 1936 when Michael Baker's great-grandfather opened a pet store in the basement of his home, specializing in selling live fish. Over the next 80 years, the business evolved into a chain of independently owned pet stores, and grew into a distributor of pet products from coast to coast.
Herbert “Salty” Baker lived in Rumford, Rhode Island and turned his love of keeping fish as pets into a career by opening a pet store in the basement of his home to share his hobby with the local community.
Salty’s son, George Baker Sr. left his job as a catering delivery driver to join the family business. He opened Rumford Aquarium in East Providence, Rhode Island, finally moving the store out of his father’s basement. The East Providence store is still located on the corner of Warren Avenue today.
After serving in the Air Force, George K. "Buddy" Baker (3rd generation) returned from his station in Okinawa and joined the business, continuing to grow it throughout the next decade. In addition to the retail store, Buddy began expanding the wholesale business by supplying pet products to local pet stores in Southern New England. Without realizing it, a distribution business was born out of the back of the pet store.
The Rumford Aquarium distribution footprint (in orange) covered Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the lower half of New Hampshire and Vermont.
Pet Food Experts came to life by accident — due to contract negotiations with the Iams Company, Pet Food Experts was created as the new, exclusive distributor servicing Southern New England. When the company was founded, just 16 people were employed — and two of the original employees are still with us today!
In an effort to establish itself separately from Rumford Aquarium, Rumford Pet Center rebranded as the stores became a Southern New England staple and a trusted source of supplies for pet lovers.
Michael Baker, Buddy Baker’s son, was born into the pet industry. He formally joined the Rumford Pet Center team in a managerial role after studying business at Babson College — a school that embraces family-owned businesses — and at the store for four years before joining the Pet Food Experts team in a sales role.
The Pet Food Experts home office relocated to Cumberland, Rhode Island with 200,000 square feet of warehouse space and acquires Sharon's Distributors, expanding footprint into Northern Vermont and Upstate New York.
When Pet Food Experts first moved into the Cumberland warehouse, there was no racking, and just half of the 200,000 square foot space was utilized for the one brand that we carried. Luckily, we had plenty of room to grow!
After nearly ten years working in both retail and distribution sides of Rumford Pet Center and Pet Food Experts, Michael is promoted from Vice President of Sales to President of Pet Food Experts.
Michael acquires the company from his father, Buddy Baker and expands into Metro New York. With the acquisition of OK Pet Supply, 20 new vendors are added to the portfolio, completely changing the company's business model and diversifying our offerings to retailers.
In an effort to offer customers an improved range of products, Pet Food Experts discontinues relationship with a major grocery brand. This results in an opportunity to diversify the company’s portfolio.
Pet Food Experts is named Distributor of the Year by the Pet Industry Distributor Association. This honor is given to the distributor that demonstrates a commitment to both retailers and vendors in the pet industry.
For the first time, distribution territory is doubled with the opening of a 200,000 square foot warehouse in Lancaster, PA. Starting with just 20 employees, Pet Food Experts organically gained over 600 customers from seven states in the Mid-Atlantic territory with the help of our outstanding sales team and now employs 70 people in the Lancaster area.
Pet Food Experts establishes its presence in the Midwest with the acquisition of Zeus & Company in Des Plaines, IL, adding ten states to the distribution footprint. This acquisition added over 600 customers and proudly employs 39 people in the suburbs of Chicago.
Pet Food Experts was voted one of the best places to work in Rhode Island by Providence Business News for the third time in four years. This award recognizes businesses in Rhode Island with an exemplary company culture and is judged based solely on surveys of employees and management reports.
Pet Food Experts moves to the Pacific Northwest by acquiring Northpoint Trading Company in Fife, WA, adding five states to the distribution footprint. Located in the suburbs of Tacoma, the warehouse location services over 450 customers and employs 29 people.
From Buddy making deliveries out of Rumford Aquarium in the 70s to bicoastal distribution, Pet Food Experts has drastically expanded its distribution footprint (in orange) by maintaining trusting partnerships with independent pet retailers and vendor partners.View Territory Map
With the opening of a new 200,000 square foot warehouse in Denver, PA and a 100,000 square foot warehouse in Des Plaines, IL, the Pet Food Experts team is able to better service our growing number of customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest territories.Watch Video
Due to exponential growth across the country, our home office in Cumberland, RI reached maximum capacity and needed more space to continue to serve our customers and vendors. Now located just five miles away from our warehouse in Cumberland, our office in Downtown Pawtucket, RI is home to team members from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Due to growth on the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest distribution center transitioned to a larger, 85,000 sq. ft. facility in Fife, Washington. The Pet Food Experts portfolio in the Pacific Northwest nearly doubled after the move, with more space for quality brands to offer customers.
Every year, Pet Age Magazine’s Distributor of the Year award recognizes a company that exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding supplier. Thank you to our customers, vendors, and employees who make Pet Food Experts the company it is today. Watch the video, which features a special interview with Michael Baker and an inside look at Pet Food Experts.Watch Video
Michael Baker was named Person of the Year by the Pawtucket Foundation, which recognizes individuals and organizations that contribute to the enhancement of the quality of economic and community life in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. With the move to Pawtucket, the Pet Food Experts home office brought over 100 jobs to the Downtown Pawtucket area and is instrumental in the revitalization of the downtown area.Learn More
With a diverse portfolio of over 120 vendors of food, treats, supplements, and supplies, Pet Food Experts continues to seek out partners who share a commitment to the independent pet retailer.View Vendor Directory
On April 12th, The Baker Family was recognized among four 'Y Heroes' at the YMCA's annual event in Providence, Rhode Island. For over 30 years, Michael, his father, and grandfather have been involved in the growth of the YMCA of Greater Providence, impacting the lives of thousands of families.Read More
Pet Food Experts expands further out west and adds three states to their distribution footprint after acquiring Monarch Pet Products located in Denver, Colorado. This acquisition adds over 365 new retail partners to the Pet Food Experts family.Read More
Pet Food Experts is proudly celebrating 29 years of service to independent retailers in the pet specialty channel, with a team of nearly 450 people in 32 states! In the future, we look forward to incorporating a number of new projects and technologies to streamline business and help our retailers thrive in an ever-changing industry.