Friday, September 21, 2018
The year was 1995 – a bygone era during which TV shows could only be watched exactly when they were on, music only existed on CDs and cassettes, and pet supplies could only be procured via a visit to the local pet store.
But a certain company saw the growing potential the Internet offered, and that company was SitStay. Founded in Lincoln, NE, during this momentous time for the Internet, SitStay remains one of the first e-commerce pet supplies companies still in operation. Its mission is to “provide pet supplies and service/therapy dog necessities that are unique, high-end, and quality assured.” Twenty-one years later, the online economic landscape has changed dramatically but SitStay is still going strong.
In order to stay competitive in the modern marketplace, which since SitStay’s inception has seen the big brick-and-mortar pet suppliers extend their presences online, as well as the rise of all-in-one online stores like Amazon.com, SitStay recently hired Jill Liliedahl as their new CEO. Jill cut her teeth at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s NUtech Ventures, the university’s technological commercialization arm that “works with researchers to bring their research into the private sector so companies can use the developments that they’ve created.” With the expertise she gained there, she was well equipped to help SitStay advance and compete.
Jill describes her experience of joining as taking a fresh look at the company’s strengths: “When I came on board, when the current team came on board, we really took a hard look at what we have here. What’s going well and how do we just dig in and focus on that and get really good at those things instead of spreading ourselves too thin? We looked at the service dog industry and therapy dog industry. How can we help those folks? We also have a niche with hard to find and unusual treats. One of our most popular products is dried fish skins and we import them from Iceland. It’s something unusual that people can’t get anywhere else.”
In choosing to focus on the needs of owners with service or therapy dogs, SitStay was able to hone in on the special needs of those people and their pets. “They’re really entering a new time in their life,” Jill says. “They have a lot of questions. They might have this new dog that helps them get around, things like that.” Specialty products include harnesses, heavy-duty leashes, and patches that indicate that the pet is a service animal.
As SitStay looks to the future, it intends to maintain its commitment and passion for ensuring that dogs only receive the very best. As Jill says, “It’s really about paring down. Instead of being sort of shallow and wide, we go more narrow and deep in terms of our focus.”
Jill and the rest of the team at SitStay know that a common trait among all dog-owners is an understanding of loyalty. And as their mission statement says, it is their goal to earn that loyalty and live up to the trust and expectations of fellow dog lovers and their cherished pets.