Open Letter to the Pet Community
We invite you to watch the shortened version of the letter, or read the version below.
To our pet community,
Crossing the country to meet and network with members and learn about the industry was part of my 100 first day plan as your new President and CEO of PIJAC Canada. Transitioning from health care I’m all about in-person meetings and building relationships. COVID-19 has certainly paused this for the time being. Pets support people’s emotional , companionship and health needs. And this has never been more true as we experience this COVID-19 pandemic.
For over 32 years, PIJAC Canada has acted as the voice of the Canadian pet industry. Since its inception, PIJAC Canada has experienced tremendous growth, both in its membership base and in the services, it offers to the industry at large. With its 6 regions, the association has continued to build the support from its members as well as its credibility through its actions in three key areas: information, education, and advocacy. Our vision is to be the leader in the advancement and development of a vibrant pet industry, working together for the well-being of pets and their families.
Records have been set over the last two years. Between doubling the membership, hitting a never before seen participation in trade shows and offering a multitude of new member benefits, 2020 was going to be the year to continue surpassing targets. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter, the focus of the association shifted to supporting members through this difficult time. The PIJAC Canada staff spent the better part of three months advocating for industry members and making sure their voices were heard at government level. Between letters to government officials, press releases and media interviews to successfully keep pet stores open across Canada, surveillance of the situation in every province and communicating safety guidelines, it was all hands-on deck. Meanwhile, there was word from provincial governments that no events would be happening for the months to come. As a not-for-profit that heavily relies on trade show incomes to stay operational, the cancelling of our three in person shows has had a severe impact.
PIJAC Canada’s trade shows are not only important for the association, but also for manufacturing members. In many cases, these shows are where a large sum of the yearly orders come from. These events are also opportunities for retailer members to bring new products to their shelves and get great discounts on their orders. It was crucial that a trade show took place… one way or another. Wanting to continue to provide the business opportunity to members, the virtual edition of the National Pet Industry Show came to be. The team began to work hard on organizing this show, working with the platform provider to come close to the experience that members have come to know and love. The event industry world has been completely turned upside down this year. PIJAC Canada is proud to have jumped into this model and to have been successful with it. With COVID-19 cases on the rise once again in every province in the country, it is becoming clear that the next year or two will continue to be filled with uncertainty. As we move into the next stages of the pandemic and towards a better “normal”, we are keeping the understanding that things can change from one day to the next.
Although trade shows are a part of what we do as a trade association, there is so much more that goes on at the Ottawa office. On a nearly daily basis, we work with different people in the industry on advocacy issues, offering our expertise and getting in contact with decision makers. Additionally, we offer and develop new education programs to help others continue their education and offer the best care they can to pets. The association wants to continue to offer business and networking opportunities, all while continuing to develop advocacy efforts and education programs. To do this, PIJAC Canada will need to find new ways to do business to make it through this challenging time, to best diversify and to help position the organization now and in the future.
To achieve this, we will need the help and support of our community. We are grateful for the support we have already received from members and partners. Our community has always been very supportive of PIJAC Canada, and the association will continue to need this support to continue to navigate this time. As a not-for-profit, every dollar that comes in goes right back into the association and our members. We understand that the pandemic has had an impact on all of us. We hope that we can continue to work together and support each other to come out on the other side, united and stronger.
PIJAC Canada President & CEO