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JustFoodforDogs plans job expansion a week after opening its doors

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Carey Tischler | PHOTO COURTESY OF JUSTFOODFORDOGS

NEW CASTLE – One beneficiary of the shelter-at-home phenomenon is the family dog.

JustFoodforDogs (JFFD), which opened a 21,000-square-foot “master kitchen” on March 23, has decided to accelerate its plans to hire 50 people in its first three years and will add a second shift over the next few weeks, adding an additional 25 people to produce fresh dog food for East Coast pooches.

“Our business is faring extremely well,” CEO Carey Tischler said. “Our existing customers are stocking up on product as well as customers sitting at home thinking about the health of their pets. We’ve seen new customers double in the past month. And e-commerce transactions are up 400% over the same period last year.”

In fact, in the wake of COVID-19, dog food sales spiked 54% last week compared with the same period last year, according to Nielsen data.

Named the No. 1 veterinarian-recommended fresh food for pets, Irvine, Calif.-based JFFD serves fresh food made from human-grade, restaurant-quality ingredients, with recipes like beef and Russet potato and venison and squash that are nutritionally balanced and proved healthy in independent university studies.

Tischler said JFFD is targeting displaced restaurant workers for its second shift, which will bring the local kitchen’s production to more than 30,000 pounds of fresh meals per day.

“The additional shift will include a production manager, supervisors, cooks, and packagers,” Tischler said. “We have a great training program and most of our new employees come from the human side – prep cooks, short-order cooks, people who run kitchens. We have slightly different equipment because we cook in small batches – 200 pounds at a time – but it’s the same quality of food we’re producing.

The jobs are all full time and above minimum wage, and very competitive wages for the market, Tischler said.

During times like this, behaviors shift to health and wellness.

“I’m eating a lot healthier and that’s consistent with what we’re hearing from new customers,” he said. “It’s the mission we were founded on. Most of our customers get local delivery, curbside pickup, and by ordering online.”

Unlike many of its retail kitchens, JFFD did not plan on opening the New Castle location at 200 Centerpoint Blvd. for public sales, but Tischler said that could change in 2021 or 2022, adding that “Delaware residents can order online or get it as a ‘shelf staple item’ at Petco, meaning it has to be refrigerated after opening.”

JFFD was one of the early successes of the state’s public-private economic development agency, Delaware Prosperity Partnership, when it announced in December 2018 that it had chosen Delaware over New Jersey for its first East Coast distribution center. The company received a $170,000 performance-based Strategic Fund grant from the Council on Development Finance in late November. JFFD pledged to employ 50 people within three years and invest $1.5 million to $1.7 million in capital as part of the grant requirements.

By Peter Osborne

[email protected]

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