You can't do much better than the pet products industry, which has been on a steep growth curve for years. Sixty-two percent of U.S. households have a pet – that's nearly 79 million homes. Despite the recession, people are still spending on their animals. And talk about fast-growing industry: pet products in the U.S. have grown from $36 billion in 2005, to an estimated $50 billion this year. Here's how three midlife reinventers have launched pet-based businesses.
Aprons for Chickens. And huts for parrots and harnesses for cats. When her daughter was born needing special care, Tobi Kosanke left her job as a geologist in the petroleum industry intending to find a way to work at home. Crazy K Farm Pet and Poultry Products was her vision. In the beginning,she made items to order. Now she has them manufactured overseas. Business is good, and Kosanke laughs when she says, "I never set out to be an entrepreneur. I'm a prime example of necessity being the mother of invention."
Dog Agility Center. As a senior publishing executive, Ratna Anagol traveled all the time. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41, she took a year's leave for treatment. She never went back. Instead, she launched a business that allows her a much better life, spending time with her two daughters. "My parents are doctors and I'd never been around someone who started a company from scratch." Anagol bought a dog-agility franchise, after sizing up the market in her California town. Anagol's Zoom Room has become the place to go with your pet in Monterrey. Business is ahead of her projections. Even more important, Anagol says, "My doctors say they've never seen me look happier or more relaxed."
Pet Safety. When Mark Rath's Florida-based construction company foundered in the recession, he wasted no time launching another venture. "My two Chinese crested dogs mean everything to me," Rath says. His new company, Bo Regards, sells plaques that let first responders to a disaster like a house fire that there are pets in the house. Seventy percent of Americans don't have an escape plan in case of a fire, flood or hurricane, so Rath knew the market was big. "Pet stickers for your windows are ugly. Our plaque is nice looking and permanent. It's a piece of art that serves a purpose."