Last year we had the opportunity to work with some of our clients to identify a non-profit that was special to them and provide a donation in their name. Lauren Appelbaum with Manna Pro Homestead selected Five Acres Animal Shelter

1. What was your organization’s biggest learning in ’20? Personally?

I think the biggest learning that came out of 2020 for us as an organization was how very agile and nimble we could be in the face of such unexpected and rapid change.  This was true from both an organization/people and business standpoint.  In terms of the business, it was helpful that (pre-COVID) we had already embraced eCommerce as a core growth pillar and had put team and process in place to drive rapid growth in this channel.  So in March of 2020, we had a strong infrastructure in place that we could ‘ramp up’ vs having to build something from scratch.  In terms of the team and people, while it certainly took adjustments (and lots of IT support) to transition into the virtual workplace that would define 2020, we were also pleasantly surprised at our ability to maintain momentum and connectedness as a team.  At the start, we made a concerted effort to overcommunicate, to arm our managers with virtual best practices since this was a new experience for everyone, and that has really benefited us in terms on maintaining team engagement and motivation.  

As an introvert, my biggest personal learning was that while I thoroughly enjoy “me” time to reenergize and recharge, I realized just how much I miss that in person human interaction. While the majority of our workforce continues to work remotely, I appreciate the opportunity to go in to the office as-needed. When I do, I fully take advantage of the opportunity to say hello and reconnect with others face to face instead of on a computer screen.

2. What good news came out of 2020 for your organization?

We wrapped up 2020 with a record performance year punctuated by market share growth in our core categories, the sale of Manna Pro from Morgan Stanley to the Carlyle Group, and the successful closing of 3 acquisitions that added high quality brands to our portfolio: Promika flea & tick care, Doggie Dailies wellness and Bullymake power chewer subscription box.   Most importantly, we were fortunate that our team and partners remained safe and healthy.
3. What are you excited about for 2021? 

What’s not to be excited about in this amazing world of Pet?  2020 only amplified what we already know, which is that our pets are beloved members of the family and there are few things as powerful and unconditional as that emotional bond.  With pet adoptions on the rise, as well as the explosion of homesteading as a lifestyle (go backyard chickens!), Manna Pro remains committed to enriching the lives of pets, their families and the communities they thrive in.
4. Why did you select Five Acres Animal Shelter for your nonprofit donation? Why are they special to you?

Five Acres mission of ending pet homelessness, promoting responsible pet ownership and advocating for animal welfare aligns so well with our organizations purpose of “Nurturing Life.” Our company focuses on enhancing the lives of pet owners and their pets, and we know how important it is to have organizations like Five Acres in our communities to love and care for pets until they are able to find their forever families.

For me personally, we adopted our cat, Ellie, from Five Acres about a year and a half ago. She quickly became a member of our family joining our two kids and two dogs, and it is evident she runs the household! My Manna Pro colleagues have gotten to know her very well over the last year as she’s made regular live appearances during numerous meetings.

In addition to finding the perfect feline companion at Five Acres, I’ve had such positive experiences with them over the years. It is an extremely well-run animal rescue that plays an integral role in the greater St. Louis area. We are lucky to have them in our community!

Learn more about Five Acres Animal Shelter, their story and the difference they make in our community!