March 21-23, 2018
Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL
American Pet Products Association (APPA) Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA)

Global Pet Expo Academy Speaker Bios

Suzanne M. Boy, Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A.

Suzanne Boy is an employment lawyer at Henderson Franklin in Fort Myers, Florida. She is passionate about assisting her clients with all aspects of employment law and HR­ related issues. Suzanne regularly assists her clients with employee handbooks; wage/hour audits; supervisory training; and employee termination, leave, and disciplinary issues, and she strives to help clients proactively and cost-effectively resolve workplace issues. When litigation cannot be avoided, Suzanne represents her clients in employment all types of employment litigation. She frequently speaks to businesses and professional groups on various employment matters, and  serves  as  the  lead  writer  of the firm's employment law blog. 

Linda Cahan, Cahan & Company

Linda Cahan is an internationally recognized expert in visual merchandising with over 35 years of marketplace experience. She helps your store to look and feel better to sell more. Linda's breadth of experience is in all segments of retail working with hundreds of independent retailers as well as retail corporations as a Visual Merchandising and Store Design consultant. Linda gives seminars on a wide variety of retail design topics nationally and internationally and is a columnist for several B-to-B magazines. Linda is the author of three books as well as eight custom corporate visual standards manuals for major retail corporations. Linda taught at The Art Institute of Portland for six years and at Parsons School of Design in NYC for twelve years.

Bret Deardorff, Hill's Pet Nutrition

Dr. Deardorff joined Hill’s Pet Nutrition as a territory manager in 1996. He was soon promoted to District Sales Manager for the Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas territory and held that position prior to moving into marketing at the home office for Hill’s in Topeka, Kansas in 2000. Dr. Deardorff has held a number of positions in Marketing and Sales and is currently the National Trainer, responsible for the creation of sales, technical & nutritional training tools for the Hill’s veterinary sales team, Veterinary Health Care Teams, and Hill’s veterinary distributor partners.

Curt Jacques, Owner & President, West Lebanon Feed & Supply

Curt Jacques is the Owner and President of West Lebanon Feed & Supply, recognized as one of the most highly-awarded independent retail/wholesale businesses in the industry. He is also the founder of Retail Mechanics Business Consulting Services, and has nearly 40 years of experience in sales and marketing in the pet/animal/agriculture arena. Combining years of practical knowledge from his tenure as a leading sales executive with a national pet and animal consumables manufacturer, along with his experience on the “other side of the fence” as an independent retailer, Curt provides a unique perspective that has inspired countless others to follow their passion and achieve extraordinary success. Due to his perpetually forward-thinking approach and (occasionally unorthodox) entrepreneurial drive, Curt has become renowned among his peers as a game-changer in the industry. 

Since launching Retail Mechanics Business Consulting Services in 2012, Curt has continued to conduct numerous training sessions and seminars for a variety of national and international businesses, both large and small. His wealth of practical knowledge and expertise, as well as his creative outlook and straight-shooting approach to sales growth has continued to resonate among business leaders across many industries; however his passion and focus remain on independent (pet & animal) retail/wholesale. The ‘Retail Mechanics’ approach combines strong and invariable business and marketing principles with a practical “from the trenches” perspective that is purposefully designed to impact a whole new generation of entrepreneurs.

Chris Miller, President, Pacific Store Designs

Chris Miller, President of Pacific Store Designs, has been active in the design and development of the retail pet industry for the past 35+ years. He was a contributing editor for Pet Age magazine for 2003-06 columns titled “Problem Solvers” that covered all areas of a retail pet operation form PET Store design, Merchandising, Operations, Staff and Promotions.

Pacific Store Designs offers retailers; design services, fixtures sales, custom cabinetry, vented custom animal enclosures, licensed general contracting, architectural Services all 50 US states through permit procurement, professional installations, merchandising assistance and educational seminar presentations/training.  Chris is one of more popular speakers/trainers in the past 10 years at our Global Pet Expo.  His expertise ranges from business planning, costing and budgeting, sales projections and payback analysis return on investments. Chris has designed well over 3,500 retail stores worldwide. You will not find a more diversified experienced retail expert for the pet industry. 

Vicki Lynne Morgan, Animal Brands, Div of Califon Connection LLC

Vicki Lynne Morgan has a passion for mentoring entrepreneurs and small business owners on achieving goals and sustaining their growth and profitability.  She helps them leverage their skills and expertise with integrated consulting and planning in core areas such as strategic, low cost/no cost guerrilla marketing and selling, customer experience management, and trade show/expo marketing.  A life-long student of business concepts, she has a wealth of knowledge gained firsthand from personal experiences in pet manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service as well as from mentoring and teaching thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Engaged in the pet industry for over 35 years, Vicki Lynne Morgan is the first woman to own a pet industry manufacturers’ rep agency.  A marketing and sales professional, she is credited for initiating and sustaining programs that have enabled select pet product manufacturers to achieve brand recognition and sales through independent distribution channels.  Ms. Morgan was selected and recognized as a Pet Age Woman of Influence in 2016.

Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts

As a customer service strategist, Anne works with companies to develop and deliver innovative ways to keep customers coming back and spreading the word about their service experience every step of the way. Anne believes that customer service isn’t about the transaction, its’ about transforming customer relationships into a contagious experience ….worth spreading. Her interactive keynotes and workshops help challenge leaders, create more effective sales teams and improve performance at each and every customer service touchpoint.

Tom Shay, Profits Plus Solutions

Tom Shay is a fourth-generation small business owner. His teachings provide the "nuts and bolts" necessary to improve the operation and profitability of the business. Tom has authored thirteen books on small business management and a college textbook on small business accounting and business planning. Having written over 400 columns in 75 trade publications, he has been nominated three times for the Jesse H. Neal for editorial excellence in business media. He has earned the Certified Speaking Professional distinction, which has been attained by 8% percent of speakers worldwide.

Ben Smith, Director of Social and Emerging Media, Callahan Creek

As a community of thinkers and makers, Callahan Creek provides full-service marketing support to brands across the U.S., and focuses on rejuvenating brand health, sales and profitability. Ben works with a diverse range of consumer brands to integrate social media in to all aspects of daily operation, from developing strategy and process, to providing employee training, to guiding community management and other tactical executions. His clients include major brands in the companion animal and pet pharmaceutical space. He also works extensively with emerging media and technologies, exploring key trends that impact consumer brand relationships. He has hosted more than 100 social media and technology-related conferences, regularly speaks to diverse audiences at conferences and trade events across the U.S., and is actively involved in the national Maker Movement, including participation in the 2016 White House Nation of Makers kickoff event.

J. Nichole Smith, Working with Dog

Nichole has been engaging with pet businesses for over 10 years. Her approach to keynotes, break-out sessions and workshops alike, is an emphasis on honesty, humor and action. As an author, photographer, designer, marketing strategist and serial entrepreneur, Nichole’s insights into the mixed-up worlds of creativity, self-employment and marketing are comprehensive and unparalleled in the pet industry. Her abilities to connect with her audience, consistently deliver ‘ah-ha’ moments and leave us empowered to take on the world, are a delight to behold.

Her results-driven presentations center around a dogged approach to marketing, stories from a fascinating decade as a petpreneur and generous helpings of road-tested strategies for achieving scary goals, taking big leaps, earning serious money and building a dream life. Nichole was also selected as a “40 Under 40” Influencer by Pet Age.

Lynn Switanowski, Creative Business Consulting Group

Lynn Switanowski draws on over twenty years of business experience with Fortune 500 companies including Reebok, Aramark and Liz Claiborne where she was responsible for achieving all the financial objectives of individual business units with sales over $50 million dollars. Under Lynn’s guidance and leadership, the businesses she ran consistently achieved and exceeded their financial targets and her experience with establishing strategic plans for the businesses she ran produced consistent revenue and profit improvement. 

Lynn’s management experience and creative problem solving skills led to the re-engineering of traditional business models and made each and every business involved more efficient with their sales channel and distribution techniques. Lynn’s creative vision and leadership were responsible for guiding 4 new product launches that today are generating over $550 million dollars in sales for their respective companies.

Laurie Wolff, NASBITE International, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

Laurie Wolff is an academic economist who has taught literally tens of thousands of students the basics of competition and demand and supply.  She is also a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) who tries to equip others to expand international trade.  She bridges the gap between educators, government business assistance centers, and businesses, trying to connect students with employers, training with business needs, and available help with businesses that need to use it.  She especially likes to teach about competitive trends and ways to manage risk in international trade.  Her mission is to improve the practice of global business.

Shark Tank Pet Entrepreneurs Panel

Moderator: Lindsey Laurain Ono, ezpz