History


Historic Photo Of Kaytee
From a single grain elevator in 1874, shipping several hundred carloads of product per year, to today's nationwide manufacturing and distribution facility shipping several hundred thousand tons of product per year, Kaytee has become the leader in the bird and small animal industry for the past 130 years.

1800's

1866 - 1897

Nicholas Knauf Nicholas Knauf managed and eventually started his own grain and feed business in Sheboygan, WI. After the Milwaukee, Lakeshore and Western Railroad built a line to Brillion from Milwaukee, Knauf opened a branch elevator in Brillion. This business sent 500 carloads of wheat per year to the then thriving flour mill town of Milwaukee.

Nicholas Knauf builds a grain elevator in Chilton, WI. He also moves his headquarters to this county seat.

William N. Knauf (the 19 yr. old son of Nicholas), Frank Tesch and Milton Jones form a partnership. Under the subsequent ownership of Knauf & Tesch (K&T), the business supplies area farmers with clean, reliable seeds. They purchase the grain elevators from Nicholas Knauf in 1897.

Knauf and Tesch became a Wisconsin based corporation.

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1920's

Also, in the 1920's, Knauf and Tesch made the move to become a national distributor of dried peas for pigeon feed, and soon began producing bird and small animal foods.

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1940's

These were pioneering years for the wild bird mixes, actually creating the wild bird food category. In 1945, William Engler, Sr. joined the company. Tesch handled the dairy food portion of the business, with Engler managing the wild bird, pet bird, and small animal products.

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1950's

Flight attendent with Kaytee food for her parakeets Capitol Airlines carried parakeets as a mascot on every flight. They selected Kaytee Parakeet Mixture exclusively to keep their parakeets healthy and happy. This was the beginning of what has continued to be very innovative and creative advertising and marketing for Kaytee.

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1960's

Bill Engler In 1964, William Engler, Sr. purchased Knauf and Tesch, and made the decision to move out of the dairy and hog business and concentrate on bird and pet foods. This visionary leader recognized the growth potential of products that would meet the need of the ever-growing bird feeding hobby and companion pet market.

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1970's

Formal company name changed to KAYTEE PRODUCTS, INCORPORATED. Building expansion of manufacturing facilities begins, as new bins, warehouse space and manufacturing plants are needed to meet growing customer needs.

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1980's

The Englers In 1984, ownership transferred to fourth generation family, the great-grandchildren of Nicholas Knauf; William Engler Jr., Michael Engler and Virginia Engler-Gilmore.

This was a time of tremendous growth for Kaytee. Facilities expansion continued, a national sales force was established, computer systems were installed and the employee base expanded.

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1990's

Kaytee Products responds to the needs of today's customers by acquiring facilities strategically located across the country.

This national manufacturing and servicing capability allows for the freshest quality products delivered today to every Kaytee customer in the most efficient way possible.

Kaytee has presence in international markets including Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Singapore and many other foreign countries.

1993

Bill Clinton On May 12, 1993, Bill Engler, Jr. was named Outstanding Small Business Person of the Year by President Clinton," for exemplifying the imagination, initiative, independence, and integrity by which the American small business person makes a total contribution to the nation, the economy and the free enterprise system."

1995

Giant check for formation of Avian Foundation In November, 1995 Kaytee expanded the Avian Research Center and added a 5,000 sq. ft. Kaytee Education Center. This was integrated into Kaytee's philosophy, "A commitment to continuing and appreciating our privileged interaction with birds."

1997

In December of 1997, Kaytee is sold to Central Garden & Pet, a publicly traded manufacturing and distribution company from Lafayette, California.

Kaytee's new affiliation with other brand leaders and the only national direct store distribution company in the pet industry serves to strengthen relationships, bring new customers and support continued growth of the business. 2000's

State of the art barrier packaging, functional package design and structure, and investment in improved manufacturing processes add quality and value to the entire range that Kaytee Products produces.

Today, Kaytee continues its tradition of superior products, and unparalleled service, a tradition firmly rooted in the past and ever looking toward the future.

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2000's

2006

New Building

KAYTEE and SUPER PET join forces as CENTRAL AVIAN & SMALL ANIMAL Small Business Unit

In January of 2006 Kaytee joined forces with Pets International of Elk Grove Village, IL with the brand of Super Pet® the leading supplier of small animal homes and accessories. With headquarters here in Chilton, the Central Avian & Small Animal SBU (Small Business Unit) continues to energize the small animal and bird categories with this outstanding relationship.

All Kaytee and Super Pet products are research-tested and approved at the Kaytee Training Center.

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