KLN’s NutriSource Pet Foods Partners with Finley’s

KLN’s NutriSource Pet Foods Partners with Finley’s

The pet food giant will provide capital and manufacturing while the dog treat startup shares its inclusive hiring practices.

NutriSource Pet Foods, a subsidiary of Perham-based KLN Family Brands, is taking dog treat startup Finley’s under its wing through a strategic product development and manufacturing partnership.

Under the partnership, NutriSource will provide an interest-free bridge loan to Eden Prairie-based Finley’s, assist in the development of new products, and produce Finley’s Functional Benefit Bars at NutriSource’s new manufacturing facility in Delano. In exchange, Finley’s founders, Angie and Kyle Gallus, will bring their inclusive hiring strategies to NutriSource and create programs to hire and support individuals with disabilities.

Angie and Kyle Gallus holding bags of their dog treats
Angie and Kyle Gallus

The Galluses are former special education teachers who launched Finley’s in 2016 on a mission to create job opportunities for their former students (hear their story on By All Means podcast). They’ve raised $650,000 through angel investors. Now sold at several national retailers including Target, Chewy.com and Safeway/Albertson stores, the brand donates 50 percent of its net profits to helping people with disabilities gain work experiences.

Three years ago, KLN’s CEO Charlie Nelson saw a local news story about Finley’s and reached out to the Galluses. The timing wasn’t quite right for a partnership, Angie Gallus said, but they stayed in touch. Six months ago, following the opening of KLN’s Tuffy’s Pet Foods manufacturing center in Delano, where NutriSource is produced, the couple reconnected with Nelson and began crafting a plan to join forces.

“Our company has been producing pet foods for nearly 60 years and we’ve never forgotten the help we’ve gotten along the way,” Nelson said in a statement. Nelson’s father Kenny was inducted into TCB’s Minnesota Business Hall of Fame in 2018. KLN Family Brands is comprised of Tuffy’s Pet Foods and Tuffy’s Treat Company, which includes Wiley Wallaby licorice and Sweet Chaos popcorn. The company’s value was estimated at $350 million in 2019.

“We feel privileged to pay that support forward by assisting Finley’s in their mission to provide premium pet treats and employment opportunities to those who just need an opportunity to show their talents and abilities,” Nelson said.

Kyle Gallus described the partnership as one of both business and passion for helping people.

“We’re such a young company, trying to navigate grocery, pet stores—there are so many channels we have to learn about. KLN is willing to mentor us. They bring a lot to the table as far as their ability to help us see the bigger business picture.”

Meanwhile Angie Gallus, who works on Finley’s career training and development, has her sights set on building a much larger inclusive workplace within KLN. “That’s a lot of jobs I get to help bring into their organization.”

Hear the Finley’s story on TCB”s By All Means podcast. Finley’s was also recognized by TCB as a Small Business Success story earlier in 2021.