Bringing the best to South African pets
They don’t know it, but cats and dogs in South Africa owe a lot to Cube Route. For Fido, food just suddenly appears in his bowl a few times a day. How it gets there, however, is far from magic; it’s a commitment to bringing the best to the region’s pets.

Cube Route Pty Ltd. is a company that imports premium pet food from Procter & Gamble in Holland, and markets the brands—Iams, Eukanuba and Eukanuba Veterinary Diets—through the veterinary channels in southern Africa.

“We have the sole distribution rights for sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands,” boasts Dr Sarah Miller, veterinarian and Director at Cube Route. “We distribute the majority of our volume in the South African market, however we also distribute in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola and are looking to expand to other markets. Of the local businesses selling premium brands in the vet market, we are the only one that is privately owned, all the rest are corporately owned. This gives us more agility and flexibility when it comes to making decisions, such as pricing.”

Cube Route made an excellent decision in choosing to import, market and distribute its chosen brands, as all three are globally recognised for their nutrition, quality and recommendations from vets. Eukanuba, for example, was awarded Superbrand status in South Africa just last year. Not only are the brands reliable for a range of dietary needs, but their target customers are a dream for any product-based company. Who wouldn’t want to market to an animal lover? Cube Route’s consumers are responsible and caring pet owners who are brand loyal and keen on giving feedback.

“We run a Customer Care line that has several people taking calls from pet owners, vets and vet staff every day,” Miller says. “These are people phoning for advice and giving us feedback on cases. We have hundreds of anecdotal feedback cases; some people send us cards with photos of their pets and some even bring their pets in to our offices, so we can see how well they are doing.”

Take this email for example:

Dear Sarah,
Just a short note to say what an awesome diet the [Eukanuba Veterinary Diet] Mobility is. My pet family has some geriatric members… a rottie and newfie who are suffering the effects of aging and joints that are not working so well anymore. The difference between your diet versus an opposition product is mind blowing. They behave like juvenile delinquents. Also interesting to note is my jack russel who suffers from a mild atopy… is greatly improved as well. Thanks once again for all that you and the company stand for.

Continuing education

In 2009, Cube Route decided to take the business to another level, adding more value for customers.

“We formalised another arm of the business, which is focussed on supplying continuing education to veterinarians all over South Africa,” says Miller. “In time, this may move into the supply of continuing education programmes for other professional sectors, such as medicine, physiotherapy and optometry.”

“We source the speakers and educators; record and edit the content; and accredit (through the relevant assessment boards) the material, so compulsory education hours can be accrued by veterinarians,” she adds. “This material is put onto DVDs and a library of information by expert speakers is made available for veterinarians to purchase. One of the key strengths of this setup is it allows vets to study on their own time, at their convenience and have a tool to refer back to (as opposed to a live lecture).This is currently only available in South Africa.”

With continuing education, Cube Route is carving out a niche in the industry, as no other company is offering the same option to veterinarians.

A rewarding career

In addition to the joy that comes with success, Miller and Cube Route’s co-owners, Wendy Fisher and Bruce Tiley, are also thrilled to be working in the vet community. “It is an ethical and hard-working industry, with people who are working to improve the lives of others,” Miller beams. “These pets are very important companions, members of the family and dogs with very important jobs (such as guide dogs).”

Cube Route’s business is one built on strong relationships with the vets, its staff and the pet owners. There is a real trust aspect that goes along with the industry that can be just as rewarding as it is challenging. “The pet food industry is highly competitive and this environment rapidly excludes the complacent,” Miller maintains. It is vital to the company’s success to build relationships with vets, which is why they are so committed, offering higher education.

Miller concludes: “As far as commitment goes to veterinarians and their clients and patients, it is a privilege to be a part of all of their lives and do what we can to make our four-legged friends live a better life for longer.”