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Small Business Buys Manufacturer's Factory To Keep Products Made In USA
Photo: Dog Not Gone

It’s important to some companies to have their products made locally. Most companies would give up if they lived in a rural area and the one facility that could manufacture their products was going to close. This is the exact situation that happened to the owners of Dog Not Gone, a pet product company located in Kingfield, Maine, but they saw it as an opportunity.

Last year the factory that had been making Dog Not Gone dog products for the last 10 years was closing. Julie Swain, co-founder of the company, says that they were faced with a decision to either contract the manufacturing of their products overseas or purchase the factory. In a bold move, the company purchased the factory, because a large part of their mission is to keep their products made in the United States and, more specifically, made in Maine.

Small Business Buys Manufacturer's Factory To Keep Products Made In USA
Photo: Dog Not Gone

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The company specializes in making canine visibility vests. Years ago Swain was in the business of making handmade fleece dog clothing, and then a customer asked her to make a hunting vest for her dog so she could be easily seen when in the field. After a few minor modifications, the Dog Not Gone Safety Vest was born, and the company has been steadily growing ever since.

Dog Not Gone makes vests for hunting dogs, but pet parents also use the vests to keep their dogs and horses from being mistaken for game during the various hunting seasons throughout the year. The vests are made with fabric that is milled in North Carolina. Swain says the quality of their vests is unmatched because of their approach to manufacturing.

She says that several hundred yards of fabric is laid out on a 75-foot cutting table, 50 to 100 layers thick. Each component of the vest is traced onto the fabric and then an electric knife is used to cut them all out. Assembly begins with two layers being stitched together by hand by skilled stitchers, and then Velcro and reflective tape are added to the vest. Finally, each vest is inspected and packaged.

Because there are so many hands on the products inspecting them each step of the way, the finished product is of excellent quality. One of the company’s most unique products is their tick and insect repelling dog vests. At the mill the fabric for these products is treated with permethrin. The supplier uses a proprietary process that permanently binds the treatment to the fibers of the fabric so it will not rinse, leach, or fade from the fabric.

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Small Business Buys Manufacturer's Factory To Keep Products Made In USA
Photo: Dog Not Gone

Swain says that it can be challenging to work from a rural location, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. She says that being so far from buyers and pet stores is the largest hurdle that they’ve had to face, but social media and the internet have helped in getting their brand out to dog owners around the world. She says that she also attends two national pet trade shows each year with her husband, which allows them to display their products to buyers from all over the world.

Along with their insect repelling vests and safety vests for dogs and horses, Dog Not Gone also makes safety vests for humans, reflective collars and leashes, and even brightly colored safety handkerchiefs to go around your pet’s neck. Their products can be purchased through many online retailers and pet specialty stores around the country. Swain is hoping to continue growing the brand’s retail presence and expanding their product line.