Businessman resurrects Alaska Canine Cookies

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska Canine Cookies Inc., which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year, is back in business.

Tom Sheffrey is relaunching the Anchorage company.

Sheffrey bought the Alaska Canine Cookies dog biscuit recipe and business name in October, and began the renewed venture in mid-November.

A client from his computer-service business told Sheffrey Alaska Canine Cookies was up for sale and encouraged him to buy it. ''I heard about it, and I knew it was successful,'' Sheffrey said.

The pet treats were off the market for six months following the bankruptcy filing last spring, he said. Now the new owner has restocked Alaska retailers with the product and ramped up production to meet demand for the upcoming visitor season.

''It's a killer product. Dogs love it,'' Sheffrey told the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Alaska Canine Cookies distributed its products nationally after starting small. The company gained increased recognition before hitting financial trouble.

In 1996 Shaun Calhoun started the company, developing the recipe and baking dog treats at her home before moving to an Anchorage facility. The following year the company received the manufacturer of the year award from the Made in Alaska program.

At one point the company employed 28 people and distributed products to all 50 states and six countries, she said. ''When I had the business, 90 percent (of our market) was in the Lower 48,'' Calhoun said. San Francisco and Manhattan were strong markets for Alaska Canine Cookies, she said.

A year ago an injury forced Calhoun to take time away from the business, which eventually led her to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, she said.

Alaska Canine Cookies filed for bankruptcy in Anchorage on May 3. Calhoun listed personal and corporate assets of about $94,000 and $308,280 in debts and liabilities, according to court documents.

The company defaulted on two loans from its lender, Alaska Growth Capital of Anchorage, eventually owing $197,557 including interest for loans in 1999 and 2000, the documents showed. Top creditors included landlord Hilligas Co., credit-card companies and FedEx.

Calhoun was disappointed the venture failed, despite gaining a contract from a national retailer just before filing bankruptcy.

Now she hopes the new owner will help the company bounce back and prosper.

Although it was a bittersweet return to the business, Calhoun has taught Sheffrey some dog-biscuit baking basics.

The company touts its pet treats as all-natural. Main ingredients include whole wheat flour, canola oil, eggs, honey, oat bran, wheat germ and brewer's yeast.

Sheffrey has hired three distributors to stock the products at several outlets in Alaska, including animal-food and pet stores, veterinarian's offices, gift shops, Sam's Clubs and Williams Express stores.

Sheffrey has discovered Alaskans remember Alaska Canine Cookies, and many retailers are eager to stock the products.

''I would like to go national eventually,'' he said.

Currently, Alaska Canine Cookies employs one full-time worker plus two part-time employees.

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