MEDINA, Ohio – Bil-Jac was founded in 1947 by Bill and Jack Kelly because of their shared passion for seeing dogs thrive. Since then, the dog food company has been keeping its dogs’ bellies full.
While serving in World War II, Bill visited a large kennel of German Shepherds trained as bomb-sniffing dogs. When he saw that they were thin and malnourished, he asked his father to send him fresh meat, grains and supplements so that he could prepare nutritious food for them. The dogs soon began to look and perform much better.
When Bill returned home, he set out to improve dog food nutrition. Through trial and error, he discovered the best combination of ingredients, vitamins and minerals and the best process to protect those nutrients.
On January 8, 1947, he delivered his first dog food to 11 customers, mostly neighbors. The recipe was fresh daily and could be refrigerated for three or four days.
This recipe was then refined to produce frozen dog food, using meat as the #1 ingredient, as it still is today. The recipe and the very specific way it was made was so revolutionary that the Kellys were able to obtain the first US dog food patent in 1951.
This passion for producing nutritious dog food was passed on to Bill’s sons: Bob, Ray and Jim. Ray and Jim have retired, but Bob is still the president of Bil-Jac and hopes to work another 20 years.
“I’ve built a management team that I love – they live up to the values of the company,” Bob said.
Graduating cum laude from Ohio University with a business degree, Bob’s pride in his business and his family is evident.
“My dad was a genius,” he said. “The company is focused on nutrition and the food is delicious. Animals are healthier with our food.
In 1987, Bil-Jac began making dry dog food using fresh meat ingredients and a gentle cooking and drying method called Nutri-Lock. The food contains 25 pounds of fresh chicken and balanced carbohydrates in each 30 pound bag of dry food. Unlike many other dog foods on the market, Bil-Jac does not add fat to improve the taste of the food.
The company offers 30 products online, including special recipes for puppies, seniors and large breed dogs, as well as flax-free, gluten-free, grain-free and high-protein special diet foods. They also offer foods without corn, wheat, peas and soy for dogs with sensitive digestive systems.
A special food is called “Picky No More”.
They also sell a wide range of goodies, such as chicken liver, whitefish recipe, or banana and peanut butter.
“Some people think we’re a candy company,” Bob said.
Bil-Jac’s head office is at 3337 Medina Road. the plant that produces all frozen Bil-Jac is located behind the head office. Dry Bil-Jac is produced in Maryland.
Food can be purchased in the United States, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, Israel, and Australia.
Dog owners can find Bil-Jac food locally at Tractor Supply, Pet Supplies Plus, PetSmart or online at www.chewy.com/.
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