Spencer Williams is a fifth-generation Montanan whose love for his home state and its pristine beauty runs as deep as his roots. Growing up on a ranch in Columbus, MT also created an affinity for the stray cats and mutt dogs that have wandered through his life, leading to the impetus for West Paw Design’s inception in 1996 when he was just 23 years old.
Under Spencer’s leadership, the company has grown significantly: 70 people now are proud members of the West Paw team, supplying more than 3,200 retailers across North America and in 30 foreign countries. Production at the company’s headquarters in Bozeman has expanded beyond its original line of cat toys to a full catalog of high-quality toys, beds and apparel for both dogs and cats made from recycled, organic materials (and sourced from within the United States whenever possible). The headquarters itself has expanded, as well; in 2010, the facility underwent a major remodel that doubled West Paw’s working space and upgraded its efficiency. Staying true to the company’s environmentally-friendly business philosophies, the expansion was completed by re-using modular panel walls that were part of the original construction instead of sending tons of steel and concrete to the scrap pile.
This thoughtful approach is evident in all things West Paw Design. In fact, the company became the first pet products manufacturer to earn B Corporation certification in 2013. B Corps are a global community of sustainably-minded businesses — including respected brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy and Seventh Generation — that are certified by the nonprofit B Lab as having met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. By becoming a certified B Corporation, West Paw Design is helping create more business success in a socially-responsible manner.
“I want to be part of my community, the arts, and I want to get out in the mountains. We can do it all here. I pack 10 pounds of work into a 5 pound bag when I’m in the office so I can be out where the living really is when I’m done.”
Spencer attributes the company’s success to innovation and a great team of co-workers:
“I work with an awesome group from all different backgrounds,” he says. “They’re the most committed, hard working team of people, and I think that reflects on where we are. Montanans have a strong work ethic — we love contributing to a team.”
Attracting and keeping fantastic team members is no problem for West Paw Design: The company was named Bozeman’s Employer of the Year in 2014 by virtue of its excellent benefits (including paid time off to volunteer and flexible scheduling) and workplace culture (like open book management, an employee mentorship program and heavy investing in team enrichment).
It also helps that the man at the top sees the big picture in terms of work/life experience.
“Being in Montana gives me parameters that guide how much work I’ll allow myself to do,” he says. “I want to be part of my community, the arts, and I want to get out in the mountains. We can do it all here. I pack 10 pounds of work into a 5 pound bag when I’m in the office so I can be out where the living really is when I’m done.”