TEA, S.D. – A love of animals and an entrepreneurial spirit led Doug Sangl and Lyle Van Kalsbeek to launch Ruff Tough Kennels, a Tea, South Dakota, based business that manufacturers the most durable dog kennel on the market.
The two business partners had already been in the plastics business for many years when they decided that both pet owners and pets need a better carrying crate. “Pet owners were telling us they needed something sturdier and that would fit in a car more easily,” Sangl said. So the two got to work and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ruff Tough Kennels started small, but today the company has customers throughout the world. “We literally take calls every day from around the globe,” Sangl said. Ruff Tough Kennels can also be found in most of the major sporting stores, including Cabelas, LL Bean and Scheels.
While Ruff Tough has had some excellent national exposure, including being featured on Fox News during its National Dog Day segment, it’s really word of mouth that continues to be their best source of advertising.
“Our products sell themselves,” Sangl said. “We attend various events throughout the year and our crates seem to always draw a crowd,” he added. One of those events – Pheasant Fest – is coming up later this month.
“We love attending this type of event,” Sangl said, “This is exactly who we started our business for – people who love to hunt and people who love their dogs.”
But producing great kennels isn’t the only thing Ruff Tough Kennels is known for. “We really believe in giving back so we have participated in several fund raising events,” Sangl said. “We even manufactured a pink crate for breast cancer awareness with a portion of each sale going to the cause.”
The success of Ruff Tough Kennels has prompted Sangl and Van Kalsbeek to branch out to other products, including bird transport boxes and fillet board for fish cleaning. “No matter what product we are looking at manufacturing, we know that it will always be sturdy and dependable because our customers deserve no less,” he concluded.