Make no bones about it, Kolby and Kaleb Rush were onto something when they cooked up a unique plan for a pandemic project.
The brothers from Bucks County were in college when COVID-19 hit, sending them home to learn remotely. Both had secured internships, but the pandemic derailed their goals. So, they set new goals.
“We got sent home from both of our respective campuses,” Kolby said.
"We thought we should probably start doing something because we lost internship opportunities. …We thought starting a business—as small as it might be—would be an awesome resume line.”
That thought has grown into much more than a line on a resume. Today, Kolby and Kaleb Rush co-own Saint Rocco’s Treats, a Perkasie-based, small batch, craft dog treat company. But it didn’t happen overnight.
Kolby and Kaleb chose to focus on familiar territory. At the time, Kaleb had his sights set on a business degree at Temple, eventually settling with an entrepreneurship major and marketing minor. Kolby was in his senior year at Penn State focused on finance. They also had some industry insight.
“We were really fortunate because we’ve grown up, through our dad and grandpa, in the dog treat industry. We worked for our dad directly for a number of years, so we roughly knew how to make up dog treats,” Kolby said. “We knew about the backend of the industry, and we saw there really are no local companies making high-quality, meat-based dog treats.”
From there, the duo worked alongside their dad to craft recipes. (Cooper, the family’s Cavapoo, eagerly agreed to taste test.) Then it was full speed ahead with logo design, social media, website development, door-to-door samples and more.
Kolby and Kaleb were confident in the product. From their research and experience, they knew their treats filled an unmet need. They focused on fresh, locally produced, human-quality dog treats. “We really saw the issues within the system. Ultimately, that knowledge led us to what Saint Rocco’s is today and how we differentiate ourselves,” Kaleb said.
The big hurdle was getting others to see and taste the difference in the midst of a pandemic. They cranked out small batches of treats in their family kitchen, then started their masked, door-to-door tour of the neighborhood. As dog owners and lovers, they knew they had to win their neighbors’ hearts and minds.
“To create something, people have to be aware of it,” Kaleb said. “From there, we went to thousands of homes in our neighborhood, delivering free samples and introducing ourselves.”
Once a furry friend tried the product, the Rushes got nothing but rave reviews. They quickly outgrew their home kitchen operation, relocating to a family member’s barn with a kitchen. What started with a small, countertop meat grinder expanded into a commercial kitchen.
Now about two years into their business, Saint Rocco’s Treats can be found in more than 130 independent retailers. Kolby and Kaleb are gaining plenty of fans by attending local events where they can interact with pet parents and their pups. In October, they hosted a grand opening at their store, providing tours of the facilities, offering dog photographs and partnering with a local brewery for refreshments.
As new PFMA members, they look forward to connecting with retailers, learning more about distribution and creating greater awareness of their products and brand.
Kolby and Kaleb attribute their success to like-minded customers. “Our mission is to provide the best quality and service for our fury friends and what they deserve,” Kaleb said. “Those like-minded consumers really want to be better for their furry friends.”
“It’s really cool. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary. We’re just doing it the way it should have been done,” he said.
Crafting the Saint Rocco’s story