Tomko�s Bones in business for 14 years

Published on Thu, Jul 17, 2003 by Shanna Green

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Tomko�s Bones in business for 14 years

By Shanna Green

Walking through pet stores, you have probably passed by or even purchased Tomko�s Real Bonesproducts, but what you might not know is that Tomko�s is a local business, and has been for over 14 years.

Located in a large warehouse at 2280 Peace Portal Drive in Blaine, Tomko�s has been manufacturing dog bones, treats, and toys and distributing them to retailers from Washington to Florida for the past decade.

�We sell from coast to coast and border to border, all the way to Canada,� owner, Al Tomko said.

Although Tomko�s does not sell retail, many shops in Whatcom County carry their products including the Cenex stores, Bailey�s Bath House and Portal Way Farm and Garden. Tomko said much of his direct sales to the public come from his yearly booth at the Lynden Fair.

The business began 14 years ago when Tomko�s pit bull, Tyson, almost died from choking on a rawhide. Tomko said that was his inspiration to make a new kind of dog treat that would be safer for his dog to eat.

Tomko started out making bones just for his own dog, smoking them in his back yard. Tomko said it became a business after he began giving the bones to people he knew who passed them along to others. As the word spread, his business grew.

�We were the first ones to make a bone like this,� Tomko said. �Our product is the only one to be impregnated with garlic.�

Trisha Kersch, Tomko�s daughter and the shop manager, said that it is the garlic and extremely hard texture of the biscuits that are good for a dog�s teeth and help to keep them clean.

�Dog trainers recommend them, vets recommend them, everybody recommends them,� Kersch said.

Kersch said their products are completely natural and they do not use any chemical preservatives. Since meat and bones are part of a dog�s natural diet, Kersch said they try to leave as much of the meat as possible on their bones.

�Everyone says table scraps aren�t good for them, but before dry dog food, what did they eat?� Kersch asked.

Kersch said that the meat and bones used to make dog treats is as strictly regulated as meat you buy at the grocery store.

Taking extra precautions, Tomko said they cook the bones at more than 200 degrees in order to kill all of the bacteria, well past the required 180 degrees.

Tomko said people have become more finicky about their dogs and what they want to feed them. With this in mind, Tomko has expanded his business to make toys and treats, including bear shaped dog biscuits, and bagel cookies.

�We make just about everything you can think of,� Tomko said.

Over the years, Tomko�s has also acquired six full-time employees and, of course, some new dogs. Tomko still has Tyson, who at nearly 15 spends most of his days inside being bullied by his wife�s Dachshund, Tomko said. Kersch has also added two new additions to the family with her six-month-old red Dobermans, Hansel and Gretel, who have become the resident taste testers.

�It�s a family business,� Tomko said. �Plus now we�ve got two dogs working.� Tomko said even though the business has expanded to provide treats for dogs all over the country, Tyson is still the reason for the bones.

�I just love my dog,� Tomko said.

Tomko�s Real Bones is located at 2280 Peace Portal Drive in Blaine. For more questions on sales or distribution, the company can be reached at 332-3232.

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