By: Jackie Pilossoph | For Sun-Times Media

Three years ago, Larry Wright was just doing his job when he decided to take on a new project for his venture capital company: funding and running the financial end of The Green Pet Shop, a manufacturer and distributor of eco-friendly pet products.

But a hunch about the company intrigued Wright so much that he took a more vested interest and, in 2011, he bought the Deerfield-based company he now runs.

“I’ve always been a pet person, but it was more than that,” said Wright, who spent two decades as a commodities trader before becoming a venture capitalist in 2000. “I believed from a business perspective that this was not a trend.”

Wright explained that the $55 billion pet industry is recession-proof, and that the eco-friendly segment is the fastest growing segment within the industry.

The Green Pet Shop sells environmentally-friendly pet supplies that include bamboo bowls for cats and dogs, biodegradable pet wipes and waste bags, bio-dispensers, towel and mitt sets, a solution for skin irritation and cuts, and their biggest seller, the Cool Pet Pad, a cooling pad that cools pets on contact.

“This is the only product of its kind,” said Wright, who uses the pad for his dog, Reggie, a St. Bernard Great Pyrenees mix. “You don’t have to add water, you don’t have to refrigerate it, it doesn’t require electricity, and it’s pressure activated, so when the dog lies on it, it will cool him for up to three hours and will recharge itself automatically.”

Halley Leber is the manager of Kriser’s in Wilmette, a pet supply store that carries the Cool Pet Pad. Leber said the product sells extremely well during the summer months.

“Dogs don’t sweat like humans,” she said. “The only way for them to cool down is through their paws and through panting, so the cooling pad is a comfortable place for them to lie down and cool off on a hot summer day.”

In addition to doing extremely well in the pet market, Wright discovered several months ago that the Cool Pet Pad had another demographic: older women.

“I would get phone calls from women all the time and the story was always the same,” Wright said. “They would ask if it was okay to use their dog’s cooling pad in their bed, and I would say yes, and then they’d tell me, ‘Okay, it’s for me.’”

It was a discovery that in 2012 led him to manufacture two cooling products for humans that have sold extremely well: the Cool Flash Pad mattress pad the Cool Flash pillow.

With sales that have grown substantially, Wright is launching another company, Cool Care Technologies that will be devoted solely to the cooling products for humans.

His son, Brian, a University of Kansas graduate who joined The Green Pet Shop in 2012, will spearhead the new company.

“The potential is limitless,” Brian said. “This is a very special product that has already grown tremendously and that will continue to do so.”

The Green Pet Shop accessories, as well as the Cool Pad products for both dogs and humans, are available for purchase on the company’s website, as well as in pet stores all over the country.

“We do sell quite a few of these for women going through the change,” said Gabbie Roderer, manager of pet essentials for Chalet Nursery in Wilmette. “One of my customers just left, and she bought one for herself."

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