Bullibone is a socially responsible small business that produces quality long-lasting nylon dog chews. Our primary initiative is to create products that promote good hygiene, good mental and physical health and an overall better quality of life for pets.
Making dogs happy with healthy habits.
Where We Came From
The Founder of Bullibone, Lee Willingham, summed up the last three years with the words “it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride!” For Lee and his wife Leah, that’s probably an understatement. What these years have been are a testament to necessity being the mother of invention and how far one person can go with a simple idea.
A tool and die maker by trade, Lee Willingham has a degree in mechanical engineering and his own business. He also has an English bulldog named Boogie who likes to chew pretty much everything.
On the recommendation of his vet, Lee purchased a nylon chew bone for Boogie. Boogie was not impressed, refusing to chew it.
Since Lee is an innovator who enjoys inventing, he decided to make his own chew toy for Boogie. He built a mold for a dog bone and set out to permeate it with flavor to make it more appealing. After a few different tests, he hit on a beef flavor that Boogie liked.
Lee sent samples of his new bone to friends to see what appealed to their dogs as well. One thing Lee also noticed was that dogs had a difficult time holding on to the bone while they chewed. So he decided making one end of it flat might solve that problem. With a new mold he was able to produce a flavored bone with one flat end that dogs could hold on to.
Pleased with the success of his project, Lee had no visions of going further with his new product. His friends had other ideas. They wanted more of the chew bones for their dogs. With the requests for more coming in, Lee’s wife Leah asked if he minded if she sold them. He did and soon they were in the bulli-bone business.
It would be a life-changing decision. At first, they had no idea how to package the bones. The Willinghams live in a small town and there was no local business to help with packaging. They purchased a blister package machine and Leah went to veterinarians, groomers and others who might be interested in their bones.
Interest in their Bullibones snowballed. Jewel Osco groceries called to request samples. Lee received a call from a leader in the pet industry, who had seen his website and liked the product. Then last May, Wal-Mart asked him to do a presentation of the bones to their buyers. The buyers liked the product but asked if he could produce them in large enough amounts for their stores. They wanted to place Bullibones in 1200 stores to try them out. Lee went home and figured out a way to increase the number of bones that he and Leah could produce. He created molds that put out six bones at a time instead of one and went to work.
All the attention to his product produced another business offer from Trevor Jensen. Trevor wanted to purchase the Bullibone company with Lee remaining as a partner. As of January 1, 2016, they took over Bullibone LLC, leaving Lee free to do what he really enjoys: invent new products.
Bullibones shipped their first order to Wal-Mart in Feburary of 2016, with the product expected to hit the shelves on March 15, 2016. There are now three sizes and three flavors to meet the needs and tastes of all dogs. With a booth planned for the Pet Expo in Florida this year, Lee is still enjoying the growing popularity of his invention. As he puts it, “it’s been an awesome ride with starting from nothing to a multi-million dollar business.” Sometimes necessity really is the mother of invention.