Big Shrimpy has always been a recycling company. The company was born when Bruce Kelling noticed huge bags of clean fleece scraps leaning against a manufacturer’s dumpster. They were remnants from cutting garment patterns. When told that the fleece scraps were to be thrown away, he thought about his pup Maggie.
Maggie’s bed was a sore spot for Bruce. It had been purchased from a company known for its reputation of quality products. Yet less than six months after Maggie started sleeping on it, it was completely cratered out in the center. Nothing Bruce did helped the bed regain its loft.
Bruce was at the manufacturing facility to oversee production of a travel product he had recently patented. He asked the manufacturer to sew a few dog beds from the same materials used for the travel product. That meant tough 420 denier packcloth, water-resistant ripstop nylon, and soft fleece. The manufacturer was happy to give Bruce the fleece scraps to fill the beds.
Bruce took the prototype bed (the “Original”) to a neighborhood pet store. And wow—they ordered five beds! Soon the travel product took a back seat to dog beds. Bruce had the garage filled with bags of fleece scraps to fulfill local pet store orders. Meanwhile, his wife Cici managed the books on the weekends.
Customers loved the durable nature of the Big Shrimpy beds and the recycled filling. Another benefit to the fleece scraps quickly became evident. The fleece fabric the scraps were cut from was washable, so doggie odors could be washed out! Machine washability, combined with durable construction, resulted in a very long-lasting dog bed.
Bruce and Cici, proud of making a better dog bed, resolved to make long-lasting pet beds and reduction of environmental impact the cornerstones of their company. Big Shrimpy has changed in many ways since then, and offers more products than the “Original”, but one thing remains the same: Big Shrimpy continues as a recycler of clean polyester waste in its long-lasting, machine washable and dryable pet beds.
When Bruce brought Maggie (officially Magnolia von Hundertwasser) home, he was amazed at how she fit in his two hands. She was such a little Shrimpy! The nickname Shrimpy stuck even after Maggie grew up.
Shortly before Bruce made his first sales call to the neighborhood pet store, he was working madly to create hangtags for his new beds. But what to call the company? There was Maggie sitting right next to him. She’s the little Shrimpy, so we’ll call the company Big Shrimpy, he reasoned—and the rest is history.
Maggie passed away in 2012. Maggie always lived exuberantly–whether she was pointing birds in the grain fields of central Montana, running full speed through the waves on Cannon Beach, or stalking squirrels in our back yard. When not playing hard, she rested hard, always on a Big Shrimpy, of course, and always with an eye out for a belly rub. She was a joy in our lives and we’ll always miss her.
Bruce grew up in Montana, where he spent most of his time outdoors fly fishing, backpacking, skiing, or playing soccer. After living in Germany for his final year of high school, he returned to the U.S. to get his college degree in Oregon. He then completed a masters degree in theology. After a few years in the corporate world managing sales in Europe and Asia, Bruce wanted to pursue his dream of starting his own company. In 2001 he launched a travel product company and ended up starting Big Shrimpy as well. Bruce likes to spend his spare time running, cooking, and working in the garden with his chickens and honey bees clucking and buzzing around…like his two sons.
Cici also grew up in Montana. Weekends at her family’s cabin in the mountains around Red Lodge fostered her love of the outdoors. She earned her college degree in biology and her masters degree in environmental restoration. She worked for several years in environmental construction, consulting, and education in Montana and Washington. When Bruce launched Big Shrimpy, she put her project management skills to work there. These days, Cici’s time is split between Big Shrimpy and her family, with occasional moments to run, hike, mess around in the vegetable garden, and read.