When Dave Robbins found himself out of a job late last year, he decided to use the opportunity to finally make the jump into entrepreneurship.
The Forsyth County resident had been thinking about starting his own business for a while. Robbins worked at AT&T for more than a decade, helping to build a mobility project management team, and he’d been good at it. With less than 25 employees, Robbins developed a team that managed revenues averaging $350 million a year.
“We were incredibly successful,” Robbins said.
Though the project thrived, Robbins felt an urge to start his own business. The layoff seemed like the perfect chance.
Robbins kept gravitating toward dog day care. He grew up with dogs, and he and his wife have owned dogs ever since they married 21 years ago.
But owning dogs didn’t always fit with their family life during Robbins’ 17 years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. The family leaned heavily on dog day care facilities during that time. Robbins went to Iraq in 2004, which his wife used as an opportunity to visit friends around the country, and every year, Robbins had to travel for Reserves exercises three to four times.
“It was not fair for the dogs to be home pretty much the entire day and seeing people for an hour,” Robbins said.
When Robbins found Hounds Town USA, a dog day care facility business based out of New York, he was convinced it was the right fit.
In particular, Robbins was struck by the business’ approach.
“Their philosophy is to have smaller playgroups, pair dogs up that have the same temperament, play styles, things like that,” Robbins said. “It’s a lot more work that goes into it, but at the end of the day, it gives the dog a more beneficial environment. And they’ve been very successful with it.”
Indeed, the company, which was started in 2001 by former New York Police Department canine handler Michael Gould, has nine locations in New York and New Jersey. The facilities offer overnight boarding with “townhouses” for dogs that prefer company or “private suites” for those that don’t. They also offer a pet spa, pet taxi and training services. Hounds Town USA locations offer the same treatment for cats, too.
Robbins’ franchise would be the first for the company outside the Northeast. He’s currently scouring the county for a location, particularly in south Forsyth. Robbins expects to open the facility sometime in early 2019.
But Robbins is undaunted by the prospect of being a business owner. After all, he rose to the rank of staff Sergeant in the Reserves. There he became responsible for the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense section of his battalion. It was his job to train reservists on how to stay safe in dangerous toxic environments.
Pretty soon, he’ll create a safe environment for animals like his family’s two mutts.
“We love animals,” Robbins said. “It sounds like a very challenging thing to build a very niche business and make it successful (but) I love working with animals. It drew me in.”