Owners of Blowing Springs Kennel opened their business three years ago in the midst of the recession and are now expanding and adding employees.
“If you look at the economic numbers in businesses, one of the few sections that haven’t been affected greatly is the pet market,” owner Bob Foster said. “They still want to spend money on their dogs.”
The business lasted through the recession — which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 — and has managed to thrive in subsequent tough economic conditions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010-11 Occupational Handbook, the animal care and service workers — who include animal caretakers and trainers — will have “excellent job opportunities for most positions.”
The industry is expected to have much faster than average employment growth and will add job openings.
Employment of animal care and service workers is expected to grow 21 percent — about 45,500 new positions — between 2008 and 2018, according to the bureau.
Bev Eitner, managing partner of Play Dog Excellent, located at 4113 Dayton Boulevard, said that her business has also been recession resistant.
The business turned a 2 percent profit last year, but that is down from a 20 percent profit in recent years.
It’s still an increase and so she isn’t complaining, but tough economic times have meant higher utility costs.
And from dog food to toilet paper — the cost of supplies is also higher.
“This year I’m kind of worried because we just got sweeping, across-the-board increases from all our supplies,” Eitner said.
Play Dog Excellent offers training, boarding and day care.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, aging baby boomers who have pets and disposable income is part of the reason the industry will thrive in the coming years but Einter said that some of her clients are making the choice to budget in the cost of the service to take care of their animals.
Blowing Springs Kennel expansion
Currently the Flintstone, Ga., the business has a 400-square-foot office and a separate kennel building that has 20 kennel runs.
Foster and his business partner Roddy Reynolds are adding another kennel building, office and training area to their 30 acres of land.
They are also currently adding four or five more full and part-time staff members to their six-person workforce.
The majority of the business’ customers are from Chattanooga, but Foster said that Reynolds has developed a reputation as a well-respected trainer and that helps draw business from around the country.
“We spend 90 percent of time teaching people and 10 percent teaching dogs,” Foster said. “ We use language and body language and very practical methods.”
The company is hiring and Foster said that potential employees don't need very much experience with animals, because the techniques they use are unique to the business.
Saving money and working with investors funded the expansion of the business, which is based on passion, Foster said.
"It's truly one of those businesses that we both took a hobby and turned into a business," he said.