By Chuck Perry
Vice President, Wag’n Tails Mobile Pet Grooming Conversions
I spoke those fateful words more than 30 years ago as my wife explained her latest,
greatest idea: mobile pet grooming vans.
Dina heard about these vans working in sunny, warm Phoenix, Ariz. The problem was,
we lived in St. Paul, Minn., where temperatures dip below freezing about seven months of the year –
and sometimes well below zero. Winter calls for survival skills unknown to the rest of the country.
Dina already had a number of shops, and she reasoned that a fleet of vans
could reach more grooming customers for less money than continuing to open shops
in the various markets she wanted to cover.
It was a sound plan, yet I worried about the weather’s cooperation.
“But water freezes, and pipes break,” I countered.
First mobile salons purchased
Undaunted by my lack of enthusiasm, Dina ordered our first two Dodge 3500 vans in 1976.
At first, it seemed we’d be broke by December. How would we ever pay for these things?
Well, pay for them she did – and then some.
We learned by trial-and-error how to build and operate the mobile grooming salons in all conditions.
The first vans were primitive compared to what we build today, but they did the job.
By the mid-1980s we migrated to sunny Howell, Michigan, where it was downright balmy
compared to Minnesota. The fleet grew to 22 vehicles and two salons covering
central and southeastern Michigan.
Wag’n Tails Pet Resort, Canine Cosmetology open
Wag’n Tails Pet Resort opened to provide boarding for our grooming clients –
moving us closer to being a full service company.
As any groomer will attest, the biggest obstacle to growth is not finding dogs to groom,
but finding groomers to groom the dogs. Dina tried everything to attract groomers
or people who wanted to become groomers.
Career nights, visiting high school counselors – you name it, she tried it.
Grooming schools at that time were few and far between, so Dina decided that she needed
a school to train groomers who could work in her business.
The Michigan School of Canine Cosmetology was born.
The school grew rapidly, training not only new employees for Wag’n Tails,
but also accepting students from all over the country. The art of dog grooming
was well on its way out of the back of pet shops and vet clinics.
It was a profession of choice, not necessity.
And mobile grooming was becoming the choice of new groomers,
as well as shop groomers looking for a better way to serve clients and build business.
Wag’n Tails Mobile Conversions launches
Wag’n Tails Mobile Conversions was started in 1996
to meet the needs of the growing professional grooming business.
Our son, Dennis, purchased Wag’n Tails from us in December 1999.
We controlled the quantity as well as quality of our mobile grooming vans,
and business boomed. We quickly outgrew our first facility and, in January 2005,
we moved into our current 24,000-square-foot building.
Over time, Wag’n Tails added support staff as well as production people to meet
our customers’ needs. We now have 23 people dedicated to providing our customers
with the best grooming vehicles in the world, as well as outstanding service and support.
From the beginning – even when I wasn’t sure an idea would work –
I never doubted the success that comes from constantly looking for ways to serve our customers better.
To the nearly 1,000 groomers who have put their trust in us and purchased our grooming vehicles,
we say “Thank you for making us part of your success!”
To our future buyers: look to our beginnings to help plan your future.
When you are ready to “Put Your Dreams in Motion,” be assured we’ll be ready for you!