In April 2012, Don and I moved to Ocala from Des Moines, Iowa. The original goal was for me to go to school for health services, either nursing or occupational therapy, and for Don to transfer from his job at Best Buy in Des Moines to the Best Buy in Ocala. We had come to look at the property and put a down payment on it a month before, and he’d gone in to talk to the manager at Best Buy while we were here and had been verbally “guaranteed” a job when he got here. The manager even contacted his manager at the Best Buy in Des Moines to verify he was a good employee.
In the course of the month before we moved but after we’d been here, he tried to contact the same Ocala manager a number of times with no success. Determining that we’d already purchased the property and he’d already given his notice at his Des Moines location, he came down anyway. The plan was for me to stay for the summer in Iowa and finish up classes there, and then come down in the fall of 2012.
When he got here, to make a long story short, there was no job for him at Best Buy, whether from miscommunication, forgetfulness or whatever, the lady acted like she’d never heard of him. He resorted to back up plan number one, become a pizza delivery driver like he had a million times before throughout his life.
Pizza delivery in Ocala is a different beast than it is in Des Moines. For one thing, the statement “you can’t get there from here” applies to Ocala in a whole new way. You may have to go 2 miles from point A to point B “as the crow flies,” but using a car on the road can take up to half an hour and 15 miles to get there, as Don soon found out. To add to that, apparently, tipping hasn’t been updated in Ocala since the 1960’s, and getting 1 or 2 dollar tips per delivery, if any, wasn’t cutting it in the wages department. Since he was delivering pizzas using a 1992 Camaro that needed a tune up badly, he sometimes lost more money than he made in a night.
In our evening phone conversations, we discussed options, and plans changed for a few reasons. While we were both still in Iowa preparing for the move, I had been frustrated one evening while searching online for jobs here and not being able to find any suitable Ocala job for myself, I spouted out that “oh phooey, when we move to Ocala I’m just going to start my own pooper scooping business! There aren’t very many in the area.”
Don immediately informed me that he still had the information about starting a pet sitting business that he had purchased a few years earlier when between jobs, and we talked about it a bit, but not seriously.
So, fast forward a few months and he is not making any money delivering pizza, and I am frustrated about still being stuck in Iowa while he was here in our new home. It was decided that I would move down sooner and that when I got here, we’d do what needed to be done to start our own business. I got here the end of April 2012 and we had paperwork all filed and done on May 1, 2012 and 1st Rate Pet Services was born!
As for our backgrounds, Don has always been an entrepreneurial spirit and has had a number of other self employment ventures throughout his life. I had always been of the “work for somebody else” mindset until my son got older and I started wishing for the next 20 years to hurry by so I could retire and do something I wanted to do. When I resigned from my state job in Iowa and decided to go back to school for a new career, I did not have any idea that 3 years later I’d be a business owner. I just wanted to be able to do something other than what I’d done for the past 16 years or so. I have always been crazy about animals and often said that if I could do anything I wanted as a job, I would do “something with animals.”
Once we made the decision to start 1st Rate Pet Services, it all seemed to fall into place. We’ve had ups and downs, but both of us love what we do and we hope to continue to grow our business so we can do the best job we can possibly do for our customers and their beloved pets for many years to come.