Selected from 1,500 businesses nationwide, Sacramento’s Animal Den Pet Resort made the finalist cut in SCORE’s fourth annual American Small Business Championship and has a shot at winning a $25,000 grand prize.
The expert business mentors in the SCORE Association volunteer their time to advise and guide small business owners. Their nonprofit organization, which created the contest to recognize exceptional businesses, divides the businesses into three different regions. Each region will give away a $25,000 prize, contributed by Sam’s Club.
“In my region, there are 35 business competing,” said Lisa Chafee, the owner of Animal Den since 2006. “If I won, I have a lot of available space where I’d like to put in a competitive agility ring.”
In dog agility, handlers direct dogs through an obstacle course where they score points for their time and accuracy. Each pooch tackles the course off leash and cannot be offered any incentives. Chafee said she would offer classes in the sport, providing another source of income.
Chafee last spoke with this columnist in September 2015 when she was completing a $1 million expansion of her business at 4060 Power Inn Road. Since then, her pet boarding business has grown by 67 percent.
“I could literally expand again, but I’m not going to do it,” Chafee told me. “My business has increased 67 percent. I have hit it out of the park. We are literally out of room in that new building I just built. … I’ve had to double my staff. Everything has doubled, in terms of expenses and staff.”
SCORE will announce the winners at a Sept. 14 gala in Washington, D.C. Chafee received a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card when she was named a finalist. The agility course will likely cost about $28,000 to construct, she said, so the prize would have a meaningful impact for her business.