Cranbrook pet business seeks votes to be B.C.’s best

The Playpen Pet Boarding and Grooming is among businesses up for Best Company Award from Small Business BC's annual Successful You awards.

A growing local pet grooming and boarding business is looking for votes from the community to become one of B.C.’s best.

The Playpen Pet Boarding and Grooming is among 26 other businesses in the province up for Best Company Award from Small Business BC’s annual Successful You awards.

The business has been burgeoning since its humble beginnings four and a half years ago and has undergone expansion not only physically but in staff as well.

Karla Shalley said she couldn’t have done it without her base of 1,000 loyal customers that have seen a 3,000 square foot expansion including the addition of pet groomers and a new small dog escape for boarding toy breeds.

“They have their own space,” Shalley said of the smaller dog breeds that spend time at the boarding facility.

The company has been in operation for less than five years, but it has already gone from just Shalley and one part-time employee to eight employees.

Shalley said one of her greatest accomplishments has been sending several of her staff away to school to become dog groomers, further expanding what she can offer clients.

“We’ve expanded quite drastically in the four and a half years we’ve been in business,” she said. The Playpen now boasts four professional pet stylists.

Shalley said the Playpen has elevated the pet boarding industry, providing what she says is a five-star experience in a two-star industry.

“It’s a home away from home,” she said. “Our number one is care of our clients.”

It’s easy to tell when a customer is happy at the Playpen. Shalley said it’s all in the wagging tails and the trouble pet owners have getting their cats and dogs to leave after a stay.

But the Playpen’s footprint — or shall we say, pawprint — on the Cranbrook community has been much larger than just providing a comfortable, fun place for dogs and cats to stay when their owners go on vacation. Shalley said the business has been a big supporter of the East Kootenay SPCA and has donated funds to set up bins for pet waste throughout the city. Bins have or are in the process of being  set up at Idlewild, the Community Forest, Elizabeth Lake and more. In total, the Playpen has contributed $15,000 to the community over its years.

“We’re very community based,” she said.

The business has also helped home several dogs that were without a loving family, and they rescued a dog from euthanization.

“We’re very passionate about animals,” Shalley said.

“We’ve been really instrumental in a lot of community-based projects.”

The Successful You awards are for B.C. businesses with 50 or less employees. All the votes are tallied based on population, which gives a business like Shalley’s Playpen an even chance over those with a larger customer base in metropolitan areas like Vancouver.

“Obviously we have a smaller customer base than those in Vancouver,” Shalley said. “We only have thousands of people who actually live here. It makes it fair.”

The company put its own name forward, and from there the votes stream in to name the winner. Voting has opened and will run until December 13, when the top 10 finalists will be chosen. Judges will announce the top five businesses who will win it all on January 30, 2013.  Voting can be done online at www.successfulyou.ca and the winners will be announced at the Successful You Awards Ceremony on February 28, 2013. For more on the Playpen visit them online at theplaypenpet.com.