Marcie’s Pet Spa offers dogs a home away from home
Marcie Culver and her sons, Nolan and Adam, started boarding dogs at their home with up to 20 to 25 dogs at a time; both Nolan and Adam would sleep with five dogs every night. “This is where Marcie’s started,” Culver said, adding that she wants clients to feel their pets are well loved when they’re dropped off.
Over the years, Culvers has opened Marcie’s Pet Spa in West Salem and Ripon and has continued to expand by taking on more services and a few new business partners.
Late last year, Culver, J.R. Schmidt and Tina Wehrs took over ownership of Pines Boarding Kennel in Sparta, which had been in continuous operation since 1989 under the ownership of Mark and Barb Mattke.
Since then, the business has been renamed Marcie’s Country Pet Spa and has undergone some cosmetic surgery; consisting of cleaning, painting and reorganizing. Marcie’s has also expanded its services to include not only boarding but also grooming, training and daycare.
According to Culver, the biggest transformation is that the business is now open from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every weekday with a full time groomer there at all times.
Culver admits that it takes her a long time to trust somebody. Even if that somebody comes with perfect credentials, Culver needs to know that it will be a good fit with her current employees and her establishments as Culver and her business partners now own three locations in total.
Tracy McKenzie worked as a groomer at Marcie’s Pet Spa in West Salem. Culver chose McKenzie to run Marcie’s in Sparta and now she oversees all of the day-to-day operations, runs the boarding, grooms and also lives on the property.
“Tracy is really just an extension of what we’ve always done. She is the only reason I bought this place because I can’t run it and none of my other employees are going to live out here. She’s such a leader,” Culver said about McKenzie and the decision to buy the business. “When you buy a place like this you have got to have the right person who is going to put their blood, sweat and tears into it like these guys have done.”
“I think the biggest thing is that you have to be able to treat it as your own. It’s a direct reflection of you and what you put into it,” McKenzie added. “You also have to feel a certain security from the owner; you have to have that relationship.”
Marcie’s newest addition is trainer Sandra Neilland. Neilland has independently run her own business, Never Too Old Dog Training, for close to five years now spending her time traveling to people’s homes to train their dogs.
“I chased down Marcie, we met a couple of times and I threw out some proposals of what it was I was looking to do and she said she had this space available to expand,” Neilland said, adding Marcie’s will be converting a garage on the property into a doggie daycare and training facility.
“We needed to grow and we needed daycare. You utilize what you have and this garage was the perfect thing. I was going to do it next year and it was just going to be a daycare but then we came together,” Culver said. “She has put her time in. She’s successful, she’s a great trainer and she’s going to be a good fit out here.”
The new space is scheduled to be up and running within a month or so, according to contractor Jeremy Anderson.
“We never worry about things out here ever. I try to be bossy and throw my two cents in once in a while but in the grand scheme of things, I really have no say here,” Culver joked. “I’m not here and when I walk in and I see something, I don’t need to comment on it.”
For now, Neilland and McKenzie are running Marcie’s in Sparta with a few groomers scheduled to join the crew in the near future. McKenzie said there’s always something to do.
“I’m the receptionist, the manager, the groomer, the boarding person, the errand runner and that’s fine,” she joked.
Marcie’s will continue to make improvements as time allows since the business never stopped operations throughout the change in ownership.
“I think that’s something that our customers didn’t realize, the doors never closed here. There was no time to come in and say, ‘this needs to be done or redone,’” Neilland said. “We have literally been painting and cleaning around everything.”
“You just have to go with it. You have to look past the cosmetics of anything and not just look at it how it sits,” McKenzie added. “You have to see that this place has got so much potential for the future. There is always room for growth.”