Pet Age’s Tom Mazorlig spoke with Chuck Simons, founder of Groomer’s Helper, about the history of the company and its successful business partnerships.
Tom Mazorlig: Tell me about the history of Groomer’s Helper.
Chuck Simons: My wife and I had a small pet grooming shop in Ventnor, New Jersey. One day this wonderful man—may he rest in peace—Dr. R. K. Anderson sent us this little aluminum clamp with a wingnut on it called the Alpha Lock. When I saw the Alpha Lock I said, “Holy mackerel, look at this!” I took it and put it on my grooming arm and hooked it right to my grooming loop. It put the dog in a cross tie. We’ve been cross tying horses for thousands of years. It’s a rope from one side of the stall to the halter and one to the other side of the stall. It controls the horse’s head and when the horse realizes that he is in the cross tie, he calms. It reduced the area the dog could turn and bite by 90 percent and reduced the area in which the groomer could get bitten.
The Alpha Lock was not selling to groomers because it’s hard to groom a dog with a muzzle on. It became prominent when it turned into the Groomer’s Helper because it held the loop itself and instead of the dog being able to jump or fall off the table, it makes it safer. PetSmart and Petco tested it and it has reduced injuries to groomers and pets substantially. The Groomer’s Helper is a fantastic time saver and will allow the groomer two or three more grooms per day, making it a huge money maker.
Tom: Groomer’s Helper is the distributor for the ActiVet brushes. How did that partnership come about?
Chuck: Originally, the brushes were made by a private label in Germany, but there was a falling out with the U.S. distributor. When I was at InterZoo in Nuremburg, Jerry Knoll asked me to come see the brushes. He had redressed them. He made them with color-coded handles indicating what they were and the tops were now white. These were brushes that everyone was dying to get. I asked him what I had to do to bring these brushes back to the United States. Jerry knew me from the shows and trusted me, so he gave me the North American distributorship. Two SuperZoos ago is when we reintroduced them to the United States. They’ve been a phenomenal success.
Tom: What makes these brushes special?
Chuck: They’ve had 22 years to develop their product. This is German stainless steel with blunted pins. It’s a flexible headed brush, so instead of your wrist doing the work, it’s the flexible head that does the work. They are double-sided and double-headed, so that’s going to do twice the area and there’s no stopping between brushing.
Tom: How did the partnership with Dog Fashion Spa come about?
Chuck: For many years, there has been the same-old shampoo with fragrances. At Interzoo, I met a gentleman named Domenico Ponti and his significant other is Elena Volnova. Their products are all natural, use essential oils, and everything is made in the USA. They have a wonderful line of products that go along with the shampoos, such as a glass nail file, non-acetone based nail polish and nail polish remover, a nose brush and a skin and coat conditioner that is absolutely phenomenal.
The products are really fantastic but it’s tough for a company to start out brand new and sell ones and twos for wholesale at these shows. I came up with an elite dealership plan. For $2,000 a grooming shop can have a complete line of these products. We give them $500 worth of free shampoo, fragrances and support materials for the back of the store so they can use the products on the dogs. When the people pick up their dogs at the front counter and say, “Where can I buy this stuff?” the groomer can point to the free kiosk and there it is. The dog is their salesperson, so there is a chance for a sale on every groom. They make 100 percent profit. They have six months to pay and at the end of the six months if they don’t think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, we will buy every product back from them for what they paid for it.
We are really committed to the groomers. Retail will give them an extra $50-$75,000 per year. This gives them one product line to buy from one company. They don’t have to worry about going to different companies and pricing.
It rounded out our line with brushes and now the shampoos, coat conditioners and Groomer’s Helper. PetLift is now making our tub insert. Groomers have been asking me to get something in the tub because they are getting severely bitten there. I’ve developed an insert for the tub that allows the groomers to use Groomer’s Helper in the tub. We should have the full prototype available for the InterGroom show in June.