While their owners jet off to exotic locations, some dogs in the western suburbs settle in comfortably to the Adogo Pet Hotel in Minnetonka.
John Sturgess opened Adogo’s doors in February 2011 after spending more than 20 years working in operations and development in what he calls the “human hotel business” for companies including Carlson Hotels Worldwide. Sturgess sought to combine his hospitality business experience with his love of dogs to create an upscale canine crash pad.
“Here it’s not about people coming into town. It’s about people leaving town. We don’t call them kennels, we call them rooms,” says Sturgess.
The Adogo facility features 93 rooms for dogs, five of which are considered suites. One suite offers a flat-screen TV with a DVD player.
“We’ve actually had a couple of customers bring DVDs,” says Sturgess.
Adogo offers boarding, day care, training and grooming services. Sturgess said that for 2013, the company’s revenue was in the range of $1.2 million to $1.5 million and is shedding a healthy profit. Sturgess and his wife Stacey own the business, which has 27 employees.
Sturgess, who has an MBA from the University of Minnesota, envisions the Minnetonka location—an office/warehouse building before being renovated for Adogo—as the beginning of a dog hotel chain that will reach beyond the Twin Cities. He thinks that he has collared a successful business model and says that he’s in the process of finalizing details for a planned second location to open this year in Maple Grove.
“Our goal is to open up several of these over the next five years. That’s the vision I have,” says Sturgess, who notes that he’s also scouting locations in the Chicago area.
Even amid a bumpy economy, industry statistics show that Americans continue to spend even more money on their beloved pets. The Greenwich, Conn.-based American Pet Products Association estimated that Americans spent $55.5 billion their pets in 2013, up from $32.4 billion a decade ago in 2003. That’s an increase of more than 70 percent in a period that includes some tough years for the overall economy.
Adogo is billed as the “Preferred Dog Hotel” of Chanhassen-based Life Time Fitness Inc. Natalie Bushaw, director of public relations for Life Time Fitness, says that Adogo is part of the Member Advantage program, which offers discounts on products and services for Life Time members. “We know a lot of our Life Time members have pets,” says Bushaw.
Sturgess also serves on the board of New Hope-based Can Do Canines, which provides service dogs without charge for people with disabilities. Alan Peters, executive director of Can Do Canines, says that Sturgess has helped to connect the small nonprofit with the business community.
“He’s a great marketer. He knows how to do it,” Peters says. “He’s able to connect us to a lot of people who would like to know about us.”
Sturgess doggedly researched his pet hotel concept for a decade while still working for companies that operate hotels for people.
“My entire career was in the human hotel business. I think we’re offering a better product at a better location,” Sturgess says of Adogo. “I jumped into the deep end of the pool. I left corporate America to do this. This is a dream. I couldn’t be happier.”