A New O-paw-tunity?

A New O-paw-tunity?

Adogo's John Sturgess hopes to backstop struggling small businesses.

Shortly after launching Adogo in 2011, a fast-growing pet hotel chain, CEO John Sturgess says entrepreneurs from around the country have been hounding him for advice. “Once we got through the first couple years, I started getting a bunch of calls from people within the industry,” he says. “Sometimes it was somebody that had trained dogs their whole life and they knew how to handle dogs, but they may not have known how to read a financial statement or handle marketing.” Other times it was someone with business chops who lacked pet industry experience.

The 20-year veteran of Carlson Hotels Worldwide and other hospitality companies says his unique blend of experience kept outsiders calling and ultimately persuaded him to create a consultancy aimed exclusively at pet-centric businesses.

“Unlike the human hotel business, where there are consultancies all over the place,” Sturgess says, “you don’t see those consultancies in the pet industry.” By the time he officially launched RetrieveOne Advisors, several clients had signed on.

Sturgess says RetrieveOne is designed to analyze a business end to end, looking for ways to improve its operations, marketing, economics and, most of all, the bottom line. According to Sturgess, the requests RetrieveOne receives most often involve marketing assistance.

His mantra, whatever the business niche, is “ ‘The process is the win, not the end result.’ ... If you follow the process, you will be successful.”

With the American Pet Products Association estimating U.S. spending on dogs, cats and other creatures at $70 billion annually, Sturgess sees ripe opportunity. “By 2019,” he says, “if we don’t have six people [double the current staff], we’ve done something wrong.”