Airport Pet Boarding Facility to Reopen with New Owner
Now Boarding, a full-service pet care center located five minutes from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, will reopen Monday, Feb. 15, under new ownership. The facility closed in mid-July 2020 due to a pandemic-induced decline in air travelers.
Adam Jennings purchased the business from the Animal Humane Society in January. Although Now Boarding will no longer be affiliated with the animal welfare organization, Jennings plans to run the facility with much of the same infrastructure in place.
“I want to bring this place back to the full glory it had when the Animal Humane Society owned it,” Jennings said. “What they built was really special, and I want to do everything I can to honor that legacy and continue to build on it.”
That includes hiring back many of the 42 staff members who were laid off in July. So far, Jennings has rehired 15 former employees, and he plans on reaching out to more as Now Boarding grows. The Animal Humane Society founded the facility in 2008.
Lori Larson, who previously worked at Now Boarding in an administrative and financial role, is returning as general manager.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the team, our clients, and their pets,” Larson said. “We become family for them, and I’ve missed them.”
The nearly 30,000-square-foot facility can hold upwards of 200 dogs, cats, and other critters at one time. In order to properly follow CDC Covid-19 guidelines, services will roll out in phases, beginning with boarding, day care, and baths and nail trims. Grooming and training will be reintroduced later on.
Hand sanitation stations have been installed throughout the building, and every employee will be temperature-checked and symptom-screened daily. Social distancing and face masks will be required.
Curbside dropoff and pickup are mandatory for the time being, though Covid-19 regulations don’t affect Now Boarding’s pet capacity. Reservations can be made online or over the phone.
Now Boarding is open 24/7. It also offers parking and shuttles to customers flying in to or out of MSP Airport.
To be sure, Jennings faces a challenging business climate. According to the Metropolitan Airports Commission, total passenger traffic at the MSP Airport fell to 14.9 million in 2020, a 62 percent decrease from 2019.
Despite the pandemic’s harsh effects on the travel industry — and subsequent hit to pet boarding — Jennings is optimistic about 2021. He says that if Now Boarding makes enough money to break even, he’ll consider that to be a success.
“I truly believe our darkest days are behind us, with regards to Covid; I think we are on the upswing,” Jennings said. “I’m going to make sure we’re well-capitalized so we can weather any storm. There was a lot that was unknown last spring, and initially when we heard about Covid, there was a lot of fear. As time progressed throughout 2020, we learned more about the virus and how to manage it in our daily lives.”
Jennings has heard from numerous past clients, many of whom already received their first vaccine, who are eager to travel and bring their pets to Now Boarding again. He’s even started booking for the holidays this December.
“I can’t wait to see the crew back together—I’ve been using the phrase, ‘Hey, let’s get the band back together,’” Jennings said. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch the camaraderie as people have come back on board. There’s just a buzz about the place.”