Mike & Michelle Elder, Hound Dog Depot, Brookneal

Sometimes the solution to a problem becomes much more than a solution, it becomes a business. Such is the case of Michelle and Mike Elder. As avid owners of competition hunting dogs, the Elders knew there had to be a better method of identifying the dogs during the competitive events than the current method involving shaving or painting the numbers onto the animals. It seemed silly and inhumane to do that to a specially trained and expensive competition dog.

Michelle began toying with the idea of creating a “field-jacket” that the dog would wear. On the jacket were numbers that could be interchanged, depending on the assigned number for a particular round of competition. Having successfully created a breathable, flexible canvas jacket, the Elder’s donned their dogs in their new invention and entered them in a local competition. And that is when they learned just how popular their solution would become.

When Michelle contacted the Region 2000 SBDC, she had already been successfully filling orders for her jackets for almost nine months. During that time she had produced over 200 and had outstanding orders of close to fifty more. Having never expected the “solution” to become a business, she requested help from the SBDC in the form of business planning, funding, employee relations, production methods, etc. She stated that they were barely keeping up with the demand and yet they had not even begun to advertise. It was explained to her that it was a good problem to have.

Since beginning work with the Region 2000 SBDC, Michelle and Mike have formed their corporation, hired their first employee, increased production due to increased demand, created their website, and started marketing at full speed. The orders continue to pour in with steady increase. Due to their quick success, they plan to offer numerous products for dogs of all types on their website in the future.

The Region 2000 SBDC continues to assist the Elder’s as their business continues to grow. Plans are to hire additional staff and increase the size of their production facility in the near future.

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Virginia SBDC