We had the good fortune of connecting with Spencer Mak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Spencer, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I didn’t want to answer emails until I died… but seriously… I have only really worked for 2 companies in my entire career, and in both roles I found myself climbing the ladder very quickly, working my way into leadership and executive roles – but as I climbed higher, I felt detached from the work. Emails, conference calls, work trips… I was starting to feel really detached from my role as it became more about tasks and deadlines than it was about people and passion.
The more that I thought about it – the harder it hit me, that the longer I stayed in a job I didn’t love – climbing a ladder with more responsibility and more higher pay, the more years I spent chasing a promotion instead of chasing my purpose, the harder it would be when it was finally time to step away. So at 30 years old with a 6 figure income, and a baby on the way – I took the plunge.
What should our readers know about your business?
Our business was founded on unwavering morals for the care and training of dogs. Our daycare/boarding is staffed 24/7 and we have one of the lowest Dog to Hander ratios in the business. We are a small operation, but we have a huge staff to ensure exemplary care for our dogs. Our leadership is amazing and goes out of their way to ensure each owner gets a ‘pupdate’ photo and blurb about their dogs special day with us.
I as the Owner work 7 days a week offering private sessions and group classes. We have been full since we’ve opened and have a wait list that goes out for 6-8 weeks. When I started the facility, it was myself, a manager, and 1 employee. Now less than 1 year later, we are a team of 15 strong – 3 managers, and a dedicated kennel staff for round the clock care.
Because of our growth and our business model – we are now ramping up to open a 2nd location!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Escape rooms. It’s our vice. My wife and I have completed over 150 escape rooms around the world, and still hold the record for many of them. Working together, solving challenges, setting records, then smashing them.
One of my personal favorite restaurants is Sumomaya – the guacamole and Miso Sea Bass. For a casual steak – DC Steakhouse in Chandler. For a fancy steak – Mastro’s Ocean Club in Scottsdale.
I would definitely take a trip to Odysea aquarium – we are annual pass holders and our new baby girl, Ellie absolutely loves the clown fish tank.
Lauren and I were married in Sedona at L’Auberge. So a trip up there would be in order as well. We’d have burgers at Open Range and Mexican at El Rincon.
If there was still time after that – we’d do a whirlwind trip out to San Diego for Baja Rockin’ Lobster and the Dog Beach at Coronado!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe every ounce of my success to my family, my wife, and my client base. They are the ones who give me permission to do what I do.
My business started in my mom’s house 10 years ago. I emptied out her living room and replaced it with dog kennels. I slept in the downstairs bedroom, right next to the dogs so that I would always be there when they needed me. My mom was my biggest supporter from day one, and without her, I don’t know that I would be anywhere near who I am today. My mom passed away in May of 2015 from a very aggressive cancer. Her passing put the perspective of time into play for me. She was nearing retirement, her and my dad had money put away. Her two boys were married, my brother the pharmacist, and her son the Entrepreneur. She had grandkids on the way and was on the cusp of reaping the rewards for all of her hard work. It was devastating – but it gave me the motivation I needed to stop dragging my feet and coming up with all the reasons I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. As I got focused on removing obstacles for what I really wanted – I gained so much traction and momentum.
My wife is my best friend. My COO – my partner. When I approached her and told her I was preparing to give up a 6 figure salary – risk our savings account – and chase this dream, she never had an moment of doubt or hesitation. Her questioning was pragmatic, and she was by my side the whole time we were scouting locations, working through zoning, and working through all of our start up tasks. For the first 6 months of our business, I slept at the facility to ensure 24/7 care for the animals – and she was totally supportive of me – despite being pregnant and working FT while I focused on getting us operational.