#LearningCurve: Kennel owners have all tails wagging

Sardinia Bay Kennels owner Aidon Lippstreu says a love for animals like his Belgian malinois Argo is one the reasons he was able to make a career out of his passion
Picture Fredlin Adriaan

A passion for dogs that extends through generations led to a business offering all things dog-related

Lifelong animal lover Aidon Lippstreu turned his passion into a profession and even found the love of his life, Cardel, in the process – and together they established the Sardinia Bay Kennels about seven years ago.

The 38-year-old’s passion for dogs extends through generations, with his father, Anthony, formerly a member of the National Defence Force Airforce dog unit.

Lippstreu says he hopes the same passion will be passed on to his children Caleb, 9, Rebecca, 6, and Milah, 1.

This generational love for animals is what Lippstreu believes will be the key factor to the family’s success in continuing delivering canine firsts in the Bay.

What is your core service?

We offer premium dog boarding kennels (Sardinia Bay Kennels) and specialist K9 training (Sardinia Bay K9 Academy).

These services have also expanded into family protection dog training, home obedience courses, dog sport training, dog food sales and accessories, farm dog walks, doggie daycare, grooming, a K9 boarding school for those needing a boost to their dog’s obedience training regime, dog demonstrations/K9 fear factor, trailers and K9 transport systems, a dog park, a kid’s educational holiday camp, K9 fun runs and a volunteer programme.

What made you venture into this type of industry?

A lifelong passion for dogs stemming from my father Anthony, and because we always had dogs growing up.

I received my first German shepherd at 13 and have been training and later instructing others ever since. I met my future wife, Cardel, through the training of her Rottweiler too after she was told to put him down!

When did you see the opportunity to start the business?

We had and still have various existing dog-related businesses/ services such as the wholesale/retail and delivery of dog food and accessories, training of dogs for obedience and protection, a pet food and accessory store, accredited security dog and dog handler training, and patrol dog rentals – the acquisition of the boarding kennels’ property was our opportunity to consolidate them all into one place.

What makes your business unique?

We are successful not because we are big or have been long established, but because we are a hands-on family management team who eat, sleep, dream and live this K9 farm life. Our services are all designed with the dog’s best interests at heart and implemented so that they all compliment each other.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

Our success has been largely based on years and years of personal experience, being a consumer of everything pet industry- related and an unending ambition to be your first and last choice with respect to all things dog.

We’d suggest that one volunteer first train/certify accordingly, gain experience and earn your stripes in the pet industry.

What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?

There is unfortunately no single gazetted information sheet regarding the health and welfare of our pooches in South Africa and thus client education regarding vaccinations, deworming and tick/flea control for their dogs has been and continues to be an ongoing process.

Any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?

Don’t believe everything you hear and read regarding starting your own business.

There isn’t as yet one complete book for every South African industry. Find a mentor within the market you identify with and start there.

What are some of the biggest challenges in running the dayto-day side of the business?

Trying to fit our own personal dog training schedule into the daily schedule and get all our daily hugs in from all the furry client boarders/K9 boarding school dogs.

What are the some of the best practices that have made your business successful?

Excellent verbal and written communication with clients as to our requirements and their expectations.

Our health protocols and paperwork trail/checklists regarding your dog’s time with us are unparalleled.

How did you decide on pricing?

Market research and client acceptance that awesome services are not necessarily the cheapest.

How do you advertise your business?

Word of mouth, social media and school magazines.

What is your company’s vision?

To be the centre of all things dog in PE.

What is your target market?

Every dog owner.

What are some of your highlights in running your business?

Meeting every new dog (and owner), welcoming returning furry friends and their humans and watching those ‘light bulb’ moments when an owner/handler and dog achieve their latest training goal.

How many people does your enterprise employ?

Currently seven.

Do you have plans to expand your business and how would you do this?

Yes, we have recently launched our K9 Kidz Holiday Camps and we are currently opening our dog park up to the public, as well as a coffee bar so that you can have coffee or a cappuccino while you enjoy the tranquil valley of Sardina Bay with your dog. We will also be upgrading our pamper/grooming parlour soon with the addition of a full-time dog groomer.

How did you get funding for your business?

Through a business plan submission to investors/financial institutions, personal savings and existing business cash injections.

Once you secured funding, what was your first step?

Scheduling the birth of our second child, consolidating our existing business/services into and onto the kennels and property and deciding when to take over and become PE’s own dog world!

Leave a Reply