Mischelle Hutchison and Holly Utzinger, Owners
Tailwinds Pet Resort
“Even when you think you know it all, you won’t. Keep searching for ways to get smarter.”
The newest resort in town is for a very energetic kind of clientele. Tailwinds Pet Resort is catering only to the needs of our four-legged friends and doing so in high style. This full-service pet resort provides services specifically for dogs and cats, boasts 5,000 square feet on a half-acre lot and offers a wide array of pet-friendly perks.
Opening the resort has been the culmination of a lifelong dream for its two owners, Holly Utzinger and Mischelle Hutchison.
“Always wanting to have my own business and getting there is pretty thrilling,” Utzinger says.
Tailwinds’ state-of-the-art facility is bringing a new face to the world of pet care and it doesn’t skimp on a thing. It provides overnight boarding, daycare, a full-service grooming salon and a mobile grooming service. Unlike traditional pet centers, the pricing model is very straightforward and offers myriad options for the pets at no extra cost. Security cameras, separate air conditioning units for each building, and flat screen TVs are just some of the amenities that will be standard to pet guests.
The resort is comprised of three specially designed buildings that feature a round shape to decrease noise and give the animals a panoramic view of their surroundings. The two larger buildings include 4-by-6 standard rooms and 8-by-6 grand rooms for larger animals or multipet families. An additional, slightly smaller building consists of 2-by-4 petite rooms for the smaller pet guests. Ample outdoor space is the setting for integrated play for dogs of similar sizes, ages and energy levels that have been approved for this fun activity.
As for cats, they will have all the comforts of a real-life apartment, because that’s exactly where they will be. The specially-outfitted apartment includes a working kitchen, appliances and all the details that make cats feel right at home.
The owners’ currently are working to acquire the Pet Care Services Association (formerly ABKA) gold accreditation for Tailwinds. In order to achieve this, the resort must adhere to strict standards set by the Pet Care Services Association. Franchising the concept and facility design is a long-term ambition they also hope to achieve.
To fulfill their shared dream of an initial pet resort like Tailwinds, Utzinger and Hutchison combined their respective career specialties. In 25 years in the IT industry, Utzinger was able to hone her business chops in preparation for launching her own venture. Hutchison, on the other hand, has spent the last quarter century in the pet industry, and along the way has opened a kennel, several shops and even a mobile grooming business. After meeting through mutual friends, the idea for a pet resort was born.
The Tailwinds journey hasn’t been an easy one. City-imposed rules and regulations for construction took three years to work out and had many doubting whether the resort would ever open.
“I had other developers call me crazy (because) I was still proceeding,” Utzinger says.
There also were issues with Utzinger’s Small Business Administration loan that dragged on for months and left her feeling uneasy. The issues were finally resolved when Utzinger opted to switch banks and was able to close the loan in only two months. After doing some research, Utzinger discovered that the first bank had been in financial trouble.
“My responses to how these (challenges) were overcome were, ‘This is my new career, my dream, I am not giving up,’” Utzinger says.
In the end, Tailwinds officially opened its doors in February, exactly six years after the property was bought. The long process has made the opening even more special for the owners and at the heart of it all, is their shared loved of animals. Utzinger says her favorite aspect of Tailwinds is “playing with all the pets and watching the expressions of the clients upon their first visit. The most common response is ‘Wow!’”
During the course of planning and finally opening the business, Utzinger can’t stress enough the importance of having had the support of those around her.
“Make sure you have family and friends that can support you when things look hopeless and you’re ready to give up. If you have the vision, you should stick with it,” Utzinger says.
She also credits the SBA with helping Tailwinds get off the ground and leaving no stone left unturned.
“I can’t say enough about the positive impact the SBA had on the whole process. They really make you think and uncover things you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of,” she says.
The best part of fulfilling their dreams? “Offering pet owners a ‘real’ pet resort in the downtown area. So many people have come in and said ‘It’s about time!’”