Just bark, few bites for mobile dog-groomers

Like so many people who make the move to the Central Coast, Chuck and Sue Gasperson transitioned their careers. They had been map-makers for Thomas Brothers Maps, and they became the owners of multiple mobile dog-grooming vans. In 1999, when their company was bought by Rand-McNally, they moved to Los Osos to help Sue’s sister. Meanwhile, another friend, Jan Barber, had started the area’s first mobile dog-grooming business, Shampooches. Barber was overwhelmed with business and offered to teach Chuck everything she knew about how to handle the dogs without hurting them.

“It was all about customer service,” Gasperson said. “Jan believed the most important dog is the one you are grooming right now. We operate the same way today.”

Sue explained her husband was a natural to take over the business when Barber moved to Arizona. They renamed it Splish Splash Mobile Dog Bath. “He couldn’t say no to customers, so we bought more vans and added more groomers.”

Formerly the business manager, Sue now works for McMillan Study Guides. By 2008, they owned two vans specializing in small dogs and four for larger dogs.

“We decided to decrease to one van about five years ago. We offered the vans to our groomers. They probably wouldn’t or couldn’t have done it on their own.”

Chuck added, “It is just cool to get them into their own businesses. They have to work harder, but it’s for themselves.”

Even in the lagging economy, the business was there. Chuck touted the mobile grooming business benefits.

“It’s convenient,” he said. “All we need is a place to park. The dogs are not caged, so stress free. They are taken care of in 90 minutes at your home. We might never see the owner. The dogs are our customers.”

The fully modified vans ran about $75,000. Gasperson sold to Julianna Epperly (Pampered Paws), Michael Bove (Wash-n-Waggin), Brenda Brebes (Brenda’s Mobile Dog Bath) and Aaron Stallings, (K-Nine Mobile Dog Grooming) and leases to Jan Barber in Arizona.

When Chuck considers retirement, he thinks of the wonderful people he gets to meet: “It is a great job. I love to drive the county and see what’s going on, stop and talk to customers, and they give me money. We like to volunteer at Woods Humane Society. If I sold the business, it would have to be the right person.”

Gasperson has about 300 active customers and will groom six to 10 dogs per day. Smiling, he teased he’s been bitten no more than five times.

“All dogs are sweet,” he said. Everyone has a dog for their own reasons. Please, take care of them. We have lots of things. Our dogs only have us, their owner.”