Alex Mickley says his Active! Dog Daycare and Boarding business is growing faster than a Great Dane pup. He’s gone from a do-it-yourself model to employing a staff of eight, with one or two new positions on the immediate horizon. His Logan Square location is full of daycare dogs, with a waiting list of about 20, so he’s also looking at real estate.
Mickley used JVS Career & Employment to get his business started, and he continues to work with the Duman Employment Center, which supports both startups and existing businesses looking to expand.
Running a pet-related business was not Mickley’s childhood dream growing up in Elgin. He started out in the residential mortgage business, and then took a job at a pet-related business at the request of a friend. When he decided that he didn’t like how the company was structured, he struck out on his own.
“I went to a Duman Employment Center business seminar,” said Mickley. He began taking Duman Employment Center workshops in February 2013. Active! Chicago Dog Daycare and Boarding opened in July of that year.
“Much of the work we do with our startups comes after the loan,” said Smilovitch. “The education, mentorship and ongoing support we provide is critical to help small businesses move to the next stage of growth while minimizing any risk that may be associated with scaling a new enterprise.”
Mickley continues to work with the Duman Employment Center to prioritize his many plans.
“The first thing we want to do is to expand the dog walking service—because we can’t fit any more dogs in the daycare center,” he said. “We’d like to buy our Diversey location, and we’re looking at another location to lease. I’d eventually like to expand the business to Denver and Portland and to manufacture a line of outdoor gear for dogs. I’ve done a lot of camping, hiking and running with my boxer Ali, and that led me to ideas for a line. We are on the rise; everything is put together, and I think we are going to succeed.”
While dreaming of expanding to the West, Mickley has kept strong ties to the Logan Square community in Chicago where he lives and works.
“I love the people and the community; I’m proud to live here,” he said. To show his appreciation, he has been a strong proponent of the Logan Square dog park.
“We’ve done a series of fundraisers for the park, which just opened this year after being in the works for nine years,” he said. “I’ll be hosting seminars there on dog and park etiquette – co-branding and co-marketing with them.”