Mark Shaffer has lived most of his life in the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks, which is also the location of the first Walmart. So, it isn’t a surprise that his career included time with the retail giant, where he rose through the company ranks during his tenure. In 2008 Mark Shaffer took an “early retirement”, due to being displaced from his corporate job with Walmart, “after 26 years with the company.” He explains, “I believe the change afforded me the opportunity to take time off and regroup.”
While he stepped away from the corporate workforce, he ran a consulting business for retail operations and human resources for a few years, then Mark went to work as the general manager of Pig Trail Harley Davidson in Rogers, AR, thinking it would be a good fit, as a motorcycle enthusiast. Turns out, the job was more work than fun and left little time to ride, so when opportunity presented itself, he went to work for MoneyGram International, a key Walmart supplier in the financial services area for six years. Due to unanticipated changes in the Walmart program with MoneyGram, he once again found himself displaced.
He moved on to become the Chief Operating Officer at EcoVet Furniture Co. “It was an honor working with the team. . .an organization run by veterans who build beautiful furniture from recycled materials out of de-commissioned semi-trailers.”
It was during his time with EcoVet that his best friend passed away. “He was an entrepreneur, and was always encouraging me to become an entrepreneur,” explains Mark. “His passing made me realize that having been displaced from the corporate world not once, but twice, and not being truly passionate about my career path, I really wasn’t in control of my future.”
From Corporate Refugee to Entrepreneur
So, he finally took the advice of his best friend, and began his entrepreneurial journey. His son Eric was exploring franchises, so they both met with a broker, who made an introduction to Aussie Pet Mobile. “They (Aussie Pet Mobile) were the ones who recommended Benetrends Financial, so I called.”
Mark had the cash to fund his business, and was prepared to make the investment, but during his conversation with Benetrends’ SBA specialist Jelena Kuchar, he learned about an alternative that not only allows him to keep his savings, but is designed to maximize his financial picture when the time comes to sell the business. Plus, he was able to keep his savings for other things.
“I used the Rainmaker Advantage Plan® with an SBA loan,” explains Mark. “It was a seamless procedure, but not without a mountain of paperwork. From the initial call to getting the funding, it only took 10 weeks.”
“With what I had heard of the SBA process, I was prepared for the worst. Benetrends made it easy. The entire staff, beginning with Jelena was professional and urgent in their approach to take care of my business. I would definitely recommend them to anyone going through this process.”
With funding in hand in April 2019, the process of training, hiring groomers and getting the mobile office began. Although they initially planned a June launch, Aussie Pet Mobile NW Arkansas officially opened on July 24, 2019.
The business is a family venture, with Mark, Eric, wife Cheryl, and daughter-in-law Kirsten involved in the operations of the business. With a menagerie of pets in their collective homes, they found this brand best suited their style and passion. The business model is a mobile grooming service. All Aussie mobile pet grooming vans are custom designed and self-contained units, stocked with grooming equipment, electricity and running water. Pets are given one-on-one pampering in the comfort of their own driveway.
With two groomers on staff, the business is quickly expanding, with a growing list of new and repeat clients. Cheryl says, “I think it’s going to be a fun adventure! We’ve already got another van coming in August!!!”
When it comes to their retirement plan and funding partnership, Mark says “I have confidence in the Benetrends organization, and I am confident they will guide me along the way.”
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