American consumers spent $51 billion on their pets last year, and 62 percent of US households have pets, according to a Time magazine report. Pets have become part of the family, with consumers spending more on pet toys and healthcare and opting for pet motels instead of kennels.
Kamron and Vicky Fultz couldn’t agree more with this trend. While pursuing theater and music majors in college, they were cast opposite each other in the leading roles in a local theater production. Art brought this young couple together, but it’s the love of animals that brought them to the Rio Grande Valley. Here they manage Valley Pet Motel, which Kamron’s mother purchased recently. Vicky Fultz has worked in animal care for seven years, including time at the Animal Inn in Houston. Her husband is not a stranger to the industry either, for he grew up in the Valley admiring his grandfather, veterinarian Jack Valerius, who serves as the motel’s on-call veterinarian.
One year ago, the Fultzes began managing the Valley Pet Motel which is transitioning to the name Texas Pet Resort to better reflect their outlook on animal care. Their main focus is to provide a safe, hygienic, clean and efficient facility, so they have been busy remodeling and expanding the property. Following new industry standards, the Fultzes have made changes to the daily routine of animal care. To them, the safety of the animal comes first, but the most important ingredient, they say, is love.
“You have to love animals more than you love your free time,” said Kamron Fultz. Both acknowledged the challenges of taking over an existing business, especially when the business had been struggling. “Several previous customers swore they would never come back,” he said, “but they have not only come back; they are now loyal customers.”
Clients have noticed the positive changes the Fultzes have introduced and how they personally oversee the care of each and every animal. Furthermore, the Fultzes live on the property, offering customers great peace of mind. “Most of our customers have been referred to us by other customers,” said Vicky. “We have not really spent much money on advertising. We have relied on word of mouth referrals.”
The Fultzes have seen an increase in their clientele which has motivated them to embrace a new year full of major projects. Vicky plans to pursue an acupressure and massage certification for dogs and horses that will allow them to offer special care services for older animals. They are researching the possibility of turning the property’s additional nine acres into a dog park. “People are very interested in having a dog park in the Valley,” both said.
Kamron and Vicky Fultz are researching the latest technology tools to provide even better customer service. They want to send updates on pets via text messaging, and they want to install live video inputs so clients can log in to their computers and check on their pets. Because pets are like family members, the Fultzes know the importance of keeping pet owners informed and content.
To read more of this story by Nydia Tapia-Gonzales, pick up a copy of the February edition of Valley Business Report, on news stands now, or visit the “Current & Past Issues” tab on this Web site.