Chamber Insider Blog

SBA Finalist Spotlight 2021: Dogtopia Purcellville

Thank you to Tom and Leslie Payne, owners of Dogtopia Purcellville, for answering some of our questions! Congratulations on being finalists in the Superior Service Business of the Year category! View all of the finalists here.

Join us for the 27th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards on Friday, October 29, 2021 at The National Conference Center. Ticket information here.

Tell us your story of how your business evolved into what it is today? 

In Spring of 2019, we committed to the idea of building the best dog daycare in western Loudoun and by November signed the lease our Purcellville location.  As a locally owned business we also wanted to support other small business and signed with local contractors in January 2020 who began construction in February 2020.  While demolition was just getting underway, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and we faced a series of unexpected challenges, both with supply chain interruptions and marketing restrictions due to the lockdown.  In July 2020, two months later than the original schedule, we received our certificate of occupancy, and we celebrated our Grand Opening in August!

Our work began with a newly trained team of eager, fresh faces, and we prioritized shaping our culture into a happy, fun, family-owned business exceling at customer service.  We identified talented people from within our team, sharing our values of excellence and quality care, and promoted them into leadership positions. We invested in training our staff, nurturing their creativity, all the while reaching out into the community and building our reputation as a thriving new business.  After one year, we can proudly say we are a vibrant service business with strong customer relationships. We share a bond in our love for dogs and the joy they bring us.

What are you most proud of about your team? 

Every member of our hardworking staff genuinely loves dogs and is committed to their personal professional growth to better understand canine behavior, safety, and wellness. While it looks like our team gets to ‘play with dogs’ all day, they have the distinction of being well-trained and uniquely skilled to perform their job. Every employee has completed basic Canine Coach I training and all are working toward or have earned additional achievements. These include Canine Coach II, III, Canine First Aid/CPR, Heroes for Healthy Pets and Spa Services.

In what ways do you give back to the community?

While Dogtopia of Purcellville supports organizations helping neighbors in need and serving veterans, we also work with other businesses that love dogs like we do. We know giving back to the community matters and we’ve focused our efforts where they align with our priorities and values and provide the greatest impact.

During our first year, the organizations we have supported who help neighbors in need include: Loudoun Hunger Relief, Loudoun Habitat for Humanity, The Neighborhood Learning Center, Loudoun Valley High School internship (on autism spectrum) and employment, Girl Scout Troop 4437 Pet Pantry Food Drive, Collin’s Pet Pantry Food Drive, The Choice Group partnership (employee placement),

The veteran organizations we have supported include Vets Moving Forward and Boulder Crest Foundation, and our employees and customers have raised $6,000 to support our 1st Service Dog for a deserving veteran through the Dogtopia Foundation

Our love of dogs is shared by other businesses we have supported including NOVA Pets Alive, Homeless Animal Rescue Team, Leesburg Veterinary Hospital Partnership, Lost Barrel Brewing, Breaux Vineyard, Vanish Brewery, and Bear Chase Brewing Company

And finally, as COVID receded in the summer of 2021, we celebrated along with our community neighbors by participating in the Purcellville & Leesburg Independence Day Parades sharing in the fun and passing out treats to all the dogs along the route!

What would it mean to you and your business to win a Small Business Award?
We would be humbled and deeply honored to be recognized by the Chamber as Winner of this year’s Outstanding Service Small Business Award. The recognition would be a ringing endorsement that our hard-working team is succeeding in our mission of making a difference for Loudoun families one dog at a time!

What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

Greeting dog’s by name with happiness when they arrive.

Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

My grandfather, Lawrence McPhaden who instilled in me a passion for owning a small business.

What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

Serving neighbors in the community in which we live and making a difference in their lives.

What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?

Though I spent 25 years in the Navy, flying for a living, my deepest desire has always been to be an entrepreneur.

What is one book that changed your life and why?

“Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It was recommended after completing SERE school in the Navy.  The book inspires me and has made me think differently about resilience, perseverance and personal responsibility for our own happiness.

If you’re not in the office, where can we find you/what is another passion you have?

With our 3 children, their spouses, and our 3 grandchildren!

How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?

We will be focused on growing our daycare business and educating Loudoun dog owners about the benefits of socialization, exercise, and education for their dogs.  As the number of dogs in our care grows, we can fully utilize all four fully playrooms. Dividing dogs into four groups versus three will allow us to provide even a more ideal fit for our dogs based upon size and temperament.  We will continue to focus on and prioritize developing full-time employees that spend more time with our dogs and better understand their personalities.  We look forward to helping many more Loudoun families find true balance and joy with their canine family members and becoming a larger Dogtopia family!

Learn more about Dogtopia Purcellville on their website! Photos courtesy of Dogtopia Purcellville’s Facebook page.