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In the "Mews"

My Vote For Entrepreneur Of The Year

From the June 30, 2006 print edition of the Webster-Kirkwood Times
By Mary Bufe
June 30, 2006

Let’s face it. Most of us will never make it as entrepreneurs. We are just too darned conventional.

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need vision. Passion. You must be the kind of person who can accidentally step in a pile of doggy you-know-what and see it for what it truly is: a business opportunity.

In other words, you must be someone like Cindy Berndt.

Cindy, I suspect, has stepped in her share of you-know-what. She and her sister, Tammy Tvetene, are owners of a local pet care business called Critter Sitters.

That’s right. Cindy walks dogs for a living. OK, she’s more versatile than that. She also feeds dogs. If they are temperamental and will only eat on Wedgwood China, well, she has done that, too.

Or, let’s say you’ve got a pet chicken who, rain or shine, insists on wearing her rain slicker and boots when she goes on her afternoon walk. No problem! Cindy will help little Henny Penny get her little wing in the sleeve. Plus — and this is the best part — she won’t think your chicken is strange at all. That’s just the kind of caring, non-judgmental entrepreneur she is.

Besides, she’s seen stranger.

Cindy, after all, has been in the critter sitting business for a dozen years now. In that time, she has met a LOT of pet-owners, including many in the Webster-Kirkwood area. And, well, I’d like to tell you more. But Cindy is a professional. And she has this thing about sitter/pet confidentiality.

Which brings me, somehow, to Cindy’s decision earlier this year to expand into one of the fastest growing areas of the nation’s $2.7 billion pet care business.

I’m talking about: dog waste removal. Or, to use the more technical term, “pooper-scooping.” It’s also known by about a hundred other marginally offensive terms – all of which appear to be officially sanctioned by the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, of which Critter Sitters is a proud member.

Cindy, of course, is not the area’s first pooper scooper. But she is the first person with whom I have personally had the pleasure of discussing the pooper scooping business. So, you know I had lots of questions. For example:

(1) Couldn’t you have found a slightly less disgusting side business, like, say Porta Potty cleaning?

(2) Hey wait a minute, a Porta Potty for Pooches! Do you think there’s a market for that?

(3) What? Someone’s already invented one?

See, this is why I could never be an entrepreneur. All the good ideas are already taken.

But things like that don’t faze Cindy. True entrepreneurs such as herself are driven by a higher purpose.

Or, as they like to say in the dog waste removal business: Doody calls

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