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Entrepreneurs

K9000 Embarks On New Territory

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jun 19, 2020
Tim Hawkins, with K9000 Dog Wash USA, assembles one of the DIY dog-washing units at the company’s headquarters in Wilmington. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
With a new Wilmington headquarters and manufacturing facility in place, K9000 Dog Wash USA is further establishing its local roots while expanding its market.
 
K9000 Dog Wash USA in December opened its Kerr Avenue location in Wilmington, which houses its manufacturing, warehouse, office, retail and showroom space, said Pete Peterson, president of the firm.
 
The business makes, sells, distributes and services stainless steel selfserve, dog-wash vending machines.
 
The K9000 Dog Wash business model is twofold. The firm has its own locations, where it places corporate- owned machines, paying rent or working under a profit share with a landowner or business.
 
The company also sells its machines to business owners and entrepreneurs, offering customer service support. Its models range from $15,000 to $40,000 a machine, depending on the size and options.
 
The metal framework is made at Leland-based Manufacturing Methods, of which Peterson also heads up. Frames are then sent to the Wilmington- based K9000 facility where the machines are built, with its components and tested. Quality control and research and development also take place at the Wilmington site.
 
The K9000 business moved from underneath the umbrella of Manufacturing Method’s facility when it moved headquarters.
 
Peterson, as part of Manufacturing Methods in 2018, partnered with the owner and founder of the Australian- based Tru Blu K9000 Dog Wash LLC business, and later took over the manufacturing and sale of the machines in the U.S.
 
It took time to overcome some challenges with the business and to set it on the right path for the American market, Peterson said.
 
“It’s going to be nothing but continued growth from here, I’m sure,” he added.
 
Business for K9000 Dog Wash is picking up after a slowdown period from COVID-19 impacts. The void, however, was filled by some businesses looking add the dog-wash machines as amenities during the economic shutdown, said Cullen Seward, the firm’s vice president of sales and marketing.
 
“We’ve been steady,” Seward said. “We have taken the time to also install our own machines around town … We’ve really tried to use this time during the pandemic to move forward still.”
 
The firm has grown to four corporate locations in Wilmington: two in Wrightsville Beach, one in the Monkey Junction area and another at headquarters. Another company- owned location is being planned for the Carolina Beach area.
 
There is also a machine K9000 sold to Best Day Ever Dog Boutique off Racine Drive. In addition, the company has made sales this year in 14 states, including in Alaska and California.
 
“This is such a broad market,” Peterson said, adding that the products can be used in a variety of settings including retail stores, car washes, and laundromats.
 
The firm also aims to test out a new dog park and dog-wash business model off Eastwood Road, the details of which were are still being worked out, Peterson said.
 
“That will be a flagship location for us with a dog park, dog-wash vending machines, the whole nine yards; an investor model to be able to replicate in other cities,” he said. “It’s going to be our biggest dogwash location yet that will be corporate- owned as well.”
 
For the project, the company is partnering with the landowner, with K9000 being an owner and operator of the park, Peterson said.
 
“What we’re doing is locally here – of course, we want the revenue from the dog washes – but we’re basically looking at adding locations that are examples for other machine owners and investors,” Peterson said.
 
“I think the dog and pet market has become so large that it’s made it much easier to be able to place these machines in just about any location where there is residential traffic for people to utilize just like a car wash,” Peterson said. “It’s much easier to go wash your car at a car wash than it is at home. And it’s much easier to wash your dog at a dog wash then it is at home – same exact concept.”
 

K9000 Dog Wash USA

951 S. Kerr Ave., Wilmington


No. of employees: 7
 
Year founded: 2019
 
Top local officials: Pete Peterson, president; Gordon Reddick, vice president; and Cullen Seward, vice president of sales and marketing.
 
Company description: K9000 Dog Wash USA manufactures, distributes, sells and services DIY dog-wash vending machines.
 
Products made locally: The company manufactures three different-sized dog washes: a compact mini, classic single and twin version. All are made at the Wilmington facility.
 
Product distribution: U.S.
 
What made the company decide to make its goods locally? Cullen Seward: “Helping to promote a healthy local business ecosystem is important to us. Additionally, the technical talent we were able to bring onto the team made it a no brainer. In addition to manufacturing the machines locally and shipping them throughout the country, we also are opening our own dog wash locations to demonstrate our confidence in the product.”
 
What’s your target market? Seward: “The K9000 is a great fit for many industries and is sold to a diverse customer lineup. Car washes and laundromats, pet stores – as well as boarding and daycare facilities. Stand-alone locations – such as one of the locations we own locally at 951 S. Kerr Ave. – municipalities, parks, breweries and more. We are primarily focused on North America but have aspirations to increase resources to grow the business in South America as well.”
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