Matt Sellecchia was always looking for a place where he’d feel comfortable leaving Reggie – his Old English Bulldog and canine companion of over a year and a half – whenever he went away. He had thought of starting his own pet “resort” before, but it wasn’t until the 30-year-old Sellecchia lost his job with a New York City banking company that he was able to seize upon what he called “the perfect time and opportunity” to pursue his dream.
Sellecchia’s vision would not materialize overnight, however. He first invested six months and 130 hours of hands-on training to become a certified dog trainer, before spending an additionally two years researching dog training and boarding facilities. Identifying a need for a canine day care center in Tuckahoe, Sellecchia invested over $1 million in starting his own company, Paws and Play, a pet resort and training center which will have its grand opening this month.
Managed by family friend Michele MacMillan, and featuring 86 enclosures and 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor play areas and training space, Paws and Play has gone from dream to reality, and brings what Sellecchia believes is a new way of looking at dog training and owner service to the community.
1. What made you decide to open your own business?
I've owned dogs my whole life and I wanted to provide a clean, safe and fun environment for both dogs and their owners. My dogs are part of my family, and I wanted to create a place where I know they would enjoy being and I would feel comfortable leaving them, knowing they were in great hands.
2. If you could change one decision or action you've made in your career, what would it be?
I'm happy I was able to experience different industries, like finance and entertainment, however I wish I had acted on my decision to open Paws and Play sooner.
3. What do you foresee might be a challenge of running this new business?
Sometimes I have trouble letting go [of tasks], and to operate a business of this size I will need to properly delegate to my associates.
4. What are some key lessons you've learned in your professional and personal life that you think everyone can learn from?
Don't think you have all the answers and be open to other people's views. Also good things don't happen by chance; you have to work hard and make sure you have a plan for what you are trying to accomplish.
5. What are the three most important things a person needs to be successful? Why?
Passion is what causes you to do something because you want to, not because you have to. Having a thorough understanding of the business you are in reduces the risk of failure and expands the scope of opportunity. Surround yourself with good people because you can't do everything yourself.
6. What is your definition of success?
Achieving your goals and having a positive impact on those around you.
7. If you could give advice to someone beginning their career – or who wants to switch careers - what would you tell them?
Make sure you have done extensive research and have thoroughly thought out and understand the industry/position you would like to pursue.
You are an important part of this column, so don’t hesitate to tell us what local business owner you would like to see featured in next week’s Secret of My Success. Tell us in the comment section below or at email@example.com.