Durham, N.C.-The trip to the vet for Tari's cat Skeeter was "smooth and comfortable." The same can be said for dogs Izzy, T.K. and D'Jango. These animals and their owners are clients of Campbell University graduate Juan Galvis' new business, The Pet Wagon, and Galvis makes sure the animals receive the best of care in his state-of-the-art pet transportation vehicle with climate control and cushy kennels.
"Social responsibility and animal welfare are our driving force," said Galvis. "That is why the Pet Wagon idea came to life."
Born into a cattle ranching family in Bucaramanga, Columbia, Galvis grew up loving and respecting animals. "To me this is more than just a business. I have a really big heart and a passion for animals," he said. "They enhance our lives greatly in so many ways. I want to promote the idea of sharing life with pets and to enrich the human-animal bond for those who already share their lives with animals."
Galvis did not always want to start his own pet care and transportation business, however. When he first came to Campbell University as an international student in 1997, he was one of the top 10 junior golfers in his home state in Colombia. He wanted to enroll in the PGM program and become a professional golfer, but the more he got involved in other disciplines, the less interested Galvis became in golf.
"God was leading me," he said. "You can sort of put the pieces of the puzzle together when you look at life in retrospect."
Galvis took the introduction to biology course from Dr. Tim Metz and developed a love of science and a lasting friendship with his professor. He also began to delve into business courses.
"Biology was a field that made sense to me," he said. "At the same time, I started getting more and more interested in business."
Realizing that he wasn't cut out to be a scientist, Galvis decided to major in Business Administration and minor in biology.
"I had become so fascinated with the philosophy of business and the principles of the free market. I knew I wanted to apply them in the real world," he said.
But Galvis faced a tough decision when he graduated in 2001.
"When you are an international student, the government gives you two options. You can stay in the U.S. on a one-year permit or go back to your own country," he said.
Galvis decided to stay to learn more about the American culture, especially the culture of American business. He landed his first job as the Public Relations and Marketing manager at the "Sampson Independent" newspaper in Clinton, N.C. and went on to work as the number one sales representative for Hispanic newspaper and radio conglomerate "Que Pasa." Both "Que Pasa" and the Mark Vitali/Nationwide Insurance agency, another company impressed with Galvis' work, volunteered to sponsor him to stay in the United States. Galvis decided to take the insurance path, eventually becoming an agency manager. It was when some opportunities for advancement within his field came along that Galvis made the decision to strike out on his own.
"It was a good time for me to reflect on what I really wanted to do," he said. "I decided I wanted to start my own business, a business related to animals."
The Pet Wagon opened on December 7, offering first class transportation for dogs, cats, birds and other animals in the Durham and Chapel Hill areas (trips outside the area are on a per quote basis). The company also offers other services such as walking, feeding and caring for a pet when the owner is out of town. In addition, Galvis integrates the latest technology like GPS tracking and video monitoring. Plans for inter-state services are also on the horizon. So far, Galvis hasn't regretted his decision to open his own business and would eventually like to see it become a nationwide franchise.
"I want to create a business model that other people who have the same passion for animals can become a part of across the country," he said.
For more information about The Pet Wagon, go to the website at http://www.thepetwagon.com
Photo Copy: Juan Galvis and The Pet Wagon vehicle, offering first class transportation for pets.