Pacer grad's passion for pets pays off
For Nick Eaton, pet sitting isn't just a summer job — it's a real-time lesson in business management and administration.
The Lakeridge High School graduate and incoming sophomore at Bates College started his pet-sitting business when he was just 9 years old. Today, Nick Eaton and Company Pet Sitting Services and its growing staff of current and former Pacers offers in-home care for domestic animals throughout the metro area.
It all started when a young Eaton lived in Massachusetts. He had his eye on a mini-motorbike that he'd wanted for quite some time, so he decided to start saving up. At the time, his father lived in an apartment complex, so the pair drummed up the idea to watch neighbors' pets while they were out of town.
Shortly after, the Eaton family moved to Oregon, but Nick continued his business venture throughout his childhood and as a young adult.
Living in Lake Oswego provided a wealth of clients for his business, so three years ago he made the decision to focus time and energy on growing his company. He started hiring fellow Lakeridge High School students to help meet demand, a process that taught him a lot about management and hiring.
"At first I was just hiring people I knew, but their commitment level didn't match my vision," he says. "Not that they weren't responsible. I just knew I needed people who would be as passionate as I am."
Eaton decided to strengthen his hiring process by creating a formal application and hosting multiple rounds of interviews to find the best people possible. This year, he's hired back a few staffers from the previous
year and added some new faces as well.
He says he's excited for all of them to get out into the community and provide people's pets with a pleasant experience while their humans are out of town.
"I've had 17 people fill out an application in the past few weeks. I've been interviewing people the past two weeks and there are a lot of great people," Eaton says. "I had to tell one girl that I'm not sure how many clients we'll have this summer, although she's awesome and I want to hire her, but it's all based on volume. At the end of the day, maturity, trustworthiness and being responsible are the biggest factors."
Eaton has carved out a small niche in the pet-sitting market in Lake Oswego. His goal is to be comparable to the price of a kennel while giving clients the peace of mind that comes from knowing their pet is in a familiar place with a responsible person checking in on their beloved furry friend.
Eaton's pricing starts at $35 a day for two 20-minute walks, feeding, play time and all the love his employees can give. Additional pets are just $5 each, and clients can add walks and other treatment as desired.
"A lot of people don't want their dog to have the feeling of not knowing where they are, so that's where we come in — sending awesome people to check in," Eaton says. "You don't have to worry about them getting sick or not getting the attention you want them to receive."
Starting his own business has been a rewarding experience for Eaton, and not just because he's building a resume and learning how to manage a business. It's also a great talking point among friends' parents and new people he meets.
Living in Lewiston, Maine, for part of the year has been tricky, he says, but luckily most of Eaton's business comes during the summer months and at the holidays when he's home from college.
He says he's interested in beefing up his business by incorporating a dog-walking service while he's away at school, hopefully in the near future.
He's also used his company as an opportunity to give back to the community. Eaton recently donated a three-day package of pet-sitting services to the Lake Oswego Rotary Club's annual Lobster Feed and Charity Auction, which is scheduled for Saturday. He also gives 10 percent of his profits back to his former lacrosse team at Lakeridge and hopes to make this donation a rotating gift between several Pacer sports programs and clubs in the coming years as he continues to grow the business.