Washing dogs as a family
With two dogs, a fish, a cat, a hamster and a frog ambling around, Bridlemile resident Greg Robeson compares his household to a small zoo. And Robeson, his son Milo and his wife Kelliann are translating this love for animals into a business — Green Whiskers, a mobile dog washing company that focuses on water conservation and customer service. It will serve West Portland and open in October. The idea for Green Whiskers came from Robeson's experiences taking his Golden Retriever Sally for professional dog washes. He often noticed the exorbitant amount of water used to wash her. Then, one day, when trying to set up
an appointment with a mobile dog washer, he found that out of the three places he called, the one business that called him back was booked for the next three months. Instead of letting his frustration fester, Robeson, who worked in public relations and marketing for decades and served clients such as Travel Oregon, Astoria and the Oregon Coast, is using the potential market inefficiency to his advantage. And he said his market study of mobile groomers in the area confirmed his initial notion that the market could be improved. "It became clear to me there was an opportunity for someone to come in who had an understanding of what it meant to have a great brand, consistency, clarity and repetition of service," Robeson said. "Our goal with Green Whiskers is to have that same customer experience with mo
bile grooming. (We will) show up and be prompt, clean, courteous and most importantly, working with animals, we are going to be compassionate because we love animals." From a six-foot-tall van that can meet customers where they are, Green Whiskers uses ANIvac, which includes an organic cleaning solution that is injected onto a dog's fur and a suction that ejects the moisture. Robeson said it takes less than a gallon of water to wash a large dog. And he believes water conservation could appeal to the millennial demographic. "I think you have a growing awareness of the impacts of climate change, the growing water shortage (in California)," Robeson said. "Part of our study targeted millennials. They have a great sense of sustainability and passion for the environment." Robeson is also teaming up with Milo, who is a Robert Gray Middle School student and an aspir
ing dog-rescuer. Milo will handle the towel services for Green Whiskers, where he will launder and fold the towels the groomer will use to cleanse the dogs. A chunk of revenue will go toward Milo's college fund. "He wants to buy property and rescue dogs and give them a place to live. I think in his mind he sees this as an opportunity to build a business that could someday have an initiative that takes care of dogs," Robeson said. "I can't tell you how nice it is to do something with my son together." Additionally, Kelliann makes doggy treats, and the van will feature soothing music and photographs of dogs. Robeson has invested $90,000 in the business and hopes to add vans and expand to other areas of Portland beyond Southwest and Northwest neighborhoods. "I think once people see the system and learn there's a different way to wash a dog than we've done in the past, we'll really start to catch on," Robeson said.