Thomas Pride International: At 82 Real Estate Giant Moves Into The Doghouse




What you choose to do professionally is an important decision in your life, since it can have a direct positive or negative impact on your personal life and financial success. It is critical to be satisfied with what you do for a living. You can either choose to do a job or start your own business; both have their own pros and cons. On one hand, the 9 to 5 job can be monotonous and boring for some people. On the other hand, the world of business is exhilarating and demanding, where every day brings a new set of challenges and grooming for success never stops. Though both quadrants have insecurity at every step, people with jobs face the uncertainty of being able to pay their bills, whereas an entrepreneur faces the uncertainty of not only having to pay their bills but also being responsible for the welfare and employment of their employees. Employees and entrepreneurs have different mindsets, live in different worlds, and have different life experiences. Over time, many people with jobs have lived their lives blessing Fridays and cursing Mondays. To them, life is beautiful but mostly only on Saturdays and Sundays. Isn’t life too short to be waiting for weekends?

Peter Thomas, Founder, and Chairman of Thomas Pride International and its affiliates, LifePilot, Dogtopia Enterprises, and including Thomas Franchise Solutions, chooses to live a life filled with passion and purpose. LifePilot is a program that seeks to empower people to live fulfilling, balanced lives and to realize their highest personal potential. Thomas is the Chairman of the Thomas Foundation, founded in 1990 in Canada that supports charities that cater to children, mental health and education, including Freedoms Door, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver, Coast Mental Health Foundation, Power to Be and others. In 2000, he started the Todd Thomas Foundation, a US foundation to help raise awareness of the magnitude of mental illness, decrease the stigma associated with it and support research for effective treatment of all types of mental illness. Thomas believes in not only giving back through philanthropic endeavors but also through mentoring young entrepreneurs. He was one of the founding members of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and has been honored by his appointment as Chairman Emeritus. He has been the Chairman of and a Senior Judge at the EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) for the past ten years in both Canada and the United States. Thomas continues to serve on its Board of Directors. He’s also a Gold member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a founding member of L3. Thomas received his L.LD.(H) from Royal Roads University and was also awarded the prestigious National Caring Award, an honor shared with Colin Powell and Laura Bush.

“It’s always important to be successful at what you do but the real bottom line is to be successful at who you are.”

Being one of the leading real estate developers of his time, Thomas was behind several successful projects worth billions of dollars, including multi-unit apartment projects, land assemblies, golf courses, and hotels including the development of the Four Seasons Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. During this time he also wrote “Windows of Opportunity” and “Never Fight With a Pig”. After having experienced significant entrepreneurial success for more than four decades in franchising, including Century 21 Real Estate in Canada, and real estate development throughout North America, tragedy struck Thomas in the form of the death of his son in the year 2000. Following this personal loss, Thomas decided to focus his time and energy on sharing his life experiences and the importance of values and values-based leadership with others through his LifePilot program. During this phase, Thomas travelled the world with his wife Rita teaching this program and also penned several other books including “LifeManual” and “Be Great”.

After much reflection and healing, at the age of 73, Thomas was ready to face some new entrepreneurial challenges. Through a lot of searching, in 2012 Thomas, along with a group of investors, purchased Dogtopia that offers dog daycare and boarding services with an emphasis on education, exercise, and socialization. “First and foremost, I love dogs; this is a fun industry and brand to be a part of. Secondly, mentorship is one of my core values and this brand allows me to work within my two wheelhouses of franchising and coaching executives and small business owners to reach their potential,” says Chairman and Director Peter Thomas, sharing why he chose Dogtopia. Since then, Dogtopia has grown to 142 locations and is replicating the same success across every location. With the pet care industry at $95 billion and growing, Dogtopia, with its rapid growth, is leading the charge. The largest provider of doggy daycare in North America, Dogtopia is indeed a brand of choice.

Another measurement of Thomas’s successes is the people he surrounds himself with. He has always advocated that in any project he gets involved with, his position is the visionary, and he always aligns himself with a strong operational counterpart whose role is to run and operate the company.  Strong leadership is critical and he found that leadership when he aligned with Neil Gill as his CEO of Dogtopia. To learn more check out for the US and in Canada.

Peter Thomas, Founder, & Chairman, Thomas Pride International
Peter Thomas, Founder, & Chairman, Thomas Pride International

With different independent pet salons offering various services, the pet care vertical was initially dispersed. However, with its launch, Dogtopia has set a new benchmark by introducing a new level of transparency, safety, service, and state of the art daycare centers to the pet care market. Dogs are seen as family members and their care is of utmost importance to every pet parent. However, they have to go through the expensive and tedious process of visiting different centers for daycare, boarding, and spa. By offering all three services under one roof, Dogtopia has emerged as a convenient one-stop solution for all pet parents. With over 100,000 registered and active pet care service businesses, Dogtopia also has some serious competition to face. However, by offering complete pet care solutions, Dogtopia not only dominates its competitors but with its loving and caring attitude towards pets, it completely outshines them. “Endless love, trust, and support for dogs and the pet parent separates us from our competitors,” highlights Thomas.

There is nothing like a trained dog, and at Dogtopia, they believe that every dog deserves daycare and that Dogtopia makes better canine citizens. Keeping this in mind, Dogtopia’s purpose over profit and the “Noble Cause” statement is to “Enhance the Joy of Dog Parenthood” and enable “Dogs to Positively Change Our World”.  The first part “Enhance the Joy of Pet Parenthood” is developed for safe socialization of dogs followed by the right exercise and right training with the sole purpose of making them better behaved around other dogs and other humans. The second part “Enable Dogs to Positively Change Our World” is geared toward their work through the Dogtopia Foundation for creating a platform that enables dogs to give back to humanity and contribute in areas of autism, literacy, and support of veterans. With the motto ‘To enhance the joy of dog parenthood and enable dogs to positively change our world’, Dogtopia is committed to serving their pet parents and communities while making a difference.

Franchise criteria and support

As per the 2019-2020 survey report by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), a whopping 85 million families in the USA own a pet and more and more households will open their doors for another dog as a pet. In the USA, with 39% of households owning at least one dog and around 28% of owners owning two dogs, the pet industry will only continue to grow. With the global pet care market expected to reach USD 202.6 billion by 2025, this is the perfect time for wannabe entrepreneurs to be a part of this dynamic industry. Having ranked as the No. 1 pet services franchise in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 41st Annual Franchise 500® list, Dogtopia is becoming a more and more recognizable brand day by day. Having displayed impressive growth, Franchise Times magazine recently ranked it as the ‘Best Pet Franchise’ in its Annual Zor Awards.

With a clear vision for itself and its franchises, Dogtopia is looking for tenacious individuals who love dogs and have relevant business experience. The process is simple and transparent. At Dogtopia, they expect the franchise to follow the set system and collaboratively work with them to enhance it. Dogtopia understands how the conventional business system works and the associated risks involved. As there are no footprints to follow and as one is entirely on his own, conventional business is not everyone’s cup of tea. Hence, with a proven and tested business system, Dogtopia enables entrepreneurs to be in the business for themselves but not by themselves. With its new and unique business model named Dogtopia Lite, Dogtopia makes it easier for new franchisees to get started in the pet care industry.

Once onboard, every franchisee receives a three-part, four-week extensive training which is a unique blend of classroom and practical field experience followed by monthly support visits for the first year. The franchisee also receives access to regional workshops with visits from a dedicated operations manager throughout the franchise tenure with Dogtopia. Along with weekly newsletters including updates on new initiatives and announcements and monthly webinars from various business subject matter experts, Dogtopia also offers interactive workshops and an annual conference that includes the unveiling of business plans for the coming year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly tested the strength and resiliency of Dogtopia’s business model. Amidst these difficult and challenging times, where other businesses are struggling to survive with most of them being on the verge of closing down, Dogtopia continues its winning streak and was deemed as an essential service in most markets in North America. “Dogs who have become acclimated to attending daycare, whether pet parents or families are at home, still need daycare to exert all of that pent-up energy and pet parents recognize this,” explains Thomas.  With safety as the soul of their business, Dogtopia remains focused on daycare while following all the precautionary measures like curbside pick-up and physical distancing in the playrooms with dogs. “We have always focused on daycare, and if Dogtopia had a middle name, it would be safety,” shares Thomas. Dogtopia also went on to pivot their fundraising efforts for the past three months and all money raised through the Dogtopia Foundation went to support COVID-19 relief efforts.

With a service-based business model, focus on elevating its offerings with the aim to provide highest quality care and a vision of expanding their brand to more than 400 locations across the U.S. and Canada, Dogtopia is certainly marching to not only become an undisputed market leader but also a thought leader in the sector.

As Thomas says it’s all about making a difference in the lives of others. “It’s always important to be successful at what you do but the real bottom line is to be successful at who you are,” emphasizes Thomas.

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