Turning a passion into a small business is a recipe for success. Just ask Tina Zambrana, owner of The Pet Stop, a mobile pet clinic based in Miami, Fla.
“I grew up in rural Texas. I always had pets of all shapes and sizes in my life, from horses and turkeys to dogs and cats. After moving away and becoming a flight attendant, I eventually ended up in Miami. I married my husband Mike, a Miami Dade Police Detective and we have two amazing children. Though I was now grounded, I never lost my passion for animals,” said Zambrana.
Following her animal instinct, Tina found work in animal health pharmaceutical sales. That sparked interest in other areas in the animal health arena. In addition to her job and raising her family, she finished a degree in marketing at Florida International University. It was during this time she noticed a gap in the animal health market. She went to her employer and said a mobile pet clinic would be great for business.
“I told my boss my idea for a mobile pet clinic and he said ‘start it!’ and did. My idea was to provide mobile pet care clinic services that were affordable and convenient. People were taking time off from their jobs to care for their pets, even for the most basic services. My idea offered a solution. I had no clue of how to start or run a business but I learned pretty quickly”
As with many new small businesses, Zambrana’s wasn’t without a few challenges. Her philosophy is “a bend in the road isn’t the end of the road unless you fail to make a turn.” Eventually she purchased the business from her former employer, and then had the latitude to run it according to her vision and philosophy.
“I had absolute faith in my business and although sometimes you take two steps backwards, I knew it would lead to ten steps forward,” said Zambrana.
Zambrana needed financing and sought an SBA loan. Despite being turned down by two banks, she eventually got a $120,000 SBA business loan approved from City National Bank because they understood small businesses and they saw her vision.
“With an initial investment of $30,000, Tina took control of her Pet Stop Mobile Pet Clinic. She doesn’t allow challenges to stop her from striving for growth and success. This SBA financing has allowed her to extend contracts and territory with other business partners,” said Carlos de la Rosa, City National Bank’s Kendall Banking Center Manager.
Tina’s prior experience in animal health pharmaceutical sales and marketing led to valuable business partnerships with Walgreens, Navarro pharmacies and Wal-Mart. Her business grew from six employees covering Miami Dade County to 32 employees delivering pet care from Jupiter to the Florida Keys.
“I strive for growth both professionally and personally. To own a business and face the constant ups and downs, you have to feel like you were born to do nothing else and that is exactly how I feel. I have a business that provides jobs for my much loved staff, I provide a service needed and appreciated by the community and most importantly I am an example to my children of what you can do with your life with hard-work, perseverance, tenacity, drive and passion.,” said Zambrana.
Tina shows no sign of resting on her laurels. She is looking for ways to make a difference in her community, through her business. One of her new projects is for each staff member to find a home for a dog or cat in need. To date, her workers have found new homes for 12 dogs and one cat.
Professionally, Tina is working to franchise her mobile pet clinic. What is now a uniquely South Florida pet service may one day be available nationwide.