It's not Howard Sturman's first time building a business.
About 15 years ago, the former retail manager of 23 years gave up management to become a full-time pet sitter in West Palm Beach, Fla.
"The average person in their life works 2,000 Mondays," said Sturman, recalling the words of a speaker at a retail management conference. "If you're not happy doing what you're doing, that's an awful lot of Mondays."
For him, that was a turning point. At that time Sturman purchased a small pet-sitting business called A Trusted Friend Pet Sitting Service and built his clientele to more than 300 pet owners. After recently moving to Lookout Valley with his wife and two dogs, he's looking to do it again.
"We have good friends living in Ooltewah and just fell in love with the area," said Sturman. "We decided if we ever left Florida we'd come here."
He's only been living in Chattanooga for about a month but said he's ready to get back to work taking care of pets and easing owners' minds while they're on vacation or visiting family out of town.
"I'm honest, trustworthy and reliable," he said, adding that he is also formally licensed, bonded and insured. "Once we've decided on a course of action for animals, that's what I adhere to. They're all different and have different personalities and needs."
Sturman said one of his strengths as a pet sitter is being able to bond with animals and learn their needs while their family is away. Before beginning the pet-sitting process, he comes to the client's home to meet with both the pet and owner to determine what services of his are necessary during their time away. He said he also likes to discuss any health-related concerns, learn feeding and exercise routines and any likes or dislikes the animal may have.
"[Pet-sitting] is good for the owners too because it means there's someone coming to the home regularly, checking the mail, watering the plants and picking up the paper," said Sturman. "It's also good because you know your animals are getting the TLC they deserve, and when you get home, your animals are already there waiting on you."
Being new to the community, he has a long list of both professional and customer references that new clients can call to verify the quality of his services, he said.
"People have always treated me as a member of their family," Sturman said in regards to his clients in Florida. "People used to call me before they'd make reservations to make sure I was available."
He said he typically pet-sits for dogs, cats, small mammals, some birds, fish, hermit crabs and has even taken care of llamas.
For more information about Sturman's services or A Trusted Friend Pet Sitting Service, contact him at 208-1998 or visit atfpetsitting.com.