By Steven Appelbaum, ABC President and CEO
Greetings and happy spring. I hope you are all healthy and doing well. I am writing this at the end of March, which means it is a little over a year since COVID-19 entered our lives. In some ways, it seems like the last 12 months went by incredibly fast, and in other ways, it seems like anything “pre-Covid” was a lifetime ago. A lot has been happening at ABC; here is just a sampling of what’s been going on.
By the end of March 2020, the 85 people working in our Santa Clarita, Californian office had all transitioned to working from home. While it would take us several months to fix all the small details, remote working was successful. Significant changes often generate unintended consequences. ABC’s switching to remote employment was no exception. One of these was that it became possible to hire people outside of California. The ABC team now has employees in seven states and counting. It also gave current California staff the option of relocating to other states without worrying about losing their jobs. Currently, half a dozen people have moved out of California and are still part of our great team. Another result of our going remote was our office space.
Since 2009, ABC has leased a 21,600-sq.-ft building in Santa Clarita. It served us well, but we didn’t need this space during the pandemic lockdown and found that remote worked so well we had no plan to have everyone back in the office. The challenge was that our lease didn’t expire until January 31, 2022. Ever an optimist, I worked with our landlord to see if it was possible to lease a smaller space and get out of our current lease early. It worked.
We located a smaller building (4,800 sq. ft.) about 2 miles from our current one, and our landlord was able to find a new tenant for our Rye Canyon location. We moved on March 1. The new building is excellent, and with it, we can continue offering our classroom program, house our shipping department, and have room for those who need to come in a few times a month. Our new address is: 27509 Ave Hopkins, Valencia, CA 91355. This outstanding development relieves us of the burden of paying for a costly space that we had no further use for. We now have a smaller office of even nicer quality that fits our current needs.
We Have a New Phone System
Phone systems are a bane of my existence. They are ridiculously expensive and require constant upkeep; we bought our last phone system in 2015. Aside from the costs, the systems overtime become obsolete, typically right about the time you finish paying for them. This time around, we decided not to purchase a new physical system but instead have moved the company to VoIP. This is exciting, as it gives us a much more current communications system and one that will assist us far longer than our previous purchases.
We are Expanding the Program and Externship Coordinator Department
This will allow for better student experiences and make our current program managers and externship coordinators’ jobs easier. This has been on my to-do list for a few years. It was originally slated for 2020, but the pandemic threw a bit of a damper on those plans, so I am thrilled 2021 is the year.
Enrollments Continue to Increase
In the first two months of 2021, we saw a considerable increase in enrollments for all programs. Our Zookeeper Assistant Program is averaging 26 new students per month. No program we have ever offered has started this strongly. Grooming is also off to the strongest start since its inception in 2010.
A Dog Trainer Opportunity
Recently, an ABC graduate from our Dog Obedience Trainer Program contacted me with an interesting opportunity. As a professional dog trainer, she is doing very well. An outstanding dog trainer that she worked with in Dallas is looking for qualified applicants to teach them how to work with phobic behavior, anxiety and aggression. If you are interested in learning more, click here. Knowing how to address more complex behavioral challenges is something trainers who want to expand their knowledge and abilities should consider.
ABC Program Updates
ABC is continuing to work on a complete revamp of our GIP curriculum. We are also looking for authors and subject matter experts on service dog training. If you are an expert or knows someone who is, you can reach out to me at Topdawg@animalbehaviorcollege.com. We plan to launch a service dog training program in 2022, as well as expand some of our current programs into markets outside of North America.
Thanks for reading!