Rolane Grinnell of Pet Partners Worldwide, LLC is an entrepreneur based in Southern Utah, a stone’s throw from Zion National Park. Initially born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, his mother worked in entertainment, but when Rolane was about five-years-old, the family moved to Colorado, Texas, Florida, and Arizona before landing back in Las Vegas. It was the time spent in Colorado on his family’s ranch that led Rolane to developing a deep love for animals, and his eventual desire to launch Pet Partners Worldwide and its flagship product, My Pet Pail™.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Rolane, a successful businessman in his own right, to learn about his entrepreneurial journey and what compelled him to go from owning a lodge and ATV rental store in the mountains of Utah to inventing My Pet Pail.
What made you decide to go into business?
When I was ten or eleven, my parents got a divorce and we moved to Arizona with my mom. While in Phoenix, my mom discovered a love for unfinished furniture. One Christmas, our house burned down when we were visiting family in Las Vegas. My mom bought unfinished furniture with the insurance money and opened Oh Joy’s Unfinished Furniture. She put everything she had into that little store.
Every day, I would ride the city bus to the store and I’d finish the furniture there. Instead of doing mere academics after school, I worked. I continued working for my mom until I was twenty-one or twenty-two until I decided to make my own mark. That’s around the time I began working for my uncle, who owned apartment complexes.
What was it like working for your uncle?
Here I had no college education and my uncle asked, “What do you want to do?” I said, “How about I do maintenance?” and he said, “How about you become the assistant superintendent of building these complexes?” It was a great opportunity. I worked for nine different superintendents in four or five years and they put me through the hoops.
First day on the job, they had me picking up trash and cans all day. Another guy had me insulate. These guys were trying to be mean and get rid of me, but I stuck around and my construction career ultimately took off. I was selected to build a showcase home in Las Vegas and I got a lot of recognition in home building magazines. After that, I was recruited to head up apartment projects.
Did you stay in home building?
I eventually decided that home building wasn’t my passion anymore, and one day it hit me that I should go into the mortgage business. I got hired at this mortgage company and this guy showed me this beautiful office. He then slid my desk into the hallway and into the back staircase. “You have to earn an office,” he said. So, I worked seven days a week and went to all of my friends and family. Before long, I was the largest producer in the office.
After the promise to make me partner fell through, I started my own mortgage company and ended up with several offices. When the recession hit, I shut down the mortgage company and began flipping properties from the courthouse with two partners. We flipped about 100 properties a year for five years before I transitioned into the lodge and ATV rental businesses. When I was flipping properties, I met my wife, Stacey, who’s now my business partner.
How did you meet your wife?
I met Stacey in 2010 at the bank where I was doing business; she was a teller. I’d pick up about a million every week and go to the auction. I’d bring my regular teller, Jameson coffee all the time and she said, “Why don’t you bring me coffee?” So, one day a friend of mine was getting married and I didn’t have a date. I went down to the bank and asked Stacey if she’d be my date for this wedding in California and she agreed to go. We’ve been together ever since and it’s been great.
I was forty-two when we had our first child together. I lived the single bachelor life beside my two Shih Tzus, and now we run these family businesses together. Party passed away, but we still have Isabelle. Every morning, Stacey gets the kids ready and puts a sweater on Isabelle. After dropping off the kids, Stacey and Isabelle run up the mountain to work. Stacey works at our ATV rental store, Brian Head Outdoor Adventures, and she works on My Pet Pail.
What drew you to the pet business?
When we lived in Colorado, I fell in love with animals. My mom would stand on the back porch of our ranch house and she’d call the cows at night and you’d hear them coming over the hill. She’d say, “Here Aunt Jemima. Here Bertha.” They’d be running towards the house because they knew she was going to feed them.
Then my sister had this pig whose mother wouldn’t feed him. We called him Oink Grinnell. Oink slept in bed with my sister. He ate at the dinner table like a dog. He walked my sister to the bus stop, and back then our driveway was a half mile long. Before the bus would arrive, the pig would be waiting for my sister.
On the ranch in Colorado, I fell in love with my first dog, who was an Airedale Terrier named Kerry Kelly Blue. Kerry was with me all the time when I was young. One day, we had Kerry and our cat in the barn. I had Kerry by the collar and she was barking at the cat and I said to my mom, “I don’t think these two like each other. We ought to let them work it out.”
After Kerry passed away, I got a little dog from the pound named Chippa. She was a mutt, but she was the best dog. I took Chippa everywhere I went. If I didn’t take her, she’d be in the backseat of the car. My brothers and sisters are a lot older than me, and I didn’t have a lot of friends – my dogs were my friends. As an adult, my mom thought it was time for me to have a dog again and she gave me a Shih Tzu named Party.
Did Party inspire My Pet Pail?
Like Kerry Kelly Blue and Chippa, Party went everywhere with me. Party accompanied me to my mortgage company every day. She’d sit on the reception counter where she was basically the receptionist. We called her Princess Party – she ruled the roost. One day my mom visited the office and she had a brand-new puppy and I immediately fell in love. The minute I saw Isabelle I said, “Mom, you have to let me have that dog.” So, I ended up with Party and Isabelle and being a single business owner, they’d come to work with me. They were amazing company for me. Just great dogs.
How was travelling with Party and Isabelle?
I had several cars – a Corvette, trucks – but I always had the same problem. These dogs would travel with me to my satellite offices hours away from Las Vegas. I wanted to make sure they had enough food and water, but I’d forget to close the Tupperware and the food and water would spill all over the car. No matter what I did, I always had the same result: food and water all over everything.
The problem with the cup holder was getting the water out. Plus, my cellphone would always fall in it. I destroyed several cell phones because I’d accidentally leave water in the cup holder for the dogs. I thought there had to be an easier way to reach down, open the container, allow them to eat and drink and close a lid that would seal.
When did you think of the My Pet Pail concept?
I came up with the idea for My Pet Pail in 2008 or 2009. I drew up the My Pet Pail and had the concept for many years. But it wasn’t until my friend, Rick came over for dinner and he said we should work together. That’s when I showed him my drawings for My Pet Pail. He took one look at them and said it was a great idea.
The next day we called a patent attorney in California. We did an intensive patent search and launched My Pet Pail. That was in January of 2015. It’s not just a collar, leash and bowl. It’s very new and it’s never been seen before. This solves the pet travel problem and in the future, we’ll be coming out with the Pet Pail Petite and the Pet Pail XL.
What is Pet Partners Worldwide’s mission?
We’d like to be involved in many pet humanitarian efforts and plan on doing so as we grow this company. We plan to be a role model in the pet industry and provide good quality, healthy products for pet owners and their pets.
Any remarks on entrepreneurship?
I love the freedom to create and the freedom to choose my own life’s path. I realize that whatever seeds I plant today are for my future. Working for myself, I’m not building things for somebody else, I’m building things for my kids and my future, for our harvest. There’s something to be said about taking risks. “No risk, no reward in life” is what my mom always said. I would tell anybody that if they had an idea or dream, “Anything you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” Take the leap of faith. Another one I live by, “What one man can do another can do.”
What lessons would you pass on?
Pick one thing and be the very best you can at that one thing. In my life, I went into construction. I stuck with just that one thing. I was the very best at it until the Lord told me to go into something else. When I got into mortgages, I was the very best I could be. Same with flipping homes and the lodge business. Pick one thing and be the very best you can be at that one thing.
One thing my dad did say, “You have your name and your word. If you give somebody your word, you need to stick with it and do what you say you’re going to.” I try to be as honorable as I can and whether win or lose if I said it’s a certain way, I have to live with it.
Rolane Grinnell of Pet Partners Worldwide, LLC, a family-owned company, is the creator of the My Pet Pail™ product line. Rolane and his partners pride themselves on developing new, quality, think-outside-the-box pet products that meet the needs of pet owners and offer them real solutions to their challenges of owning a pet. As a pet industry professional, Rolane strives to educate pet owners and improve the quality of pets’ lives by continuously developing innovative solutions for the pet industry. Follow Rolane Grinnell and My Pet Pail on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and LinkedIn or go to www.mypetpail.com.