It’s a good thing that Wilhelm Beckmann is a strapping man — he gets a real workout in his mobile grooming business Sudzy Dogz with “big and fuzzy dogs” such as Great Danes and St. Bernards, breeds which he also has shown for 20 years.
As many transplants, he and his wife Kathryn had visited Port Angeles and fell in love with the Olympic Peninsula, so when the opportunity came up to sell half of their Colorado business, the couple moved lock, stock and dogs, with their fully equipped mobile salon, to Sequim in January. In that short time, Sudzy Dogz has attracted 20 customers via word of mouth, small ads and Valpak coupons.
Dog grooming in Colorado is under the auspices of its Department of Agriculture which requires high standards, standards Beckmann adheres to in Washington, noting that “Washington has nothing regarding grooming standards.”
“When you’re dropping off your four-legged child, you want to make sure you’re putting it in good hands,” the 51-year-old Beckmann said. “We have very high standards — I will develop a relationship with each dog — we’re very customer service-oriented. I’ll call the night before, send out reminder cards and listen to the owner. I think that’s a huge difference, the TLC that I give.”
With all his years of showing dogs, starting a grooming business three years ago was just a natural fit, Beckmann said.
A Colorado customer had this praise: “Wilhelm has done a wonderful job with my wiggle worm springer and I know he’s not an easy customer. Wil is very kind and gentle with my boy and I’ve been very happy with their service. Very convenient … I recommend them to others.”
The climate-controlled mobile unit is a 2015 Mercedes Benz Sprinter, well lit and gleaming inside and out. At 20 feet long, it’s a fully equipped grooming salon with its own hot/cold water, power, tub, two high velocity driers, a clipper vacuum and even satellite radio to soothe uneasy dogs. With Deena, his champion 110-pound St. Bernard, Beckmann demonstrated how a large dog walks onto the motorized adjustable table, is raised up and steps smoothly into the tub.
“It’s easier for the dog and me,” Beckmann said, with Deena agreeing as she hopped into the stainless steel tub.
“The nice thing about it is when I’m at the customer’s house, their dogs are a lot calmer — Mom and Dad can hang out with their dog. I tend to do elderly, big and problematic dogs,” Beckmann said.
“I build a relationship with the customer that makes it so I can afford to spend time with the dog and time with the pet parents to help them take care of their dog better, especially with a new dog,” Beckmann said. “They have to learn me and I have to learn them so it’s a mutual relationship. I do build bonds with dogs — they’re not somebody’s thing — they’re a family member.”
Beckmann charges a flat fee by breed — large, fluffy dogs like labradoodles, with their cascades of curls, will take more time and effort than a 6-pound Maltese.
“The other day I spent two hours each on two labradoodles. In a grooming session I bathe the dog twice, apply conditioner, trim nails and pad hair, clean their ears and pluck ear hair if needed — it’s all inclusive,” Beckmann said. “I also do breed cuts — all breeds have specific cuts — and I have certification through a dog grooming school in Colorado.”
Upbeat and gregarious, Beckmann said the best part of his job is that “I’m doing what I love and it makes me feel good. It’s very rewarding when you’re done — when the dogs are clean, they feel so good and are happy that they’re just jumping around — and you can’t help but feel good about that.”
Hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays by appointment and Beckmann tries to group his appointments by town. His service area is from Blyn to Port Angeles.
“We’re very happy to be here and want to be part of the community so Deena and I will be in the Irrigation Festival parade because it will be fun!”
He plans for Sudzy Dogz to become a member of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce and to personally become a member of the Hurricane Ridge Kennel Club. For an appointment, call 360-504-3202.