Ann-Marie Flemming, local owner of Dog Quality won Purolator’s Small Business Dream into Reality Contest. Flemming received a cash prize of $10,000 and $5,000 in Purolator shipping credits. Millar Hill photo.

South Cariboo business wins national innovation contest

‘I learned that there was a lot of people out there like me’

Local business owner Ann-Marie Fleming is a lead example of using innovation to achieve goals, at least according to Purolator.

The South Cariboo based business, Dog Quality, has been taking an inventive approach to improving the quality of life for senior dogs – helping restore their sense of dignity and adventure.

“Mobility and incontinence are big areas that affect seniors dogs and we try to do a lot to manage that,” said Fleming. “It’s an opportunity for us to really make a difference in a dog’s life. It helps make the dog’s life more enjoyable and family members don’t have to be left feeling sad.”

Earlier this year, Purolator set out to make one small business’ dream a reality. The company put together a contest that was easy-to-apply to for small business owners across the country. Small businesses had to submit their stories and explain how they are using innovation to achieve their goals.

“At Purolator, we know that small businesses are the backbone of the economy, they contribute to the countries exports, innovative advancements and domestic products,” said Melanie Cheng-Kai-On, the courier’s director of marketing.

The winner received $10,000 in cash and $5,000 in shipping credits. The Canadian-based courier company chose Fleming’s business.

“We really wanted to find a connection between our commitments at Purolator through leadership and continuous improvement, with our contest winner,” said Cheng-Kai-On. “When we read Ann-Marie’s submission we felt it really aligned with the theme of the contest. She clearly explained how she adopted innovation to launch her business. Her business won the hearts of Canadians across the country.”

Flemming said she was skeptical when her business won. It wasn’t until Purolator contacted her directly, that she believed the news.

“We were really excited when they announced that we were selected amongst the 3,000 applicants. We were told that we left the team at Purolator in tears after they looked through the stories that our customers had. It was great to get their support on this.”

When asked what was done with the money, Flemming said she put it right back into the company, specifically into inventory.

“That is one of our biggest challenges. We are selling at a fast rate and it takes quite a bit of time to take those sales and invest it back into inventory so we avoid running out,” said Flemming. “To get a lump sum like that was wonderful because we put it right back into our inventory. In fact, we specifically put it into the rubber flooring for our ramps, so it helped get another order going much quicker and be able to help more families.”

The idea for the business sparked from personal experience.

“My first two dogs were a french bulldog and a pug,” said Flemming. “I would have never thought about a diaper or stroller until they began to struggle. Everything we do is for senior dogs.”

Flemming looked for help outside of the vet and realized there was a lack of options she had as a dog owner.

“I started the company really small, I tested the waters,” said Flemming. “I learned that there was a lot of people out there like me.”

The company started with diapers for senior dogs and it grew from there. The company now sells strollers, pads, socks and ramps for senior dogs.

“Having a different perspective for this stage of life for dogs is crucial,” said Flemming. “It’s easy to be sad because your dog is slowing down and no longer being able to do what they used to do. We are trying to change that with our products. You don’t have to stop enjoying your life with them – we are just going to do it in a different way that accommodates their needs.”


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