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Husband and Wife Team Open Tennessee’s First Hounds Town USA in Smyrna

As canine adoption rates continue to skyrocket, David and Zena Laubie are providing boarding and pet care for Smyrna’s dog owners.

Local adoption and foster rates have skyrocketed during stay-at-home orders throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Nashville natives David and Zena Laubie, owners of Tennessee’s first Hounds Town USA Smyrna, are looking forward to providing residents with much-needed pet care services as local businesses reopen and people get back to work. 

David and Zena have always been dog people and previously ran a dog boarding business out of their home for 14 years. They have two furry friends of their own and love to have a pack of dogs to look after when owners are working or out of town. After realizing the need for a pet care concept in Nashville, based on the city’s growing population and surging number of recent dog owners, David and Zena could not resist opening up the brand’s first location in Nashville. 

Hounds Town USA exceeded David and Zena’s expectations. The couple saw how the brand was founded around inclusivity, treating every dog as if they were their own and not discriminating against what are commonly referred to as ‘bully breeds.’ 

David and Zena already are in talks of opening a second Hounds Town USA location in the Nashville area after the first is up and running.

1851 Franchise: Tell us a little bit about your background.

David: I graduated from Father Ryan High School in Nashville and received my degree in business at Austin Peay. I spent almost 14 years in Retail Automotive Repair as a general manager of several stores. We are avid dog lovers and we were already boarding dogs out of our house before we discovered and then purchased our Hounds Town franchise. I will be the General Manager of our Hounds Town USA. 

Zena: I attended Tulane University and Auburn University, graduating with a degree in Psychology and Spanish. I am an executive assistant but have worked in the worlds of finance and private equity, along with retail in my younger days. David and I are married and have a young son and two fur babies. I am a Nashville native and 10th generation Nashvillian. I love this city and the surrounding communities. I have always been nuts for dogs, and we have many clients that have used our unofficial in-home care for years. When we began looking for a business to make our own, Hounds Town was a perfect fit! I will be stepping in on weekends for hands-on work while continuing my full-time job during the weekdays. 

1851: How did you hear about Hounds Town USA?

David: My entire life I have always wanted to open my own business. I was in retail and automotive management for 14 years and became restless because I wanted to start something of my own. I originally thought I would be a franchisee in automotive, but Hounds Town USA appealed to us the most.

I started watching videos of Mike Gould [founder and CEO] online and that got us to the Discovery Day. After talking with him and Jackie Bondanza [president] about Hounds Town, that is what cemented it for us. The system and business beliefs clicked and everything felt right. 

1851: Why did you choose Hounds Town USA over other pet care franchises?

David: We would never want to be in a system that discriminated against a dog based on breed. We wanted to emphasize our ideals of letting dogs be dogs. We have been doing in-home boarding and care for dogs for 14 years. Taking that to the next level with a company aligned with our passion for canines, we have signed a 10-year relationship with Mike and Jackie. 

1851: What makes Nashville the perfect market for Hounds Town USA?

David: A lot of people are adopting pets and dogs specifically. However, many people can get a higher energy dog than they were initially expecting. We then provide an outlet for dogs to let that energy out. This is vital to new pet owners during this pandemic. Speaking to our personal experience, all of our furry friends are getting used to us being home so much that as people start going back to their workplaces, dogs are becoming bored and destructive in homes and will create a separation anxiety issue with their owners.

Nashville has a growing population and growing economic outlook due to factors like tourism. There is also a wide range of businesses that employ several hundreds of people. With such a business-orientated city, owners need somewhere they can trust to take care of their furry friends while they are at work. 

Additionally, the pet industry is exploding, especially with the rise of adoptions and fosters during COVID, and this is not just a trend. There is a surge in the number of dog owners, especially in Nashville — one of the top five growing cities in the country — just a winning combination. The demand far exceeds supply in adoption centers and kennels.

1851: Do you have any plans for growth with Hounds Town USA?

David: We do have plans to open more locations in Nashville and surrounding areas, but we want to first focus on this one first. We would consider other cities but see the need in Nashville especially because this market does not have many options like this for customers. A lot of the mom-and-pops don’t have the structural system that Mike and Jackie have put together, such as interactive daycare. A lot of systems are people-centric, we think Nashville is ready for dog-centric. We want to use this to stimulate the economy.

1851: How has COVID-19 affected your opening?

David: We were scheduled to originally open in March. After COVID-19 became widespread in the United States, the construction got pushed back. With the pandemic, dogs need us more than ever. We will be limiting our human customers to one to two at a time in the lobby with facemasks and quickly performing temperament tests in order to build out or doggie customers. Our grand opening will be six weeks after our soft opening. We are offering an opening special of your first week of daycare for free.