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The Great Franchisee: Cindy Thurmond, Hounds Town USA, Atlanta

The former HR executive and lifelong dog-lover is leaving the corporate world behind to start her own business with the fast-growing doggie daycare franchise.

By Veronica Smith.1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 10:10AM 03/05/21

Cindy Thurmond has always had a passion for animals. Now, the former human resources executive is turning that passion into a new career as she leaves the corporate world behind to open her own business with Hound Town USA, the 10-plus-unit doggie daycare franchise out of New York.

Thurmond, whose father was a veterinarian, says the career change brings her full circle, back to her days helping animals and their owners at her father’s business, and she’s excited to apply her love for animals as one of Hounds Town’s newest franchisees.

1851 Franchise: Tell us your story – what did you do before franchising?

Cindy Thurmond: I have been in corporate human resources my entire career. I call myself a corporate refugee. I graduated from college, moved to Miami, got my first job in retail, and it morphed into an accidental career in human resources. 

I met my husband and relocated to Atlanta in 1992. I’ve worked for a number of industries in HR: health care, telecommunications, and most recently in aerospace defense. Each industry has its own nuances, but I was ready for a change. 

I have a passion for dogs. This new business offers me a greater sense of purpose. If you’re going to work really hard, why not do something that you’re really passionate about? 

I am from a small town in West Tennessee, near Memphis. Growing up, my father was a veterinarian. I feel like I had the best childhood ever having a dad who was a vet in a small town for large and small animals. I think I inherited that drive and passion from him because I was fortunate enough to work alongside him. I did everything from kennel girl, receptionist and vet technician to surgical assistant. 

Growing up and seeing how important it is to establish a clientele, get to know the community and to volunteer, I think these are all values I inherited from him. When you help a pet, you’re helping the owners too. People are passionate about their dogs because they are family. That is something that has always stayed with me. I feel like I have come full circle since my days helping my father in high school and college. My dad had a wonderful career and was a wonderful person, and he lived a very full life. 

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Thurmond: A friend put me in contact with a franchise consultant. I worked with her for a long time and looked at so many franchises. I came close to another franchise, but it wasn’t meant to be, and I’m glad it didn't work out because it brought me to Hounds Town USA. My franchise consultant was so great to work with, and I can’t imagine having to do this on my own. 

1851: Why did you pick franchising over starting your own business?

Thurmond: I knew the way a franchise operates and that you have that built-in formula for everything. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I think with CEO Mike Gould and President Jackie Bodanza’s backgrounds, experience and expertise, it was just a good fit. I just felt I couldn’t go into a business solo. 

1851: What types of brands did you look at?

Thurmond: The fitness industry, which was another passion of mine. A dog-training franchise, home health care, senior care, childhood tutoring, beauty and wellness, and so many more. If it’s not something you’re passionate about, then you’re not going to do it well. I couldn’t do something well that I’m not passionate about. Life is too short.

1851: Why did you pick Hounds Town USA? What excited you most about the brand’s potential?

Thurmond: I think Mike and Jackie were a big part of why I chose Hounds Town USA. Mike, with his background and experience, knows and understands dogs. That was very appealing to me. He understands dog behavior and is very knowledgeable. They were both great, and they were a big part of why I chose Hounds Town USA. 

I’m excited for everything: getting the process started, finding my location, building a rapport with the community and establishing the brand. I really want to do well. I know if I do well, I help Jackie and Mike do well. Building that name recognition is important, and it’s exciting to be part of a growing franchise and industry. With COVID, the animal shelters were emptying out, so it’s exciting that this has become a popular industry. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Thurmond: I think being successful and conquering the competition. A year or so from now, if people think of doggie daycare and boarding, they will automatically think of Hounds Town USA. It would be appealing to be the place for people to take their dog for doggie daycare. A place that is competent, with good people and knowledge. A place where people feel comfortable leaving their dogs for the day. 

1851: What value do you see your business providing to the community?

Thurmond: We provide excellent service for dogs and for pet owners. I think it’s important that people have somewhere they know, understand and trust. I want to provide a sense of community and be the doggie daycare of choice. Sometimes dogs are like children, so I’m excited to build camaraderie within the pet industry.

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Thurmond: To be patient and not settle. I think sometimes things happen for a reason, so be patient. 

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Thurmond: I took up snow skiing in my mid-50s, and although I am a novice, it is my new passion. I grew up helping my family raise horses and had a beloved show horse. I enjoy fitness, live music and travel with friends and my two grown daughters.


Since 2000, Hounds Town USA has offered a safe and welcoming environment for dogs to be dogs. With interactive doggie daycare, pet boarding, dog grooming, a pet taxi and retail services, Hounds Town USA’s unique town for dogs is home to the happiest dogs — and franchise owners — on Earth. Founded by former NYPD canine handler and commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department Michael S. Gould, Hounds Town USA has grown to more than 10 locations with plans to expand to 30 units before 2023. For more information please visit