Sofia Krusmark Arizona Republic
Saturdays used to be Madisyn and Scott Morris’ special day.
The daughter and father spent a few of those days at the rodeo. Some Saturdays, they’d grab coffee and rummage through antiques shops. Others were for simple joys, like going on a drive to see the sites and watch cows.
Now that they own Sudz Up Mobile Grooming in Anthem, they haven't spent a day apart.
“Every day now is daddy-daughter day,” Madisyn Morris said.
They bought a towable pet-grooming trailer with washing and trimming stations and opened their company on April 15. Since then, the Morrises have groomed more than 350 dogs throughout metro Phoenix. They use all-natural products, and both are certified in pet CPR. They're booked weeks in advance.
Since the pandemic, Scott Morris saw an opportunity in the mobile grooming industry. More people are buying or adopting dogs and fewer people want to take their dogs to brick-and-mortar grooming shops, the Morrises said.
Although they’ve been on the road for just three months, Sudz Up has been nearly 35 years in the making.
Montana was home for Scott. The stockyards were right across the highway, and his family small 7 acre place had horses, dogs, cats and sheep.
When he was 16, he went to school to become a veterinary assistant. He groomed and cared for animals for six years until he went to Montana State University to study CAD drafting and design.
Madisyn attributes her deep love for animals to her dad.
“I came out wanting to hug everything and every single animal,” Madisyn said.
Scott has been the rock for Madisyn and her brother. But the father and daughter especially have always been a team. Scott took midwifery classes and delivered Madisyn. The family moved to Arizona in 2005,
Around that time, Madisyn started going to work with her dad. When she was sick, he made a little bed for her under his desk. When it was time for her to learn how to drive, he taught her how to spin a doughnut. And when Madisyn started grooming dogs, Scott gave her her first set of clippers and a smock.
Their lives haven't been all "sunshine and rainbows," Madisyn said. Scott got laid off one year and Christmas was spent in a hotel so they could save money for their next place to live. Some days, they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. But there's one thing Madisyn has always been sure of: Dad would make it happen.
“I can’t give credit to anyone in my life for raising me besides him. My dad did that,” she said.
There was no one magic moment that started Scott and Madisyn's business.
Scott's sister has groomed dogs for 35 years and mentioned the possibility time and again. Madisyn was grooming dogs for one of her two jobs. And after years of driving a dump truck for a construction company, Scott was ready to own a business. A random ad popped up for a custom mobile grooming trailer, and he applied for a loan.
“It was a shot in the dark,” Scott said.
The loan was approved and the two were off to Texas.
“I got a call and he said, ‘I got a trailer,’" Madisyn said. "And then he goes, ‘We are going to go to McKinney next weekend. Get your stuff packed, take the weekend off work."
The drive home from Texas was when the business really began. As the freshly painted trailer — with a French bulldog smiling in a tub and the phone number stamped on the side — whizzed along the highway, appointments started filing in. They were booked out three weeks before they got home.
For their first month in business, Madisyn and Scott carried on with their full-time jobs. Scott worked in construction while Madisyn worked as a barista and a dog groomer for another company. They groomed dogs on nights and weekends, and though they had no days off, Scott said owning their business was worth the 80-hour weeks.
“I've spent my entire life working hard to make other people's dreams come true", Scott said. "I would get up and go to work every day for a business owner and when I looked at this, I thought, ‘It's a perfect opportunity to put in the hard work to make our own dreams start to come true with the pride of ownership in something that is ours.”
Their grooming trailer is a rolling billboard, the two said. People call after seeing it. And the more dogs they groom, the more word gets around.
Their business model is as simple as their marketing. Madisyn and Scott answer the calls and groom the dogs. Scott's wife, Susan Smith, handles the paperwork and accounting.
“The only person we need to ask when we want a day off is her,” Scott said of his wife.
Madisyn and Scott drive their trailer to the client's home or business. A little table on the left inside the trailer is for dog washing. A table in the middle is for clipping. Scott and Madisyn fit perfectly in the small space.
The two remember the first dog they groomed, Gracie — a 12-year-old golden retriever. She was the "sweetest little baby," Madisyn said — though that's what they say about most of the dogs who jump into the trailer.
They talked about River, a 14-year-old blind, toothless Shih Tzu. He'd always gone to in-store groomers, said Candy Silvestri, his owner. River would be kenneled for hours, passed around by multiple people and surrounded by barking dogs.
"I felt like a bad mom," she said.
She found Sudz Up Mobile Grooming on Facebook, and she's booked five appointments so far.
"It doesn’t feel like a job to them. It seems like they’ve found their purpose," Silvestri said.
Madisyn and Scott say not much has changed between them since they started the business. They're as close as they ever were. They still finish each other’s sentences. When working in the trailer, each knows what the other is reaching for without even asking.
But one thing has changed. Every time they hop into their red Dodge Ram Hemi that tows the trailer, they know they are living their new shared dream. Scott didn't always know this would be his dream but, at age 50, he said it is. Madisyn, just shy of 20, agrees.
“This is my dream and, at 19, I got it,” she said.
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