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Paragon and Learn2GroomDogs.com Founder Makes Pet Age’s Power 50 List

Melissa Verplank, CMG, petentreneur and founder of the Paragon companies, was recognized by Pet Age as one of the “Power 50” influencers and visionaries who’ve improved the pet care industry.

According to the popular trade magazine and media brand, the inaugural Power 50 list is designed to recognize the people whose vital work has made a substantial impact on the pet market. The selection team identified the people influencing the pet care community in positive way.

“The Power 50 honorees are making important contributions to the pet care community, to the well-being of companion animals and using their dogged drive and steadfast leadership to pursue uncharted territory in the pet care industry,” Pet Age wrote in its article.

“I am deeply honored to be included in this collection of outstanding industry icons,” Verplank said. “Our work at Paragon is truly a team effort and our impact on the industry was made possible through the synergy of our collective talents.”

Honorees of the Power 50 include mavericks such as Chris Rowland, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus, Mike Bober from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, and Andrea Faccio from Nestle Purina.

Pet Age cited Verplank’s involvement in the ground level of the voluntary certification testing programs, where she earned her Certified Master Groomer title in the mid-1980s. She was a member of the traveling team for GroomTeam USA, representing the United States in World Team Competition in France in the early 1990s. Later, she was the GroomTeam USA team coordinator, served on the board of directors and currently sits on its advisory board. She assisted in the start-up of the International Judges Association and is an approved grooming judge with the United Showmanagers Alliance. Today, she remains a highly sought-after industry speaker, contest grooming judge, author and a two-time Cardinal Crystal Achievement winner.

Verplank’s foundational Notes From the Grooming Table and Theory of Five are perennial top sellers in the grooming instruction category and underpin the curricular development of Paragon’s educational platform. Verplank founded Learn2GroomDogs.com in 2011 and took the renowned Paragon School of Pet Grooming online in 2018 to extend its reach, training individuals and corporate teams.

“Our unifying mission across the Paragon companies is to elevate the grooming profession and those who work in the industry to the highest possible standard through continuing education. For my own skill development and the thousands I’ve witnessed who’ve become better groomers, I know first-hand that education is everything,” Verplank said.





Hershey Groom Expo

The Paragon and Learn2GroomDogs.com team will be at Hershey Groom Expo 2021!

Stop by our booth to meet the team and learn more about our services!

When: September 9-12, 2021

Where: Booth #7

Register for Groom Expo

Facebook Live Event: Dog Is Good

You’re not going to want to miss this month’s Facebook Live, it’s going to be GOOD! Join us Thursday August 26, at 6pm EST to learn creative ways to…

  • Leverage your time to make money effortlessly.
  • Offer strategic retail streams that don’t require inventory or staffing
  • Enlist your client base to help you make more revenue

Your Hosts: Joe Zuccarello & Gila Kurtz

Join us this Thursday, with Dog Is Good!

Visit Facebook Page

Webinar: The $15/hour Wage

Joe Zuccarello will be joining forces with National Kennel Sales & Appraisals to offer a FREE Webinar on May 6th, 2021 at 1pm EST to discuss The $15/Hour Wage.

Does the thought of paying a minimum wage of $15 have you questioning what you can do to absorb such a cost in your business? Is the pool of available employee candidates drying up or completely void in your area right now?

Is this really going to be imposed on businesses or should this be something we will need to do regardless of new laws?

In this session, Joe will be touching on the topics that will greatly impact your hiring decisions.

  • Turnover
  • Retention
  • Training
  • Efficiencies
  • Opportunities

Register Now

Practice Makes Pooch Perfect: An Interview with Groomer Contestant Deb Compton

How do you go from an everyday bather to Pooch Perfect all-star stylist? If you’re Deb Compton, the answer is that practice makes perfect.

“Never stop learning. Always seek out judgment, and learn to take critique because you can’t grow without it.”

Compton and her son Jordan Jones made their debut on Rebel Wilson’s Pooch Perfect. The pair joined ten top groomers competing from across the country in ABC’s latest canine fashion reality show. At stake is a $100,000 grand prize.

Striving to be the best is, according to Compton, in her blood. But it really wasn’t until she experienced working alongside nine other top groomers that she felt she belonged there.

“It was so awesome to meet all the Facebook friends and people whose work I’ve followed for years – to be there with them shoulder to shoulder. I felt like a fan-girl,” she said.

A Foundation in Bathing

Compton started working in the pet industry when she was 16. When Petco needed groomers in South Florida in 2003, she signed up, not knowing exactly what that would entail. After a couple of days of bathing, she was thrown into the training program to fast-track her way forward in the grooming kingdom. Today, as Regional Grooming Team Lead at Pet Supplies Plus in Wisconsin, she prefers her hires spend at least 90 days bathing first before pursuing the profession as a groomer.

“Bathing is half the groom. There’s so much you need to learn about dog handling, coat types, and using the right products,” she said. She’s delighted that PSP now has a structured bathing course for their employees through Paragon Pet School’s Distance Learning program. “This standardization is the best thing that has happened to training at PSP.”

The first episode of Pooch Perfect relied heavily on the lessons learned in the tub in what might be called a bathing skills bonanza. The teams hustled to combat enemy #1 – mud, lots and lots of mud. So much mud that team Compton had to re-bathe, she admits.
“Never underestimate the power of mud.”

Trials and Tribulations

True to her own advice to novice groomers, Compton turns every trial into a lesson to do better. She once was disqualified from a competition for missing a matt in the armpit of a deep-chested Portuguese Water Dog – an omission caught by eagle-eyed judge and Learn2GroomDogs.com trainer, Lisa Leady. She went on to persevere in the competition ring for eight years, triumphing in All American Creative for her sumptuous sculptures. Although at one time “terrifying,” the experience in competitions helped prepare her for the pressures of performing on Pooch Perfect.

In competitions and on the show, Compton relies on her artistic background to craft creative results using coloring and sculpting techniques.

Colorful Inspiration Through Groomer Community

Her inspiration came from hours of watching icon “Pina” Irina Pinkusevich create masterpieces in Learn2GroomDogs.com tutorials and elsewhere.
“Watching (Pinkusevich) I had a transformative moment where I realized it was a form of subtractive sculpting, using the dog’s body as leverage.”

This epiphany propelled Compton to hone her skills while simultaneously running her own grooming salon, In the Dogz House, for a decade while homeschooling her children. From the vantage of a Salon Owner, she said grooming can be a lonely business if you don’t reach out to work with others in the groomer community and continually sharpen your skills. Two years ago, she joined Pet Supplies Plus, a move she says gave her the best of both worlds due to the company’s highly personalized approach. Her son Jordan, who trained with her since he was 14 years old, now also works with PSP.

The Pooch Perfect Experience

In addition to the camaraderie of working with fellow groomers on Pooch Perfect, the show also gave Compton and her son a unique opportunity to bond in both a personal and professional capacity.

“It was amazing. I learned how much I had to rely on him and to know when to ask for help. It really strengthened our relationship.”

While she can’t share too many details of what’s to come in future episodes, she said the casting company did a great job bringing all kinds of different dogs to the show.

“It was nice to be able to bring everything I had to every dog I worked on,” Compton said.

Rebel Wilson’s organic and rapid-fire wittiness on and off the camera made the experience memorable, and the collegial bonding among groomers gave the time in California a “summer camp for groomers” vibe. But apart from being a once-in-a-lifetime personal experience, Compton hopes Pooch Perfect gives something beyond entertainment to its audience.

“What I hope comes from the show is that people sitting in their living rooms who love connecting with animals realize that making them beautiful is an actual, rewarding career. I hope it inspires them to take the next step in life.”

The first episode of Pooch Perfect premieres on ABC at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30. The Trio of Celebrity Judges include TV personality Lisa Vanderpump, dog groomer Jorge Benersky and veterinarian Dr. Callie Harris.



Grooming has exploded ever since the COVID pandemic hit.  Nationwide, pet care facilities are reporting  extreme surge in in demand for grooming services that has yet to decline.  NOW is the time to re-think Grooming, whether you currently offer the service or not!

Our  very own Joe Zuccarello has partnered with National Kennel Sales and Appraisals to bring this virtual learning course about how to add a profitable grooming service to your facility or how to re-structure your existing one to make it easier to manage and again, PROFITABLE!  This is an incredible opportunity to learn how to provide Grooming in the right structure and avoid (or stop!) all the headaches typically associated with this service.

If you’re wondering whether to attend or not, consider these questions:

  • Do you have a grooming business, but, it seems to give you more problems than profit?
  • Do you see potential in a grooming business but just don’t know how to launch?
  • Are you paying more than 40% in grooming wages?
  • Do you know what the best compensation method is?  Salary?  Hourly?
  • Are you comfortable with ’selling’ or struggle with the stigma?
  • Would you like to generate 20%, 30%, 40% or more in profit?

A “YES!” answer to any of these questions is your reason to attend this 3 session course!

SESSION ONE: To Groom or Not to Groom?! Thursday, August 20th

The Revenue Potential for Grooming Services
How to launch
Stopping problems, adding profits
The formula for a profitable grooming business
Key ingredients of success
The impact of grooming on your business during the pandemic

SESSION TWO: Recommending with Conviction  Thursday, August 27th
Overcoming the stigma of ’selling’
How  to generate 20%, 30%, 40% or more in profits
Selling add-on services to Grooming

SESSION THREE: Profit Power of Grooming   Thursday, September 3rd
Staff Roles and Compensation
Methods and rates of groomer compensation
Analyze groomer talents and how to best use them
How to find, and grow, groomers

Register Now

Webinar: The Power of the Bath Ft. Joe Zuccarello & The Dog Gurus

Who knew there was a way to GROW your grooming business AND your grooming team that was MUCH easier than looking for groomers?!

Well, there IS! And you have the chance to learn how.

  • Shouldn’t grooming help you grow your overall pet care business
  • Shouldn’t grooming be more profitable?
  • Shouldn’t grooming be easier to staff?

The answer to all of these questions is YES! It should! Join us for our grooming webinar workshop and learn how YOU can have a stronger grooming business.

Normally $99, this workshop is now only $79, but hurry….space is limited.


Register Now

Paragon is Going National

The Paragon School of Pet Grooming is excited to announce a new era of educational excellence. We have transitioned to a totally digital learning platform!

Together, with our membership platform, Learn2GroomDogs.com, Paragon will expand online learning resources for professional pet groomers across the globe.

The move is a natural extension for us. In 2008, Paragon introduced our first home study program. In 2018, innovative changes were made to those programs to improve and enhance the learning experience.

Today, students learn online with Paragon’s structured training system. The Paragon team works closely with individuals. Salon owners. And corporate stores. The programs have received impressive reviews. We have helped hundreds of students learn how to groom, while never leaving their hometown.

Established in 2011, Learn2GroomDogs.com has a robust video library. Currently, we have over 1,000 streaming lessons taught by top grooming experts. Whether you are a beginning groomer or a seasoned pro, the library has something for everyone.

The on-campus division of Paragon was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, a difficult decision was made. We have permanently closed our hands-on training center in Jenison, Michigan.

We have loved our “face-time” with the West Michigan community. We’ve enjoyed pampering local pups in the training of our talented alumni.

Thanks to Paragon’s rich history, there are plenty of skilled groomers in West Michigan. They are well-equipped to assist clients who frequented the school for their pet’s grooming needs.

According to Joe Zuccarello, Paragon’s Vice President, “By concentrating on our digital platforms, we feel we can best serve today’s learner.”

“Closing the physical campus of the Paragon Pet School is bittersweet. It has been the foundation – and progression – of our curriculum for 28 years,” said Melissa Verplank, our Founder. “However, the move makes sense. It highlights our commitment to our goals for digital expansion.”

If you are interested in learning how to become a professional pet groomer, we invite you to explore the Paragon Distance Learning Program. Current groomers should watch for opportunities to build your knowledge and grow your skillset through video lessons, virtual short-courses, workshops, and webinars.

Grooming Education Awards Announced – Multiple Award Winner

Paragon Is Voted Top Dog in Pet Grooming Industry Educator Awards

Grand Rapids, MI – The Paragon School of Pet Grooming is humbled to be voted #1 in three categories and nominated in a fourth for its contribution to education in the Pet Grooming Industry.

#1 Grooming School: Paragon School of Pet Grooming

Paragon received top honors for its professional pet grooming training program.

#1 Grooming Book: The Theory of Five by Melissa Verplank

Melissa Verplank’s innovative guidebook took first place in the Grooming Book category. Learn More

#1 Grooming Webinar: Learn2GroomDogs.com Member Webinars

Membership-based webinars at Learn2GroomDogs.com were recognized for their excellence. Learn More

The team for the “Hey Joe!” pet professional podcast hosted by Paragon VP Joe Zuccarello was also delighted to receive the acknowledgment of nomination in its inaugural year.

“We live and breathe for the advancement of professional groomer education so we are deeply honored to receive this recognition from our peers in the industry,” said Melissa Verplank, founder of Paragon companies and esteemed author of The Theory of Five and Notes from the Grooming Table.

“Each and every nominee should be proud of the work they’re doing to elevate our profession across North America. We are united in our passion for professionalism.”

Verplank’s own quest for the highest level of professionalism has lead her on a 30-year journey in pet grooming where she’s won numerous national and international awards, including competitor and director status at GroomTeamUSA. She has founded and owned multiple companies, including a fleet of mobile groomers, Whiskers Pet Resort and Spa, the Paragon School of Pet Grooming and its related companies, Learn2GroomDogs.com and White Dog Enterprises. Both her trials and her triumphs as a self-taught groomer have inspired her quest to share knowledge and accelerate professionalism and respect for the pet grooming industry around the world.

“I am so happy to see the grooming community come together in the Pet Grooming Industry Educator Awards to acknowledge the efforts of the many talented people who have taken up the cause,” she said.

We love helping people improve their grooming skills and turning their dreams into reality… There is nothing more inspiring than watching people find their success.

The Pet Grooming Industry Educator Awards

The awards, introduced earlier this year, are determined by crowd-sourced polling within the pet grooming industry. They are designed to recognize fellow industry educators who invest in the lives and livelihood of others.

In addition to the awards in the Grooming School, Book and Webinar categories, Paragon is especially proud of its Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Experts, who independently were voted #1 in the following categories:

#1 Livestream: Colin Taylor

London-born Colin Taylor has a long history of being an international super star in the world of professional pet grooming. Colin is certified by the United Kingdom City and Guild plus a Certified Master Groomer in the United States. His accomplishments and influence in the pet industry is beyond impressive. Visit Learn2GroomDogs.com to learn more about Colin.

Colin’s Bio

#1 On-Site Skills Classes: Lisa Leady

Lisa Leady is a third-generation groomer, with over 25 years experience. She is also a clinician, speaker, Certified Master Groomer, and Certifier for IPG. She has many Best All Around and Best in Show placements. Lisa is a multiple Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award nominee and was the recipient of the 2003 Congeniality Award. Visit Learn2GroomDogs.com to learn more about Lisa.

Lisa’s Bio

#1 On-Site Educational Classes: Dave Campanella

Dave is an informative and entertaining seminar speaker, contributing trade columnist and genuine grooming enthusiast. He is Best Shot Products’ sales and marketing Director and has over 25 years of pet industry knowledge and experience. Visit Learn2GroomDogs.com to learn more about Dave.

Dave’s Bio

Education is Everything

Professional development is the unifying mission across Paragon’s various educational platforms, including its Online professional groomer programs, it’s publications through White Dog Enterprises, and its membership-based video streaming community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where groomers can be coached by the best the industry offers.

“We love helping people improve their grooming skills and turning their dreams into reality. We love helping others become more efficient. Become smarter business owners. Become better managers. There is nothing more inspiring than watching people find their success,” said Verplank.

About the Pet Grooming Industry Educator Awards:
For a complete list of nominees and winners, visit: https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixEdAwards/

About The Paragon School of Pet Grooming:
Online School Programs: Visit https://paragonpetschool.com/home-study/

About The Theory of Five:
Visit https://paragonpetschool.com/product/theory-of-5/

About Learn2GroomDogs.com:
Visit: https://www.learn2groomdogs.com/

About “Hey Joe!” A Podcast For Pet Professionals, By Pet Professionals:
Visit: https://paragonpetschool.com/resource-center/podcasts/

Contact Information:
Paragon School of Pet Grooming

Joe Zuccarello, Vice President
(636) 577-8772

Paragon School of Grooming Teams Up with Pet Connections Expo

Free educational offerings include Adding Grooming Services, Hiring, and Training Groomers

Pet Connections Expo & Paragon Pet School announced today that they will be partnering for the Pet Connections Expo 2019 show, October 15-16 in NJ. The expo sets itself apart by providing free education exclusively for pet retailers to grow their business and be able to compete with the larger retailers and online pet stores. Paragon will serve as the educational partner, with a free seminar by Paragon VP Joe Zuccarello, floor sessions plus a VIP coffee chat.

“We were thrilled to get the call from Pet Connections Expo, inviting Paragon to be the exclusive pet grooming education partner at this year’s event! We will have lots of opportunities at the event to meet retailers and show them this solution first hand,” says Joe Zuccarello, Vice President of Paragon and Host of “Hey Joe!” a podcast created by pet professionals for pet professionals.

Joe Zuccarello will be delivering a presentation on Tuesday morning entitled Build Your Retail Business by Finding and Keeping Good Groomers. In addition to this mainstage presentation, Paragon will be delivering sessions for retailers from their booth on the show floor throughout the two days of the show. These topics include:

  • Getting the Most Profit Out of Your Grooming Service
  • How Do I Find Groomers
  • Creating a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave
  • How to Make Grooming Services and Retail Work Together
  • Customer Experience Factor – Beyond the Product


Bill Doherty, Pet Connections Expo Show Director states, “We are excited to be working with Paragon on these educational offerings that are very important for independent retailers to stand out from their competition and gain market share. In addition, all retailers that register for Pet Connections Expo will receive a voucher to use towards Paragon’s Distance Learning Program.”

In addition to the sessions at the show, Paragon will also be holding a VIP Coffee Chat on Wednesday morning before the Retailer Boot Camp kicks off. This will be an informal discussion with a limited number of retailers that will address the realities of grooming services. Representatives from Paragon will share first-hand experiences and stories of retailers who have successfully planned, launched, and grown their grooming businesses and how they did it. This VIP Coffee Chat is limited to only fifteen retailers so it is recommended to register early.

Register Now


About Paragon School of Grooming

Paragon School of Pet Grooming sets the bar when it comes to excellence in pet grooming education. While Paragon has served thousands of On-Campus students in the last 30 years, our new approach called the Distance Learning Program captures the on-campus experience and delivers it to students all across the world. Blending technology, a proven curriculum, and support by world-class mentors, more students are graduating and starting their careers than ever before. This program is especially attractive to pet supply retailers who are looking to bolster their grooming services offering, but who continue to struggle with finding groomers and managing their salons.


About Pet Connections Expo

In its third year, Pet Connections Expo is a trade-only event for pet professionals, offering free, educational sessions that help independent retailers compete with the larger brick and mortars, as well as the online giants. Buyers and suppliers from around the country attend to buy and sell products, just in time for the holiday rush, network with partners, pitch and exchange ideas, and so much more. For more information, visit www.petconexpo.com, https://twitter.com/PetConExpo, and https://www.facebook.com/Petconexpo.


About ICDevents
International Conference Development, LLC (ICDevents) produces high-quality conferences and tradeshows in a broad range of industries. Utilizing intensive, detailed market research, ICDevents creates targeted events designed to encourage companies to send their entire teams to problem-solve, network, and brainstorm with other industry leaders, consultants, and suppliers. To learn more, visit www.ICDevents.com.


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