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Tub Safety with Troy Ratliff

Special Guests

Troy Ratliff

Troy Ratliff is the owner of Alpha Grooming Products and a professional mobile groomer. He graduated from Nash Academy in Lexington, KY in 2003. His older brother, Travis, had recently completed his training and purchased a grooming salon. Troy thought it was a cool idea, so he went to work for his brother in 2004. Troy currently operates out of a self-designed mobile grooming trailer. He originally purchased a complete trailer, but the poor quality and design pushed him to create his own. Troy loves the variety of skill and the never-ending desire for groomers to not only improve, but to help others improve as well.

Joe Zuccarello interviews Troy Ratliff of Alpha Grooming Products on bathing safety. Different dogs have different needs – having the right tub setup is crucial for your clients and your team!

  • How do you prevent back issues from leaning over the tub?
  • Are bars and rings enough when securing a dog?
  • How do you avoid slips in the bathing area?
  • What can you do to improve the bathing workflow?

Tune in to find out.

Be sure to Visit the Alpha Grooming Products Website when listening to our show!

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    Announcer: Welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast answering questions asked by our listeners Created by pet professionals for pet professionals. And now your host, Hey, Joe’s very own Joe Zuccarello.

    Joe Zuccarello: What’s up everyone, Joe Zuccarello here and welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site@paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

    Hello there again, the Hey Joe listener audience. This is your host, Joe Zuccarello and I am pleased to bring you a new, Hey Joe podcast guest today. Before we get started, I just want to remind everybody of who sponsors this podcast. Obviously, I have the utmost honor of leading a great team of educators@theparagonschoolofpetgroomingandlearntogroomdogs.com. The Hey Joe podcast can be found on many different platforms, but certainly on the Paragonpetschool.com website as well.

    Today, I am joined by somebody that I have met fairly recently. A lot of the guests that I have on the Hey Joe podcast, I’ve known for several years, but I will tell you that this particular person and this particular person’s experience and the products that he has created caught my attention. It was sort of like that movie that line you had me at hello. I saw these products and knew that I wanted to know more about these products, because I could see that these products were built to last and built with intention. And he’s going to explain his background and how he came about inventing and producing these products. So without further ado, I want to introduce you to Troy. And Troy is the owner of Alpha Grooming Products. Troy, thank you so much for agreeing to be a guest on the Hey Joe podcast today.

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for inviting me. I was surprised and happy to do it, so we’re good.

    Joe Zuccarello: So Troy, we met at the Atlanta pet fair just a couple of months ago now, right? Your booth happened to just be luckily, I guess, maybe right across from the Paragon booth, so we had a lot of time when we were conversing back and forth. But Troy, tell us a little bit about your experience and how Alpha Grooming Products came to be.

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah, so just from the very beginning, I went to Nash academy in Lexington, Kentucky, way back in 2003, graduated there. And while I was there, I was kind of an unofficial intern, I guess you might say, close to the end. And I just went around and helped everyone get further along or whatever. And I just loved it. So my brother is a groomer also, I think you met him, Travis was at the show. But anyhow, he went to the school just before me, maybe a year or so and so that’s how I ended up there. And I went back to the school and taught for a short period. Then my wife and I had our first baby and decided to move from Lexington to Western, Kentucky in Owensboro. So I worked for my brother for a while in Lexington, and now he actually works for us running a mobile truck in Lexington.

    Troy Ratliff: So both him and I are full-time mobile groomers in Kentucky. Then alpha came about with so many tools that I was using that were subpar and not working for very long if they worked well at all. There were some that were out there that were really nice and then I would kind of look at those and ask that why can’t everything be this nice. So once I realized that it was all about doing it as cheap as possible, we decided to start making our own stuff just for me personally. And then I would make something, give it to my brother or give it to some other groomer friends, and everybody was so encouraging to make it more of a bulk item. So we started doing that in 2013 and that’s when Alpha the inception was official. So the first bio theme loop that I produced was somewhere in like 2010 or ’11, and then we made an official company in 2013. So that’s how-

    Joe Zuccarello: I know your brother have like an engineering background, obviously there’s something there, right? There’s something there that, I see something that I’m using, there’s got to be a way to make it better. I mean, that’s sort of the MO of an engineer, right?

    Troy Ratliff: Thankfully, no, I’m not an engineer, I’ve met some. No, I’m just kidding. But no, my dad was very carpenter oriented. Growing up, he was always building things. Him and mom were always whatever, making things better, coming up with ideas for, we had a small farm, I guess you might say it’s just five or seven acres, something like that. Had some cows and so there was always need for something to be fixed or repaired. So I guess just watching him and building stuff with him and holding that flashlight when we were working on the cars or whatever, I just kind of got the idea that most of the time, it’s better to do it yourself if you know how to do it. And then if you don’t, you got to find somebody that really does or you’ll be disappointed.

    Troy Ratliff: But right now I don’t have a no engineering officially, but I guess it does come from somewhere. But I guess on down the line, my granddad was more just really carpenter, inter oriented, I guess you would say, they just knew how to build anything and they would do it. And then they always did it with excellence. I was looking at my dad’s deck for instance, and just walked underneath of it and I was like, “This is a really, really strong, probably over the top deck.” So I guess I got it honest, everything it ought to be as good as you can possibly make it. And this what we’re doing with Alpha, hopefully it’s also something that we can sell and make it profitable and not have to sell it for ridiculous money. But doing things well is expensive and that’s kind of how that goes generally.

    Joe Zuccarello: Well. To your point about the deck that was just standard in the day, right? Now we look at it and say, it’s over-engineered. Well, no that really should be the way it’s done. We’ve settled for, I think for most products and services, we’ve actually settled for less in most cases. And I’ve mentioned before on podcasts, on the services side, just as consumers in general have settled for mediocracy. I mean, if somebody keeps our water glass full at the restaurant, we think that they are like some superstar server for us because we’ve settled for so much less. So I really appreciate the intent that you and your brother bring to Alpha Grooming Products, because for those of you in the HARO listener audience, we’re going to introduce a couple of these products to you, and there’s a lot of them, but we’re going to introduce a couple that really caught my attention.

    Joe Zuccarello: I will tell you this, I’ve been into business for over three decades and I’ve worked with thousands of dog groomers probably millions of dogs and grooming appointments. When you put your hands on some of these products, you’re going to see, you’re going to feel the difference right off the bat. And that for alpha is standard. That’s not over-engineered. But for today’s topic though, Troy, you and I are going to be talking all about the tub. And this is going to make sense for all the listeners out there in a minute, because there was a lot of products that alpha has, but there was one product that just really caught my attention and was really the inspiration behind this whole episode of the podcast. So I’m sure Troy’s going to come back for future episodes as well, where maybe we can talk about some other Alpha Grooming Products as well. But for today, we’re going to talk about the tub.

    Joe Zuccarello: We spend so much of our time as grooming professionals at the tub that I think sometimes we overlook the safety aspects of the tub and where we can maybe even pick up some efficiencies at the tub. So these safe for pets and people grooming procedures at the tub. Very first one is, Troy and our show prep where you’re talking about ergonomics, right? This is certainly more for the people than it is for the pets. To a degree, we’re going to tie the pets in a minute, but this ergonomics.

    Joe Zuccarello: I did a whole podcast with Dr. Matthew Finney. And he talked about groomers because of the physical nature of professional grooming that he compared groomers to what he called occupational athletes. We are going to battle every day, We’re working hard. This is a physical job So anything we can do to help ourselves help the pets, I think we should pay attention to. So it’s really this bending and reaching and leaning over that causes some back issue. So in your experience, where can these, the bending and reaching, and leaning, where can that lead us down Sort of a bad path?

    Troy Ratliff: Whenever I first started, I had very little experience as far as different tub setups and things like that and building them and we knew kind of obviously that it ought to be elevated on a platform or something. So when I built my first trailer, grooming trailer, when I had it built, it was very, very simple with just a home style bathtub. And I wanted it up certain I kind of measured my waist height and all these things, but one thing I did not consider is that even at the proper, the “proper height”, we still, if it was a little dog, it was going to still be in the bottom of the tub and you still had to be just ever so slightly bent over to do that.

    Troy Ratliff: And over a full day, five days, six days a week for months and months and months, it’s a slow fade or whatever you want to say, but your lower back will definitely suffer from that. And so, one of the very first things that I ever did was to design a tub and we know, talk about over-engineering. It was way over the top ex ridiculously expensive just to produce even if we went in bulk. So anyways, it just didn’t work out for retail, but we made the platform inside the tub on an actuator. So it would go up and down inside the tub. And I remember the very-

    Joe Zuccarello: I’ve seen tubs that go up and down, right? The whole tub’s up and down, but you’re saying that you built this over-engineered very expensive platform in the tub itself that went up and down. So you had this raising and lowering platform in the tub. Okay.

    Troy Ratliff: Right, right. Yeah. It turned out this incredible and there’s stories about how that process went that are kind of comical looking back now that really painful when it happened. But anyway, we designed a trailer and had a trailer built and all aluminum trailer and I put this tub in it, and I noticed after just the first couple of, or maybe two or three days, I got home and I was just like, I sat down and I thought without realizing it, I thought, my goodness, my back doesn’t hurt anymore, just after really … So I don’t know the doctor you had on the chiropractor could probably answer this better, but I don’t know how long can you go before you have permanent something going on?

    Troy Ratliff: I still have issues with my lower back, but I’m almost 40 now and I’ve been doing this since 2003. I did spend a good, good long time doing it wrong. But it’s far better than I think it would’ve been. But yeah, any kind of making sure as much as you can that the tub is at a proper height comfortable for you, even having a bit of a kick plate for your feet so you can stand right up against the tub without having your feet out and then leaning in. Like standing straight up and down shoulder with the part that kind of thing. And then if you can have some sort of a platform I don’t know if there’s anything out there that’s motorized or whatever, but just for small dogs, I’ve seen people build PVC framed platforms that they can kind of pop in there that fit and it just to get them higher so you can scrub them down or whatever. And it also keeps their feet out of the water and makes where you can drive them faster without having to mess with all that.

    Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. And I know our friends over at forever stainless, they have a patented tray or patented platform that fits inside of their tubs, you just raise those small dogs up to more of that. Maybe not from the front lip level of the tub, but certainly a lot higher in the tub. We’ve all seen the hydraulic tubs and we’ve seen even built in tubs being built at different heights so if you’ve got multiple tubs in the brick and mortar type of facility, maybe you have different height tubs, or maybe you adjust the legs, but again, leaning over actually for the small dogs causes, I think increased anxiety for the smaller dogs, because now you’re having to come way over them. Not only just being taller than them, you’re wrapping your arms around them to try to rinse and the bathing and the rinsing consistencies are a challenge at that point.

    Joe Zuccarello: So, absolutely to your point, I don’t know how long you can go. Probably some people a lot longer, or maybe even some a lot shorter before they end up with major issues. So let’s move on to … Again, in the tub area, because it’s going to be a wet space, slips and falls. I can tell you that in my experience in my grooming facilities, slips and falls were the number one injury that my staff had. Slips and falls number one injury. Because we’re dealing with hair on the floor, moisture on the floor, and sometimes wet hair on the floor.

    Joe Zuccarello: To your point about the toe kick. One of the really cool things we did on the front of our tubs was if you can truly get close to your tub and your feet are under the tub, when that water goes down, the front end of that front face of that tub goes right in your shoes and then you’ve got wet shoes all day. We put a gutter system on the front lip of the tub so the water would get caught in the gutter system and it would shed off to the side to a floor drain. So it didn’t protect us completely because you still had to account for the water was running down the front of yourself into your shoe. But it did remove a lot of the water, but the slips and falls, there’s some solutions that you’d recommend for the tub area to help prevent against slips and falls.

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah. So just going back to the point of having a longer career with a raised platform for your back, what you’re standing on oftentimes are salons are built on concrete floors or even in my trailer, it’s an aluminum floor, there’s no sponginess or whatever to it at all and your shoes can only do so much. So I tried all kinds of anti fatigue mats, which are great. The best thing I’ve used so far is, and as far as being comfortable and consistent and actually being not sliding around in the wet location is the official, the real deal of pal mat that Chanel produces. And that is, I don’t know, I got them for the tabletop and I’m very selfish and I put one on the floor one time and the dogs don’t get to see it as often as they would like probably, but yeah, I’ve got two of those in my trailer.

    Troy Ratliff: So one is in front of the table and one is in front of the tub and they just don’t slip around like some other things that I’ve had in there. And I have in my trailer, we actually put a rubberized coated flooring, like a bed liner type floor but I did not add the grit that you might see in a truck bed, because I just imagined the hair would be all caught on that and never come up. So I wanted it as smooth as possible, but rubberized. But doing that sometimes if the wrong two materials come together with water, it’ll slide like ice. And I don’t know how she does it, but the pal mat really grips on that. So I recommend that, not sponsored or anything, I just think when you know what’s right, the right thing, the good thing is to go for it.

    Joe Zuccarello: And that’s what this podcast is. Obviously, the podcast is nice to introduce all types of solutions. Because again, this is a hard enough career that just, it’s the small things that if we do a lot of the small things better, it’s better for us, it’s better for the pets. And one of those areas is as we’re focusing on the tub, we talked about elevating the dog, we talked about the wet floors, we talked about the wet selves, right? Our selves, but securing the pet during the bath. And this is where for, for all of you out there in the Hey Joe listener audience, this is where Troy and I first met each other. I saw a device in the Alpha booth across from Paragon, at the Atlanta pet fair and I had to go over and see it for myself because the way that they were demonstrating this particular product was amazing to me.

    Joe Zuccarello: It was like they could hire a strong man to try to use this product, to try to how much can a dog abuse this particular solution. And I was just blown away from the very beginning. Let’s talk about before we happen to what that solution is, let’s talk about those securing the pet in a tub. Troy, I think you had mentioned to me that as good of a tub is, and there’s lots of choices for tubs. And there’s lots of great tubs out there. We’re not saying stainless over acrylic over a fiberglass over built in, over tile or what, that’s not where we’re going today because there’s probably a place for all of those, depending on budget and use and desire and fashion versus function, all of those things.

    Joe Zuccarello: But you said something to me when we first met that just resonated with me. And that’s when I knew I had to have you and introduce this product on air, was you said it that a lot of tubs come up short because there’s a million different variations for where a pet needs to be or how a pet needs to be secured in the tub. Sure, I’m not doing your statement very much justice, but that was sort of your lead in, right? You said there’s infinite choices for properly securing the dog, the pet in the bathtub, yes?

    Troy Ratliff: Right. Yeah, there’s bars and rings and all kinds of things.

    Joe Zuccarello: Where do they come up short?

    Troy Ratliff: For in my experience, I’ve used the trailer that we bought that was prefab and then I’ve done some of the vans, commercial vans or whatever, grooming vans, a few different models of those that I’ve worked in for either a long period or briefly. And then even in the grooming salons that I’ve worked at or visited or whatever, it seems that no matter how many rings these people put in, and I’ve seen some tubs that had 10 rings in it, just all over the place and I’d get a dog in there and I’d be like, are you kidding me? Like it’s still not where it needs to be.

    Troy Ratliff: You want the loop to be secure, but not tight and you want everything to be just like it would be on the table where you can adjust the arm for that need. You want it to be that way in the tub and oftentimes it’s not. So you’ll see on Instagram, people tie a big knot in a leash or something to try and adjust that. So yeah, there’s never a ring where you want ring when you’re trying to groom a dog.

    Joe Zuccarello: Well, that’s what we’ve got. We’ve got dogs that vary heights, varying widths.

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah, right.

    Joe Zuccarello: Vary in lengths. So this is sort of, this was ever changing need for ring placement. It’s the tether point for the loop to help hold that dog in the tub, to secure that dog safely, without being too restricted. It was the need for the infinite many positions of where we need this ring to appear. That was sort of the inspiration behind this product. And I know I’ve been kind of teasing everybody about it, but Troy and his company at Alpha, they created what I think is the most incredible suction cup. I’m sure I’m probably not even calling it the right thing, Troy, you’re going to have to clean up all my verbiage and make sure you can draw a picture of this for the listener audience out there.

    Joe Zuccarello: But we’ve all seen sort of a suction cup. We’ve seen it, it almost looks like one of those cheap red plungers for your toilet but with a ring on it. We’ve seen that solution out there, but I’m going to tell you that is like elementary school solution compared to what Alpha has created in this suction cup device, this tether point for the tub surface. Troy, tell us about this product.

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah. So I think way back when we started and we did the loop and then we did the bathtub and the bathtub came in, it had its issues with the design of it. We missed some things as far as what it really needed, but it came in and it was so pretty, it’s pretty as a stainless steel chunk of bathtub can be. And I told the guy that was helping me, his name is, Josh. He the one that was more engineer mind, but we were actually partners when we started, but he’s no longer with the company. But anyhow, I was telling him it came in and I said, “Man, I really, I hate the thought of putting rings all over this thing. It’s so nice.”

    Troy Ratliff: And so we started looking into different solutions there and the suction cup idea came out. And then as we started testing different suction cups, we realized that this is far better because now you can put a ring anywhere you want it. And so I tested several different options. And like even the one you were just talking about with that stuck it on the wall and had a ring, and what I found with most of them is if you could use it with the dog, it was a dog that didn’t need to be tied down anyway, because as soon as the dog fought it or whatever, it would just pop off or slide down the wall or whatever.

    Troy Ratliff: So we did that way back. It was probably, I don’t know, the year when we first released our first suction cup and we actually called it, the infinity tie down is what we called it. Because you could put it anywhere. And it went over pretty well at first. The cost difference is pretty major when you’re comparing it to the $5, little thing that you were talking about versus ours at $65, it kind of gives people pause understandably. But we did that and once we got farther down the road to a few years ago, we decided to go even farther and use our own design techniques and things to get it to where we are, want it now. So we redesigned the handle so that it’s more ergonomic once again, with dealing with it in the bathtub with a dog that’s jumping around or soapy hands or whatever needed a little more help on the gripping. And then we upgraded the rubber pad to it’s much more grippy now. So actually, a lot of times they’ll hold before you even clamp it, not securely, but it’ll stick-

    Joe Zuccarello: Oh, I know this. I put it on my dining table. I was-

    Troy Ratliff: I couldn’t get it all.

    Joe Zuccarello: … one of these so I could show people if I remember on camera or whatever, I just set it down on the table and I couldn’t hardly get it off the table. I mean, it was like and I didn’t even clamp it down yet. I mean, there’s own way that this is coming off. Once it’s properly secured, there’s no way this is coming off side of a tub wall. But it did once you know how to lift it. When you lift it and you break that seal, even with it not secured, when you break that seal, this thing can go anywhere, high, low, wherever, as long as it’s got a smooth surface, even a smooth wet surface, yes?

    Troy Ratliff: Well, it works best on a completely dry surface. And so we’ve tested it on a lot of different things. The best thing so far is stainless steel, like a dry stainless steel panel and with the rubber of the pad being dry and clean as well. And it doesn’t need anything real specific, I usually just spray it with water and scrub it real quick and then spray it off. And then if I’m working, I’ll just take the force dryer and blow the water off of everything real quick. And then it re makes really solid connection. I know a lot of suction cups, they work better if there’s a little moisture, but not these, they slide around if there’s moisture underneath of them. So it odds if you have a suction cut one of our cups and it’s moving around a lot, then it’s, it probably got moisture hair, something has gotten on the pad and it’s going to let it move around a lot.

    Joe Zuccarello: Again, if the surface is something that is smooth, we can get it to dry really quick. Even if we’ve got a handy, we can wipe it down again and it stuck. So it was on my dining table, my dining table’s a Hickory top table. I mean, it’s not even completely smooth. Like this wood green feel to it and it still wanted to [inaudible 00:27:40] grab on that.

    Troy Ratliff: We sold a bunch to a self wash kind of deal in Lexington, Kentucky. And it was a real nice little place and they had little stations set up, like, I don’t know, 10 or 12 stations set up around. And they had the tub and then next to the tub was a platform that was just a solid, almost like a countertop. And then that went straight into a wall. And then on the wall, they had like this cartoony dog stuff painted, and somebody put a lot of effort and time into it.

    Troy Ratliff: And I went there, just we had met who knows where through the school or something. And then I went there to just check in to see if they need anything. So they got these suction cups and they said, will these suction to the the drywall? And I said, yeah. I mean, I think they will, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it because it’s going to, that painting, you don’t want to mess that up. And so anyway, a couple months later, I got a call from them just to let me know that they did. And there was a German shepherd or something that decided he wanted off the table and he took a piece of the drywall with him and then stuck to it.

    Joe Zuccarello: He was still connected to the tether point, to the suction cup, but the suction cup took the wall. That was the-

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah. It took a part of the wall. Yeah. Yeah.

    Joe Zuccarello: I can see that coming.

    Troy Ratliff: So yeah. So you can apparently use it for demolition if you’re into remodeling or something, but yeah, that’s what we always tell people. It’s kind of a joke, but kind of not like, ah, yes, it will stick most of the time it’ll stick to drywall paint but it will probably curl the paint if you put it on there. And I wouldn’t recommend putting it straight on drywall, but ever any solid, smooth surfaces.

    Joe Zuccarello: When I’m describing this I say when you see these guys carrying these big pieces of glass with these suction cups, that’s what it reminds me of. It reminds me of these guys, they’ve got their lives in the hands of these, these plastic top handles carrying these big pieces of play glass, the listener audience out there needs to know, that’s what it reminds me of. It almost even looks like that, but it’s got this hook on there for a loop that can then can be connected and holding the pet safely. So I want to give just a couple minutes real quick, Troy, we’re starting to wrap up our time together.

    Joe Zuccarello: Obviously, you’re going to be able to find all the, Hey Joe listener audience out there, you’re going to be able to find all the Alpha grooming’s product information on the Paragonpetschool.com website. You can go there, you can link directly in to these product pages and such. But before we do that, let’s move just real quickly, just away from the tub, for just a moment. Because a lot of the things that the adjustability or the height of the dog, the securing the dog in one spot, so we can work on the dog, the anti fatigue mats, the gear that we have around us, there’s so much that parallels to grooming station as well.

    Joe Zuccarello: So table sider, or having to deal with the table as a bonus, what is it that Alpha provides that helps the grooming station be more clean and secure the grooming equipment, clean and secure, but also the dogs. So you’ve got loops, but you’ve also got this really cool mat with mag that’s in it?

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah. We brought that out last year. Was it last year? Yeah, last year at Atlanta PEPFAR in June, that was the first release for those. And so we basically, we designed those with a little bit thicker rubber than what was already available in the barber industry. And then I made the magnet stronger because our clippers are heavier generally than the little tiny beard trimmers and things like that were out there. So that actually turned out really cool and it’s been helpful for me just in the trailer. We designed the trailer so that everything is within arms reach as possible from one spot. So we’re not moving all over the place and jumping around. And when we were studying that concept of workflow, just in general through, I don’t know, the hospital or whatever, there’s people that literally their job is to literally count steps between one station to another and try to figure out how to reduce that.

    Troy Ratliff: And so we just kind of took that and implemented it in. So anything that I can do that reduces my steps, so to speak, even though it’s one or two steps back and forth, if you do that all day, all week, all month, all year, that’s a whole bunch of steps. And I know you say I saved a minute, or I saved 45 seconds times that by 15 dogs or 100 dogs, that’s a lot of time that you get to I don’t know, eat lunch or something.

    Joe Zuccarello: Get that time back, or you put in another dog in that spot. I mean, depends on the flavor of what you want to use your time for, right?

    Troy Ratliff: Right, right. So yeah, the magnet mats came just to kind of help with organization and keeping things in arms reach without necessarily having to open and close a drawer 400 times because if you’re doing a big bunch of hairy dog, you don’t want to get in the drawer. So we did the large mat, and then it was kind of funny as it’s how it goes, but it was something that most people had never seen before. Suddenly we bring it out and then in five minutes, people are asking if we can modify it, change it, make it smaller. You know what I mean? And so this is all these things because what’s difficult in designing these products is my experience on like firsthand experiences where I work specifically. And so sometimes it’s difficult to imagine a multitude of different options for people.

    Troy Ratliff: And then also trying you can’t carry 400 options of variations of something. So we did literally at the show, because I kind of got that. A lot of people were asking for a smaller mat and I was like, that is going to be pretty cool, I think I should do that. And so while I was at the show, I contacted the manufacturer and got that started so that it was, we had a design and a prototype being produced while we were in Atlanta.

    Joe Zuccarello: Wow, that’s outstanding.

    Troy Ratliff: So we really jumped on that and thank I was able to get those pretty quickly. And I think we released those, the mini mat in Hershey, I think last year. So anyway, so the mini mat is smaller, it’s about a quarter or so of the size of the large one. And what I do is put the mini mat on the table so I can put whatever blades I’m using or the clippers or scissors or nail trimmers or whatever right there. And it’s all easy to grab and then I move it back to the drawer or whatever.

    Joe Zuccarello: That’s smart.

    Troy Ratliff: Yeah. And I did have a few times at first, I wasn’t 100% confident in the magnets as far as things not flying all over the place while I was driving, but I did have a couple of times where I forgot to put everything away, get back in the trailer and see that it’s all standing just right where I left it, which I was like, oh, okay, awesome. So it’s very strong.

    Troy Ratliff: There’s a lot of people that ask if you could put them on the wall. Yeah, you totally can, but in a mobile situation, I would not leave any tools on them if you hang them on the wall, just because the bouncing and you just never know. But yeah, if you were stationary and you had a wall close by then get some two sided tape and slap it through the wall and send me pictures when you’re done doing that because I think that’s cool idea. So that’s just another one of our products that’s turned out to be really cool and helpful. So, that’s what we want. We want to do things that are truly helpful, well made, so that you’re happy that you have it, not just another thing.

    Troy Ratliff: I’ve used the example that so often you’ll see a product that they offer points A, B and C, but point B is the really big selling point. But then they produce this thing and it turns out that point B doesn’t really do what they thought it doesn’t really exist, but they still, it looks like it will. So they’ll market it that way. And then you get it and you’re like, well this is garbage, but they don’t care, they just got to sale. And so we’ve, said from the beginning, if I come up with any idea that I have point A, B and C and point B being the big seller, if it doesn’t perform, then I’m not going to continue with it.

    Troy Ratliff: So that’s what we, the cool thing about our model is I’m still professionally grooming daily, weekly, full time on top of doing Alpha. So I test everything in real time. It’s not just, I have an idea and I’m going to send it out to 10 groomers, which we do have some groomers on that we trust and to give us an honest opinion about things. And they’re great as far as giving me different ideas that I might not be able to see, just because like I said, I’m in one spot, so it’s hard to get all.

    Joe Zuccarello: One thing that I know for sure is that, and again, I said it earlier and it was unsolicited because when I got the products shipped to my home and I opened them up, you can feel the difference. And for the listeners out there, you’re going to have to trust me on this, order one of the products, you’re going to want more of them. So on Paragonpetschool.com, Troy is going to provide all of his contact information. We’re going to have special links. We’re going to have all kinds of different information available for you. So again, that’s the place go to Paragonpetschool.com and we will make sure that you have everything possible so that you can get your hands on these incredible products from Alpha. And Troy, I hope you’d agree to be a guest again on the podcast. And we can highlight some other areas of safety, areas of efficiency improvements, and area of just making a grooms life better. Right? So, that they can be better groomers.

    Joe Zuccarello: Because again, we want groomers grooming for as long as we possibly can. This your one injury, one slip, one fall, one bite away from the end of your career, let’s try to minimize that risk as much as possible. And Alpha’s out there helping you do that. So Troy, thank you again for being a guest on the Hey Joe podcast. I really appreciate it. And I know the listeners out there will benefit from it.

    Troy Ratliff: Awesome. I really appreciate you having me on and yeah, hope we can do this again. And stay tuned, follow us on Instagram. There’s there’s new things down the way that are in production right now and testing and all that, so it’s really exciting.

    Joe Zuccarello: You’re going to have an increased fan base, I can guarantee it. So, that’s awesome. Thanks Troy, appreciate it. Take care.

    Troy Ratliff: You too.

    About Joe

    Joe Zuccarello is president of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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