EarthWise Franchise Review: Daniel Crisologo of Marysville, WA
With his own growing ‘wolf pack,’ Daniel sees opportunity for a secure retirement by investing in multiple EarthWise franchises.
Daniel Crisologo is living someone’s dream life lately. He’s a full-time finance executive for a major department store. He’s been on a trip to Africa to help with wildlife conservation, followed by a photo safari with his husband. He makes bean-to-bar chocolate in his spare time. And, he recently celebrated his first year in business as an EarthWise Pet franchisee. He and his husband, Ray, just closed on what will be their second EarthWise location in nearby Fremont, a suburb of Seattle about 30 miles from Marysville. Daniel talks about his journey in this EarthWise franchise review.
The story really begins, Daniel says, with the couple’s love of animals. And a pretty instant connection with EarthWise Pet Supply franchise owner Mike Seitz, whose family started this business over 40 years ago.
“He’s my friend and mentor now,” Daniel says of Seitz. “I absolutely cherish his friendship and mentorship.”
Ray, a music teacher and church administrator, was a stay-at-home dad to the couple’s 13-year-old son, Galvin. The family moved a couple of times before landing in Seattle, along with, of course, their beloved pets. Today’s full complement includes bearded dragon Berry Ellen, retired seeing eye dog Yaya, kitty Holly and dogs Bella, Niko, Milo and Annabel.
Before signing their franchise agreement in 2018, Daniel spent a month in Namibia, volunteering his efforts to help save the rare desert elephant. “It was like my vision quest,” he says. One of the wildlife conservation workers told him the word for “thank you” in a local tribal dialect — nkomo — and that was the name Daniel and Ray gave to the C-corporation they formed.
It is the official owner of the couple’s EarthWise franchises. The name holds special meaning to the Crisologos because it embodies the gratitude behind a simple thank-you; expressing that gratitude whenever possible is important to them both.
“When I retire, I want to open a chocolate shop and it would be called Nkomo Cocoa — “Thank-you Chocolate.” We just got a jump on it with the C-corp and called it Nkomo Corp. We’re certainly thankful for being able to stay open since COVID. We’re grateful we’re still here, and we’re grateful that now we’re opening this second business.”
The pair signed their agreement in 2018, held a soft opening of their Marysville store in October 2019 followed by a grand opening that December — and then in March 2020, COVID hit.
Daniel is planning to keep his full-time job with Nordstrom, where he’s responsible for payments and processing across the company, while Ray, a music teacher and church administrator who most recently was a stay-at-home dad, will continue to be more hands-on.
“I’m more like the strategic financial person for our franchise, and then I provide some coaching to the management team. Ray does operations, the setting up and managing the distributors, and he’s also our creative genius.”
Their strongest link
A crisis like COVID puts any business through its paces, and Marysville EarthWise is no exception. But thanks to a very strong and dedicated team of employees, Daniel says they’ve been able to pull through and are growing again. He’s counting on that passion and commitment to get their second franchise location launched as well.
Daniel and Ray invested in a mobile grooming van in November, becoming among the first franchisees in the EarthWise system to do so, and they’re looking forward to offering mobile grooming in a 20-mile radius around their Marysville store. The grooming van will add an additional stream of revenue to their growing business, another perk Daniel attributes to great teamwork.
“I’m super proud of the team that we have,” he says. We just have a wonderful group of groomers, and for our store manager, this is her passion. It’s very rare. So, we’re definitely blessed in the fact that people were put in our path at the time that we needed. Not everybody is that lucky.
“We survived because of our current team. We’ll thrive because of our new team.”
The wolf pack
A lot of people find signs along the way that point to a new chapter in their lives. For Daniel and Ray Crisologo, it was probably the wolf.
When the couple adopted their 13-year-old son, Galvin, he was only 8. The little boy told his new dads he’d been raised by wolves and asked them what their spirit animals were. Ray identified with a panda. Daniel chose the elephant. And Galvin, without hesitation, said his spirit animal was a gray wolf.
“Now, he is being raised by wolves,” Daniel says. “He literally has a pack around him. He has his own dog (Nico) we got for him immediately, because we saw how everywhere we went he had to touch every dog he saw.”
And although he’s young, Galvin is very responsible with his pack of pets, taking care of all of them every day without being asked or prompted. “We never have to worry about whether the animals have been fed,” Daniel says. “It’s his thing.”
So when Daniel came across EarthWise as they were looking for a franchise to invest in, there it was: the wolf, right there in the EarthWise logo. The logo wasn’t the reason they chose EarthWise, of course, but it was a good omen.
“We picked EarthWise Pet because every time we would go anywhere else, you would ask people about the best thing for your dog and nobody could tell you. It was all misinformation or no information at all. And it just got frustrating, even at Petco’s or small places, everyone was the same,” says Daniel.
EarthWise Pet stood out because of the hundreds of hours of training on nutrition for the owners and staff alike. That customer intimacy, along with premium all-natural lines of pet food and products, helps EarthWise stand out from the competition.
He and Ray had been talking about coming up with a solid retirement strategy that they could start building now. “So I took my little retirement fund and I created the C-Corp through guidance, put everything we had into this business and we picked… Everything’s on the line, the house, our life insurance, everything. Every penny I’d ever saved went into this franchise business.”
It’s a risk they were willing to take, partly because of EarthWise Pet’s uniqueness as a franchise and partly because of CEO Mike Seitz. “After meeting him, we were just like, ‘All right, it’s a no-brainer.’ We love Mike. You could just tell he was very open and honest,” Daniel says. “I’ve certainly dealt with plenty of CEOs of companies before. Mike is a guy who answers Slacks, texts, phone calls.
“He’s available 24 hours and he’s passionate about what he does. He’s like the company’s North Star. He’s just an amazing individual. I’m proud to call him a friend and mentor. I text him for all sorts of things. And I think he’s entrusted me to do some things like the mobile grooming.”
It helps that the pet care industry is still booming, despite everything. “I did the research,” says Daniel. “I lived through the recession. I did a lot of research on how the pet industry grew 80% when everybody else was shrinking. I know it’s a profitable business. Everybody’s got pets, and the way people treat their pets is different now. I mean, my dog has more clothes than I do.”
The couple’s goal is to open at least four EarthWise Pet franchises.
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