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Engineer goes from AC design to picking up poop

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Brad Luther started his own pet waste removal company, Tidy Paws, about four years ago.
Brad Luther never thought he would be picking up dog poop for a living.

But that is exactly what this former mechanical engineer decided to do after leaving his job at Whirlpool.

“I saw it was a viable business,” Luther said, besides he likes dogs.

Luther operates Tidy Paws, a Murfreesboro-based pet waste removal company. Luther will pick up waste from Murfreesboro to Franklin and parts of Nashville. You can reach him at 1-800-Dog Poop.

Additionally, Tidy Paws is a distributor for Nature Select dog food and pet waste stations.

Luther looked into starting a part-time business while working at Whirlpool. He knew that production was slowing and he could lose his job in the next few years. Luther looked for something unique, and at the time he didn’t have any competition.

“It fit all my criteria,” Luther said. “I could do it part time and not much start-up costs.”

Luther took the leap and took the business full time in February 2008. Whirlpool stopped production in August of last year.

Now, Luther likes the freedom of his job and being outdoors.

He thinks he must have been born with an entrepreneurial spirit or he would have never taken the leap into dog poop.

As a kid Luther did make money mowing lawns and painting houses.

“Picking up the pet waste itself is not enjoyable,” Luther admitted, “but it is different than what I have been doing.”

It is a vast change from designing room air conditioners, which Luther did call “really fun.”

So what was Luther’s motivation?

Four years later, he isn’t really sure.

“I like the running of the business part of it,” Luther said, adding later “they call it work for a reason.”

But he does like being his own boss and calling all the shots.

“At the time there was no one else doing it,” Luther said, adding that now at least two national franchise pet waste removal companies have moved into the area.

And, he was looking for something that his sons, Nathan and Joseph, could help him in.

Picking up dog poop is not something he plans on doing for the short term. He plans to continue to grow the business and eventually have employees.

“Right now, I am 75 percent where I want to be,” Luther said.

He also is working on ways to recycle the waste into a renewable energy source or to turn the waste into mulch using a methane digester.

Luther advises anyone thinking about starting their own business to do their research first.

“Start off small and make your business pay for itself,” he said, not recommending going into debt to start a small business unless it is absolutely necessary.

Networking and doing anything you can to get your name out to the public also is vital, Luther said. Having a Web site also is a necessity.

“It is not as hard as you think to start a business,” he said, adding that obtaining the appropriate licenses, insurance and paying taxes isn’t that hard to learn.

And with Luther’s business, he said he isn’t “scared about what people think” even as family members have laughed at him for starting a pet waste removal company.

“I see it as an opportunity to build a business,” he said.

Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at eedgemon@murfreesboropost.com.

Tidy Paws

1-800-Dog Poop


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