In 1988, Jeff Gonda was working as an electronic collar repair technician in Arizona for his father, the original owner of Tri-Tronics. Jeff decided there was a need for an e-collar repair business with a faster turn-around time and with a more central location for quicker shipping. So he moved to Traverse City, Michigan, where he opened up the Collar Clinic.
The business quickly grew by offering repair service for nearly all brands of e-collars on the market at that time. "These early e-collars were big, heavy and bulky, and though they looked sturdy and durable, they had very delicate electronic components that often failed. This was a great business opportunity," Jeff recalls.
Early on the Clinic added reconditioned collars for sale with guaranteed reliability. And soon thereafter they added a variety of new e-collars for sale. "We fixed and sold all brands of e-collars then added the option of taking old collars as trade-ins for new collars and refurbished those collars to be sold at discounted prices," Jeff explains.
Now offered in the product line are all the most popular models of new e-collars, a wide selection of discount rebuilt e-collars, bark control trainers, remote training dummy launchers and live training bird launchers, plus beeper/location devices. Also included are a wide selection of GPS collars and radio telemetry units for finding all types of hunting dogs in the field.
Electronic invisible fences are also in stock. And for dog owners who wish to train without direct electrical stimulation, there are some models of "vibration-only" remote training collars. "We have the most complete product line and repair service of any electronic dog training retailer in the world," Jeff says.
"Customer satisfaction is the key to success in any business — everyone knows that," says Kathy Borock, head of marketing for Collar Clinic. "We try to satisfy our customers' needs for a wide range of services beginning with our original e-collar repair program where we try to refurbish and fix older style remote trainers that dog owners like because they are accustomed to them.
"That's why we have in stock a wide variety of parts for maintaining most all the major e-collars that often can no longer be repaired by the original manufacturers."
This is also the reason Collar Clinic has an e-collar trade-in program in which customers with out-of-date e-collars can trade them in on new models. "Though the trade-ins are good for a few dollars toward the purchase of a new product, this is better than throwing away an out-of-production e-collar from which we can salvage parts for our repair department," Borock says. "This is a unique offer in the e-collar business, and is very popular with our customers.
"In the past 25 years, we at Collar Clinic have seen the e-collar undergo some major improvements from the crude 'shocking' system with high-intensity power settings to the more sophisticated and sensitive remote-training device with a vast selection of stimulation settings," Borock notes.
The modern e-collar can now be easily adjusted to deliver a gentle electric "nudge" to enforce a dog's trained behavior such as coming when called, whoaing on command, or being quiet when told. Likewise, the modern e-collar can be precisely calibrated to produce a more powerful jolt to control a dog's often dangerous impulsive behavior such as chasing deer, confronting poisonous snakes or fighting porcupines.
"These advancements in e-collar technology have been incorporated into our repair and sales programs at the Collar Clinic," Borock says. "Because of the improvement, the modern e-collar is now seen as a more broadly effective, more humane and much more popular training tool.
"Though most of our customers are hunters, professional dog trainers and hunting guides, there is a big growth in the number of 'companion pet dog' owners who are choosing and using an e-collar as a humane way to gently train their dogs and to better control canine behavior in the house and in the yard. This demographic will be a huge growth potential for anyone in the e-collar business in general," Borock adds, "and for Collar Clinic in particular."
All service work at Collar Clinic has always been done on a flat rate basis, which includes a three- to five-day turn around. Repair on older model e-collars is time consuming and labor intensive because the metal housings need to be opened, all solder connections must be checked and all diodes, capacitors and circuits are tested and replaced if necessary. For anyone who needs a quicker repair on a favorite e-collar, a faster fix and express return to the customer is available for a few extra dollars.
Call (800-430-2010) or email a technician at Collar Clinic for information on repairing an e-collar or any other electrical device for training or controlling any breed of canine. "Collar Clinic sales staff all have a personal knowledge of all products for sale and can help customers choose the right gear for their dogs particular requirements," Borock says.