Joe Shown began his K-9 Kondo business on a bar napkin in a beer joint close to his hometown of Stapleton, Nebraska, more than 25 years ago.
"A friend of mine and I were discussing our need for a better door for our doghouses. So, on a napkin, I sketched what I thought would be a big improvement on the fabric flaps our dogs had been chewing to shreds," Shown recollects. "I decided that the best material for a dog house door should be thin steel plate to resist dog teeth.
"A galvanized waterproof coating would be added for rust-resistance. The door should quietly swing in and out for easy entry and exit. And a one-size-fits-all design would be used so it could be put on the end of a 55-gallon plastic barrel as an inexpensive, easy-to-find, weather-resistant dog home."
The doodle on the bar napkin soon was made into a formal blueprint which was the working plan for the original "K-9 Kondo Kit." The kit included a K-9 Kondo door and a plastic platform base to hold the 55-gallon barrel in a stable ground-mounted position. A lounging "platform" perch attached to the top of the barrel was part of the kit.
"The K-9 Kondo Kit was an immediate best seller and really put our company on the map with sales doubling every month. The product was soon being shipped to all 50 states, all of Canada, and several foreign countries," Shown says. "Though we started out supplying plastic 55-gallon barrels as part of the kit package, we soon discovered that shipping costs were too high to justify sending the barrel by FedEx or UPS. So, we suggested that customers buy the barrels locally for a few dollars and avoid the expense of shipping."
Customers found the K-9 Kondo Kit to be lightweight, compact, portable, easy to construct, easy to clean, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, very durable and most important, chew-proof. "We got very good reviews from everyone who used the K-9 Kondo Kit," Shown says.
THE "DOG DEN"
A second major product at K-9 Kondo is the "Dog Den," which Shown designed and manufactured in 1998 as "the best doghouse on the market."
"The design and development of the 'K-9 Kondo Dog Den' began when a guy from Annapolis, Maryland, called to order a K-9 Kondo door for a fancy all-wood doghouse he was building for his nine-month-old Chesapeake retriever. A few weeks after he got the door, he sent me a picture of the doghouse with a shingled roof and wood siding, all of which matched the house he lived in," Shown says, "I was impressed with the picture because the K-9 Kondo door looked so good in it."
Then three weeks later another picture was sent showing the doghouse ripped to shreds by the teeth and toenails of a dog. "All the shingles were gone and the wooden walls were in a pile of torn up lumber. The only thing left in one piece was the K-9 Kondo door," Shown recalls.
"This was good advertising for the durability of the door, but more important, this all got me thinking about making a doghouse as tough as the door." Beginning with some sketches, Shown soon had a blue print for his K-9 Kondo Dog Den.
Fabricated from galvanized steel plate and plastic sheets, the Dog Den, which comes in three configurations and two sizes, is guaranteed chew-proof and is warranted as rust-resistant. Fully insulated in the floor, walls, and top, the Dog Den 1, 2 and 3 can be shipped 90 percent assembled or sent as a kit which the customer can construct in under two hours using simple tools. Detailed instructions for assembly are included in a DVD that comes with each K-9 Kondo Dog Den and assembly instructions are available on the K-9 Kondo website.
"The Dog Den 1, 2, and 3 have become our most popular doghouse, though we still sell lots of K-9 Kondo Kits that use a plastic 55 gallon barrel as the doghouse," Shown says. The Dog Den can be used as an outdoor or inside doghouse that is portable, easy-to-clean (the top pops off for full access to the inner compartment), and naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
"For those dog owners in extremely cold winter climates, a high-efficiency electric furnace is a popular option," Shown adds.
CLOSE TO HOME
One big advantage for Shown and his customers is the location of the K-9 Kondo manufacturing site.
"Our shop is about 50 steps from our house, so I don't have to walk very far to build our products or to let any prospective buyers know what we have in stock when an order is called in," Shown says, "And at night, the business phone is switched over to our home, which means we're available to our customers from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day."
Anyone interested in K-9 Kondo dog doors, barrel kits or dog dens is encouraged to first look at the K-9Kondo.com website for information on all K-9 Kondo products. Any questions about K-9 Kondo products are personally answered by Shown with an e-mail to: K-9Kondo.com or a phone call to: 1-800-779-3546 or 308-532-4551.
"I prefer phone calls so I can talk person-to-person with our customers to answer questions and give facts about everything we sell," Shown emphasizes. Orders placed by noon will be shipped the same day. All K-9 Kondo products are American made from materials fabricated in the U.S.A.
All K-9 Kondo products also have a limited warranty, which Shown says, "is seldom used because we build our dog doors and doghouses right in the first place.
"All K-9 Kondo products are designed and constructed based on our own personal needs for doghouse doors and doghouses.
"We have personally tested everything we sell."