ny Zeus and Co. Lemonis realized that Levy’s wealth of knowledge and competence in the pet
world would dovetail nicely with
his own expertise.
The episode featuring Bentley’s aired in fall 2015, and Lemonis committed his business
acumen, along with $1.7 million
in two separate checks, to the Senafes’ vision. The majority of that
amount would be used to fund acquisitions and store conversions,
with $400,000 earmarked to provide sufficient working capital for
Bentley’s and 25 percent equity
to Lemonis. The two checks combined brought Lemonis’ equity to
40 percent; however, as the $1.3
million is repaid, that percentage
will drop to 25 percent.
Lemonis’ expertise, inspiration and financial support provided just what the couple needed to see that their dreams could
be within their reach.
REFLECTING ON THE PAST
Lisa and Giovanni met and married while employed in the mortgage industry, eventually owning
their own business. However,
Lisa, a lifelong animal lover, envisioned sharing her passion for
pet nutrition with others. In 2007,
plans were in the works to turn
that dream into reality with the
opening of a pet supply store.
“My goal was to focus on nutrition, offering a broad selection
of natural, healthful food and
treats, along with a variety of supplies,” Lisa said.
The launch of Bentley’s Corner
Barkery in early 2008 in Arlington
Heights, Ill., coincided with the
onset of an epic recession.
Initial plans included offering high-end, boutique-type pet
supplies, but the economic slowdown halted demand for these
items, resulting in a stronger
emphasis placed on natural pet
foods and supplies.
“Lisa shifted the model of our
store without hesitation—peo-
ple are always going to buy pet
food,” Giovanni said.
It proved to be a sound strate-
gy. In 2011, the 1,000-square-foot
store expanded into an adjacent
space, adding 600 square feet.
“That was the turning point;
we felt we had our feet on the
ground,” Lisa said.
But more was to come. Bent-
ley’s had grown to four stores by
October 2014 when Levy stepped
in to invest.
The Senafes set their sights on
becoming “the” pet supply busi-
ness across Chicagoland. How-
ever, aggressive expansion was
outpacing the framework of the
business. It was at this point that
Lemonis stepped into their lives.
Lemonis’ first focused on building company infrastructure,
updating software and POS systems and hiring management
personnel to handle day-to-day
operations. Temporary offices
for the leadership team were es-
THE KEY TO BENTLEY’S SUCCESS
Good inventory management has been the secret to growth and has allowed Bentley’s
Pet Stuff to maintain its standards on the quality of product it sells, said Giovanni
Senafe, vice president of business development.
“It’s a learning curve for anyone who is not in the business to understand that
a lower-priced item is not always the right answer,” he said. “We have found that
our high standards build more equity with customers than focusing on short-term
revenue. We have been able to grow the stores by getting the inventory management part right. We are getting product faster into the smaller stores that are
doing higher volume. We don’t need to offer Purina to increase sales—we just
need to fill our shelves faster in response to demand.”
AT A GLANCE
Management: Giovanni Senafe, vice
president of business development;
Lisa Senafe, founder and CEO; Marcus
Lemonis, investor; David Levy, investor
Number of stores: 32
Average square feet: 1,900
Employees: approximately 75 full
time, 19 part time
Years in business: 8
Products and services: Snack Wagons, Yappy Hours
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