LESTER PRAIRIE, Minn. — Business partners Cindy Ardolf and Nicholas Buytaert are celebrating the one-year anniversary this fall of opening their business, Back Forty Kennel dog boarding, with help from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program.
A love of dogs brought Ardolf and Buytaert together: Buytaert owns a mastiff and a lab mix. Ardolf has a mastiff, pug, golden retriever and lab mix. Their kennel is located near Lester Prairie on 40 acres owned by Ardolf.
“We offer a boarding experience that is more like being at home – private kennels, a large outdoor area to run, personal playtime, unlimited couch time and friends to play,” Buytaert said, adding there is a 30,000-square-foot dog park for the dogs to run.
Ardolf is the business manager and handles advertising, marketing and office functions. She’s also currently employed at 3M. Buytaert handles all day-to-day kennel operations in addition to a position with Haukos Bros. farm equipment dealership in Glencoe.
Back Forty has climate-controlled indoor kennels, several large outdoor kennels and privacy panels to avoid fighting and calm anxious dogs. Calming music is played, and all kennels are cleaned daily. Limiting dogs’ time in small kennels is the main goal; after evaluation they are placed with like dogs to play and run free. TV time is always available and couch time encouraged.
“Our first year has been exciting and full of surprises,” Ardolf said. “Reservations were filling fast when the pandemic hit. Like other business, ours stopped and everything was cancelled. We have had time to improve on the kennel and are now in full swing operation again.”
The loan funds from SWIF helped purchase computer equipment for Back Forty Kennel.
“Back Forty Kennel is a great business to bring to the area, and we’re proud to support Cindy and Nich as small business owners,” said SWIF Economic Development Officer Jackie Turner.
Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and financials analysis, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $88 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.