Heidi Ganahl is the founder and CEO of Camp Bow Wow, the largest pet care franchise in North America. Through her personal and professional tragedies, from the loss of her young husband to losing a million dollar insurance settlement, Ganahl has faced extraordinary adversity. She responded by turning her life-long passion for dogs into Camp Bow Wow, and created the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives and health of dogs.
Ganahl and her first husband Bion conceived the idea of starting a doggy day and overnight care business born out of their love for dogs and the need for a market alternative to the bleak conditions of the traditional kennel environment. Unfortunately, shortly after Heidi and Bion finished developing the Camp Bow Wow business plan, Bion was killed in a tragic plane crash, while in an open cockpit stunt plane for his 25th birthday.
The untimely death had a paralyzing effect on Heidi and sent her into a downward spiral – albeit temporary. She then lost almost the entire $1 million settlement from Bion’s crash in unreturned loans to friends and family, a series of bad investments, and the failure of two start-up businesses. Finally, in 2000, as a single mom with only $83,000 of the dwindling settlement left, Heidi was encouraged by her brother to take a leap of faith and start Camp Bow Wow. She invested the last of her savings and opened the first camp in Denver in the Fall of 2000. In 2003 Ganahl started franchising the concept and has sold over 200 franchises! Today, Camp Bow Wow is one of the largest woman-led franchise companies, one of the largest and fastest growing brands in the pet industry, the largest pet care company in the world and a $100 million leader in the $60 billion United States pet sector.
Heidi recently sold Camp Bow Wow to VCA, a leader in the pet care industry, but will continue in her role as CEO. She was recently featured in Fortune magazine, and was a recipient of the 10 Most Promising Entrepreneurs at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. Heidi was also featured on the cover of the April 2015 Franchise Times.
Outside of leading Camp Bow Wow, Heidi is passionate about giving back. She is a Director on the Foundation Board for the University of Colorado, she is on the advisory board of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, a Director on the Board of Colorado Succeeds, she leads Moms Fight Back (her nonprofit empowering moms to make social change and become important players in Colorado) and is head of the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, Camp Bow Wow’s 501c3 focused on lending a paw to animals in need.
Heidi is married to Jason, one of the top competitive BBQ cooks in the country, www.gquebbq.com, and is the proud mom of Tori, Hollie and toddler twins, Jack and Jenna.