Dolan’s grows on 18th Ave. NW

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2001

"The whole concept is outdoor living," Brian Dolan said of his recently relocated business, Dolan’s Landscape and Spas.

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

"The whole concept is outdoor living," Brian Dolan said of his recently relocated business, Dolan’s Landscape and Spas.

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Dolan decided to move the business from its old location on Oakland Avenue East to its new site on 18th Avenue NW because of a need for more room and parking. The new building stands on the site of a former rural residence. The old building now stands behind the new, a reminder of the beginnings of this growing business. Dolan moved to make way for Chauncey Apartments, so the city’s need joined with Dolan’s need to expand and came at just the right time.

Dolan was born and raised in Austin, and graduated from Austin High School. He and wife Kathleen, who have been married for 18 years, have three boys, Christopher, Aaron and Justin. And then there is the cat named Rube, who joined the family and the business by jumping through a window one day at the old location. Rube now spends his days running around the building at the new location.

Brian and Kathleen met after college through a co-worker of Dolan’s, who was married to Kathleen’s sister. Dolan’s father was born in Austin and his mother was born in Osage, Iowa. Kathleen, formerly a Quinn, was born in Riceville, Iowa.

After working summers during high school at Ramsey Golf Course, Dolan decided he wanted to major in groundskeeping. That major was offered at the University of Minnesota at Waseca and in East Lansing, Mich. He chose Waseca.

"When I got there, I discovered how broad the green industry is," he said. "I realized I might get bored on a golf course and decided I wanted to be way more diversified."

Classes for his new major – horticulture – focused on a variety of subjects, including landscape design and grounds management. After graduating he worked for a family lawn service business in Faribault.

He spent time at Milo Mack Garden Center in Austin – taking snow removal jobs in his free time – before striking out on his own with lawn maintenance and small landscaping projects.

Dolan opened Dolan’s Trimscape, a full-time venture, in 1984. In the early 1990s, he added spas to the business. Dolan’s company was at the former location for 10 years, from 1990 to 2000.

He employs both full-time and part-time employees. Off and on, a total of 25 to 30 people work for him. Kathleen, Dolan’s wife, keeps the payroll records for the business.

Current employees include Jess Dunlap, Melanie Janssen, Darren Finley, Brenda Orcutt and Tim Halderson. Finley is the business’ spot-technician. He travels to residences and services the spas as needed. Several high school students and college students work for Dolan’s as well, during school and summer breaks.

Dolan’s offers nearly 20 models of spas. A sale starts by focusing on the needs of the client, and where the spa will be located. Dolan’s staff then discusses the client’s budget. When the spa decision was made, they deliver it and set it up. The only part of the installation they cannot do is the electrical, which must be done by a licensed electrician.

Each of the 50 to 60 spas Dolan’s sells every year is self-contained, with a water management system and hose ozinator built in. A hose ozinator creates ozone to kill the bacteria. In addition, Dolan’s offers a silver option, which offers an almost chemical-free sanitizer. The company also works with clients’ chemical sensitivities, so the spa becomes a welcome addition to each home.

At no charge, Dolan’s offers computerized water analysis for pools and spas.

One unique feature of the new location in a "test soak room," where customers can change into bathing suits (in a changing room) and try out a new spa in private, before making a final decision.

"It’s more of a project than a product," Dolan said of the steps that go into each spa sale. He has sold spas to clients in Faribault, Mankato, St. Peter and Clear Lake, Iowa.

Dolan presents his products at trade shows, including the Owatonna Spring and Home Show and the Austin Home and Vacation Show.

As the company’s name implies, Dolan’s is a dual business – offering a full-service garden center on the west side of the building, while the spas are housed on the east side of the same facility. Pool covers, hoses and chemicals are located on one side, while garden seed starters, sandals, globes and stands are on the other side.

Plus, the business offers Burts Bees products, natural, earth-friendly personal care products made from herbs, flowers, botanical oils, beeswax, essential oils and clay.

Since moving the business, Dolan has also enlarged the greenhouse and reports the Christmas tree sales were "fantastic" this year, helped by the 40 all-handicapped-accessible parking spaces on site.

This spring, Dolan said customers should expect to find new and different plants and flowers, including herbs, vegetables and tropical plants.

Dolan stressed if you are unable to find what you want, his business will do everything it can to bring what you need to you in Austin.

"Austin is a great place," Dolan said of the place his business calls home. His family actually lives on a farm in Lansing Township. He expects to keep his business in town for 10 to 15 years, until his youngest son Justin graduates from high school.