To be successful in business, “Find a need that’s not being met and meet it better than anyone else.” This is the mantra of Wayne and Kathy Buell, co-founders of Creamayre Brook Farm, located on Highway 40. From a sunny dining room overlooking their beautiful gardens, and what one might call a Five Star Equestrian Center, Wayne and Kathy share humble, but profound, wisdom learned over three decades of running the facility from their family farm.
For so many businesses, the past two years have been challenging. Many know the reality of needing to pivot, adapt, or change industries completely. While Creamayre Brook has seen nothing but growth and stability as a business, the response to COVID 19 across the world caused a ripple effect that is bringing change to the property.
HISTORY OF CREAMAYRE BROOK FARMS
Having grown up working the family farm in Heber City, Wayne brought Kathy back to Heber Valley in 1981 with their young family. Returning to a rural community was a way for Wayne to make good on a promise that they would one day have a place for her to enjoy horses again. Kathy had to sell her pride and joy, Sundance, a retired race horse she bailed out of the slaughter house years earlier as a horse-smitten teenager.
Named for the Creamery that had once been located on the stream running through the farm, Wayne and Kathy invested in Morgan horses shortly after finishing their home in 1983. Kathy emphasized that the main reason for building the business was so their children would learn how to work and have a way to earn money working together as a family. It didn’t come without sacrifice. Sheridan, a beloved Morgan gelding was polished up in his training for the Utah State Fair. Along with his winnings, he won the attention of a buyer who paid $5,000 — just the amount needed to purchase the first ten, custom, stall fronts for the new barn. The barn filled immediately, and soon they expanded to 22 stalls; with more stalls added as their business continued to expand.
Wayne’s dedication to impeccable stalls and a precise feeding schedule earned the trust of two local investors. They agreed to finance a deluxe indoor arena worthy of Grand Prix level horses — a must in Utah climates for competitors who want to ride year-round. Wayne’s commitment to top quality amenities like a cross country course, rubberized arena footing, and top trainer Hillary Howe on the property easily keeps the clientele full year-round.
In Kathy’s words, “Wayne is the machine that makes it work. He harrows the arenas every day. Every. Day. And then he waters the arenas every day, spring, summer, and fall, so that the footing is nice and moist, and its soft and puffy. Not too deep. Just right. Then this past year, we added on 20 new stalls and 8 welded pipe corrals for daily turnout pens. Wayne tries really hard to accommodate people’s needs in how to take care of their horses.”
Wayne added, “In business, the number one thing is that the customer is always right. “With a 27 year dual career as a teacher, Wayne’s days have started early with 6 am feedings, a full day teaching 6th graders, and an evening of more chores. “That’s why we would eat at 9 or 10 o’clock at night,” adds Kathy, “and he was one of the teachers that didn’t want to bring his schoolwork home with him to grade papers. He wanted to get it all done there. So he’d come home at five, hurry and change his clothes, go out and do all his chores — that means the feeding, the graining, the watering, the dust control, the harrowing; it’s a lot! Seeing what we do, others have bought an arena or a barn, thinking it would be fun, but it doesn’t usually last very long because it is a lot of work. You are responsible for other people’s pets. This is not for everyone. Many don’t realize how much work it is.”
The grounds are another story. While walking through the property, one admires the extensive landscape design created by Kathy over years of planting, to which she humbly replies, “Don’t look at something like this and think, oh it’s too much work. We built this one fence post at a time. One tree at a time.” The attention to detail and the pure love of land and animals make the property a true oasis from a technology-saturated world — a world that changed quickly in March of 2020, bringing with it new changes to the farm.
A WHOLE NEW DEVELOPMENT
Wayne and Kathy’s daughter, Lyndsey, and her husband, Diego Vazquez had been living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan, New York City, for the past six years; with very successful careers in both fashion and restaurants. And then COVID hit.
Diego explained, “I was opening restaurants for a company called Roberto’s and I was supposed to leave for Chicago to open a restaurant. The day before I was supposed to leave, the world shut down. They tried to transition me to warehouse supervisor, but when everyone kept getting sick, I said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and I decided to quit.” Lyndsey was across the river in New Jersey preparing to open an H&M store when the announcement came that the trains were shutting down. If she didn’t get back into New York, she’d be stuck. She left immediately, marking the beginning of the end.
“So, we ended up in our little tiny apartment in Brooklyn for three months with no jobs — and then we came back to Utah to stay with Wayne and Kathy.” While Diego and Lyndsey explored their options for work, Kathy and Wayne had observed that every time they needed to board or groom their dog, there was a waiting list and simply not enough providers filling the need. Always ready to spot a gap, Kathy saw an opportunity, and the idea for Creamayre Brook Kennel was born.
CREAMAYRE BROOK KENNEL AND GROOMING
When asked what they each bring from their prior experience, Diego explained, “We’re excited to join the dog community. I feel like Lyndsey’s the creative one with vision and knowing the actual layout of the plan. Then I’m way more like the business manager. I can open things and run it.” Fully embracing the change as a newly-certified dog groomer, Lyndsey laughs easily with a quick smile, “Life changes quickly and you have to roll with the punches.” Lyndsey is already open for grooming with a long list of clients happy to have her sense of design and artful grooming as they await the remodeling of the full facility which will include: a check-in lobby, indoor dog kennel, pet grooming, doggie daycare, an indoor play area with canine grass, indoor/outdoor dog runs, sub-divided field with dog turnout areas, and a clothing boutique curated by Lyndsey.
Change is inevitable, but no matter what happens, the business will stay in the family. Kathy stated, “We started the business so that our kids would learn how to work. Somebody from our family will always run it.” Wayne added, “When they work here, on this place, they understand the work. They have a vision of the work. They’re not vacant landlords. Our son Sean, [who passed away when he was 10] started working here when he was 5 or 6. He could barely push the wheel barrel, and he was cleaning stalls. And it wasn’t because we asked him. He asked us. He wanted to get money and be a part of it.” Wayne continued with pride, “He wanted to be part of the whole operation and if you handle it the right way, there’s a sense of camaraderie, pride, and community in your family when you’re working together for the same goal. There’s a work ethic that our kids developed, and that is just an example of why we built our barn. It’s not about money.”
Both Kathy and Wayne agree that running a family business is a lot like a marriage. “You need to have good communication; you need to know how to compromise. You can’t say ‘it has to be this way.’ You need to be able to work things out with some compromising. Then you can make it work — the hard work is worth it.”