Many of life’s lessons haven’t come the easy way for Jermaine Anderson.
The earliest lesson was probably the toughest, when he lost his mom to breast cancer. He was only nine years old at the time, but she was already a huge influence in his young life. “Things happen in life that you can’t control,” she would say, as she took bad news from the doctors without ever seeming rattled or upset in front of him.
Both the pain and the strength from that time have fueled Jermaine throughout his athletic career, business ventures, and personal life. He tries to keep his mom’s memory alive by sharing those lessons with his own kids, reminding them to focus on the present and not worry about things they can’t control. “Easy times create soft people and … hard times create strong people,” he often says.
Playing sports provided plenty more lessons from the school of hard knocks. Jermaine played basketball with a top tier traveling club team and at a couple of private schools, figuring out early on that playing time isn't guaranteed – it comes from outworking the guy next to you. He was driven to practice relentlessly by a bet that if he earned a Division I scholarship, his dad would buy him a brand-new car. With credit to some great coaches and his dad’s consistent support, he landed a scholarship at the University of New Hampshire, where he was a starter for four years and earned a business degree.
After graduation, Jermaine signed with an agent and received an offer to play professionally in Europe but decided it was time to head in a different direction. He always had a goal of running his own business but wasn’t sure how to get there. He started out in sales roles, developing sales skills and business experience that were invaluable, but he ended up getting laid off multiple times as companies shifted their priorities.
“I do believe that everything happens for a reason,” Jermaine said. “In order to really grow you have to fail. Failure is a part of life. It's a huge part of being successful.”
Growing up, Jermaine was the kid in the neighborhood who took care of everyone’s dogs when they went out of town. He had an instinct for training and would teach them little tricks while their families were away. He grew up with a Doberman Pinscher at home, which first sparked his interest in the breed. And whenever a project was assigned at school, you could be sure his would be about dogs.
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With a lot of doors closing and nothing to bet on but himself, he decided it was time to start his own business, launching Loyal Canines Dog Training out of the back of his Nissan Altima. Since he didn’t have a facility to work out of, he eventually had to swallow his pride and get a minivan. He took the dogs to public parks all over town, but the set up wasn’t very conducive to Massachusetts winters. With so few overhead expenses, he was able to save up and finally lease a facility in Beverly, MA to use for his training, dog daycare and boarding programs.
After several years, Loyal Canines had outgrown the Beverly facility and opened a second location in Peabody, MA. Around the same time, Jermaine started competing in Schutzhund, a sport that tests a dog's temperament for tracking, obedience, and protection skills and is often used to train police dogs. “It’s really helped me fine tune my craft when it comes to training dogs,” he said.
Business was going well and New England was home, but Jermaine always kept the idea of moving to a warmer climate in the back of his mind. So when an opportunity came up to buy a pet resort facility and live near family in Naples, Florida, he took it. At this point, he and his wife, Melissa, were operating Loyal Canines in three locations, in addition to running a Doberman Pinscher breeding and training business called AJT European Dobermans out of their home.
The family relocated to Florida in 2018, then after Covid-19 hit, he decided it was time to close the Naples operation and sell the two in Massachusetts. He contacted Teija Heikkilä of PET|VET for assistance, after remembering a mailer from her that he had kept on file.
“Her team was nothing short of fantastic from start to finish,” he said, noting that she was extremely knowledgeable and confident from the beginning. “I can't express enough gratitude for their professionalism, their hard work [and] determination. They're great professionals,” he added. Before long, a deal was in place but suddenly fell through the day before it was supposed to close.
With Teija’s unwavering support and extensive contacts in the industry, they were able to find another buyer whom she trusted from previous deals, making the final sale that much sweeter. “If anybody has the opportunity to work with PET|VET, they'll be very lucky,” he says.
These days, the Andersons run AJT European Dobermans out of their home. They breed, raise and train Dobermans as working dogs and family companions. Named for their three kids, who play an active role in caring for and socializing the puppies, the business has had some high-profile clients from entities including the FBI, the DEA, NASCAR and the former director of the United States Secret Service to name a few. The Andersons also started AJT Estates, LLC, a Real Estate investment company that acquires and invests in residential homes, condos, townhomes and apartment complexes for short and long term rentals.
“I think one of the biggest lessons that my parents taught me is that they were never my safety net … They wanted me to get out there and figure things out.” That independence has given Jermaine a greater appreciation for his success and with the sale of Loyal Canines, he has the freedom to focus on new priorities and business opportunities as he welcomes the next lesson life brings his way.