U. S. Army
By Stefan Yablonski
Steven Mollica’s career has gone to the dogs — and he couldn’t be happier.
Mollica, a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve, and his wife, veterinarian Andrea (Dattellas) Mollica, brought a nearly 4,000-square-foot vacant Fulton building back to life and transformed it into a new state-of-the-art pet care facility.
They began Fort Frisbee in January 2022 at 801 W. Broadway, site of the former Sweet Inspirations. It officially opened April 11, 2022.
“I picked the location because it was the only thing available in the city of Fulton that could meet my needs. The other properties that were available were too small, too residential or needed too much work,” he said. “It’s close to everything, but not close enough to where there would be an issue with noise or any complaints.”
Business has been steadily increasing.
“The word is spreading about the services we offer and many of our customers are pleased with our services,” he said. “We have new services and features in the works that will hopefully increase customer and pet satisfaction.”
His vision is to have the business support other veterans.
“When I buy products to sell at my business, I first try to find a veteran-owned business that sells the products that I’m looking for. The dog treats I sell are from a veteran-owned business in Buffalo. The coffee I sell is a veteran-owned coffee business in Virginia,” he explained. “Not every veteran-owned business sells the products or services I need, so I can’t always choose a veteran-owned business. However, they’re often my first choice.”
He joined the active duty U.S. Army as an air defense artilleryman; served on active duty for four and a half years at Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, both in Texas.
“I completed a 15-month combat tour in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom VII-VIII.”
Mollica joined the military when he was 19 — because “I didn’t think I had much going for me at the time.”
He said he barely graduated high school because he didn’t value an education. Because of that, he was “rightfully denied enrollment into college,” he added.
He was working overnights in a distribution warehouse.
“All that considered, I figured I didn’t have much going for me at that time and needed to make a drastic life change if I wanted a better life for myself,” he explained. “That was my motivation to join and continue serving.”
When he left active duty, he returned to Syracuse, enrolled in the criminal justice program at Onondaga Community College — graduated summa cum laude with a 3.8 GPA.
Then, he took the Onondaga County correctional officer test.
“I was a top scorer on the test, eventually interviewed and selected to attend the Onondaga County Correctional Academy,” he said. “I graduated from the academy and started a short career working for the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office in the custody division at the Justice Center in downtown Syracuse.”
He worked for approximately 10 months before taking the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Police test. He scored high on that test as well and was selected to attend the CNY Regional Police Academy.
“I graduated from the academy and worked the next 10 years with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office in the police division. My assignments included road patrol deputy, tactical anti-crime patrol deputy, New York certified SWAT operator and detective,” he said.
“After spending much time in downtown Syracuse during the rioting and civil unrest of 2020, we made a family decision some time after that I needed to make a career change so I could be there for my family,” he added. “From this came brainstorming and the creation of Fort Frisbee.”
Also, after leaving the active duty military, he joined the Army Reserve. He was a trained intelligence analyst and did that job for several years and earned high level recognition for some of his work before making his third — and final Army job change as an animal care specialist.
“This is the military equivalent of a veterinary technician in the civilian world. My job is responsible for caring for all the military working dogs and privately owned animals on government installations under the supervision of a U.S. Army veterinarian,” he explained. “This job is vital to ensuring the health and safety of the military working dog community throughout the world.”
He said he chose to start Fort Frisbee because it complemented the experience he has had in his life.
“My wife is the veterinarian and owner of the Fulton Animal Hospital, so I’ve spent much of my adult life talking with her about animal medicine and observing the work she performs on a daily basis,” he said. “With the knowledge I’ve gained from her and the knowledge I learned through my military career, something in the animal industry seemed like a logical choice.”
He has a lot of pets — two dogs, one cat, one rabbit, four birds and one tortoise.
“My wife has owned the Fulton Animal Hospital since 2014 and has done a phenomenal job with managing staff, patient care and business operations,” he added. “She’s an excellent role model for me and anyone looking to start or improve a business. She won the SBA small business excellence award several years back and has been doing great things ever since.”
Growing up Mollica was a very active kid; he played baseball and football.
“I was also actively into entrepreneurship,” he said, adding, “I don’t think I knew what that term meant at the time —but that was what I did!”
During his middle school years, he was very big into learning magic tricks.
He spent hours learning from books and the early days of the internet — using what he learned to host a few neighborhood magic shows. “I probably had five-10 kids that came and I charged admission. I also offered a raffle that kids could buy for an additional fee. I held a few shows in the neighborhood before my life interests changed,” he said.
Following that he would shovel neighborhood driveways for a fee. Following that he would build very small scale websites for a fee.
“I taught myself a lot as a kid and I used what I learned to try and make something from it,” he said. “That was my early experience in business.”