Dr. Timothy J. Thompson wanted to own a practice so much, he says he would've bought a lemonade stand with a dog run attached. So he and his wife, Dr. Shannon A. Thompson, both 1994 Texas A&M University graduates, only spent a year as associates before buying Hope Animal Clinic in Marble Falls, Texas. They leased the 850-square-foot building and within a year bought land to build the mixed animal facility of their dreams.
There's strength in numbers, the saying goes. But for the veterinarians at Findlay Animal Hospital in Findlay, Ohio, strength comes not only from the number of doctors but also from the number of hospitals they own around town.
Looking at the 18,832-square-foot Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood, Colo., it's hard to imagine the practice's humble beginnings. In 1991, Dr. Sam Romano's emergency practice merged with Dr. Steve Wheeler's internal medicine practice and Dr. Marlon Neely's mobile surgical practice in an 1,100-square-foot garage. Three years later they added oncologist Dr. Robyn Elmslie, Dipl. ACVIM, and moved into a 5,600-square-foot converted dental facility.
Good luck and support from her family made all the difference when Dr. Sue A. Stiff was building a new facility for Kiln Creek Animal Care in Newport News, Va. Most business owners in this seaside locale can't afford land. But fortune smiled when Dr. Stiff secured a 2.7-acre site in an exclusive golf community--for half its value. In addition, her husband, a local emergency veterinarian, kept an eye on the practice while she devoted her time to the building project.
Consulting with clients over a picnic table, housing patients in the restroom, and stacking portable cages to the ceiling may sound like a bad dream to most veterinarians. Dr. Neil Shaw and his team endured this daily reality for more than two years at Florida Veterinary Specialists, a 1,500-square-foot leasehold hospital in Tampa, Fla.
How often does a knock on the door make your dream come true? Once was enough for Drs. James McGill and Linda Miller, two veterinarians who worked in separate practices north of Seattle. Despite a virtually invisible location, Dr. McGill's 2,300-square-foot leasehold was growing 30 percent each year. And Dr. Miller wanted to offer 24-hour care, but a surgical hospital rented the facility during the day. Both doctors wanted new hospitals, but the cost held them back.
When you mention Colorado, most people picture spectacular views. But from their tiny strip-mall leasehold, staff members at Centennial Valley Animal Hospital in Louisville, Colo., could barely see the parking lot, much less the Rocky Mountains beyond.
Drivers passing East Lake Veterinary Hospital in Dallas do a doubletake when they see dogs running across the roof of the facility. To offer obedience training in her new practice, owner Dr. Karen Ann Fling added a 2,500-square-foot roof deck. This amenity garners plenty of attention, especially when training classes are in full swing.
The owners of Causeway Animal Hospital in Metairie, La., asked architects Michael K. Crosby and Sal Longo Jr. to draw elevations for a new facility. But the architects yearned to design the entire building, so they produced extensive computer renderings and predicted they'd build Veterinary Economics' Hospital of the Year.