On reflection, 2011 has been a very positive year for our growing organization. With the addition of five new affiliated hospitals, Pet Partners has weathered the economic challenges of this period in very favorable condition. With top class medicine prevailing and revenue and profits continuing to grow we all take a moment to reach out and thank those who work so hard at the practice level for their skill, tenacity, work ethic and dedication to the pets and owners in their respective communities. I have just returned from Lafayette, IN, where we have added Paw Prints Animal Hospital to our family. I welcome Dr. John Griese and his fine staff and our new Practice Manager Alicia (Piper) Kuebler. The transition team has had a fun few days interacting with the doctors and staff at Paw Prints and we all look forward to a long and prosperous relationship. Welcome John and Alicia and the entire team.
In 2011 Pet Partners added its first Specialty/Emergency Hospital and expanded the business model of the Company. In this year we elected Michael Williams of IDEXX to our Board of Directors and Michael has been a productive and thoughtful addition. Welcome Michael! This year has also seen the development, training and certification of our Black Belt Cornerstone Team. This internal team of Cornerstone experts under the leadership of our own Julie Record was a highlight at the Fall IDEXX Users Conference in Chicago. Congratulations again to this group of leaders whose charge is to help other team members become more and more adept at Cornerstone expertise and efficiency. This group is representative of the passion and leadership that comes from within our hospitals.
Weather was not our friend in 2011. With the largest amounts of snow seen in the Northeast in many years and persistent ice and snow in the Atlantic States we lost more days than usual. Summer storms, hurricanes, floods and October snow all combined to exacerbate the number of closed days. All the while our teams were relentless in delivering top class services no matter the circumstance. Two weeks ago I got a chance to participate in a “pot luck” lunch at Southern Tier Veterinary Associates in Vestal, New York. It was my first visit since the flood of 2011 that shut down the entire community and a chance for me to formally honor the team effort that will be remembered in this community for years to come. Their effort and compassion for the pets of that community are legendary in Vestal. I thank you all once again and offer a special acknowledgement. Did I mention how good the food was and the variety was spectacular? That was a warm and fun day.
In two weeks Pet Partners will have its 9th Annual Leadership Meeting in Baltimore, MD. I want to fully recognize all those who have helped to make this happen. I want to specifically point out IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Purina Veterinary Diets and Boehringer Ingelheim US for their support above and beyond and all the others who have participated. This will be an exciting gathering of the leadership brain trust of Pet Partners with close to 90 participants. In two full days we will combine discussions on medical CE topics provided by world class experts with the featured speaker this year to be Jon Ayers, CEO, President and Chairman of IDEXX. We will have round table discussions regarding our business and spend some time on our defined mission for 2012 and that is to bring our clients in more timely than in the past years. We all recognize the medical importance of seeing the aging pet more often and in doing so we hope to remove the “sticker shock” of the ongoing visits. In all of veterinary medicine the visit numbers decline while the cost per visit increases. Much of our meeting will concentrate on changing this dynamic and improving client loyalty. We are in for an exciting year.
The celebration dinner this year at the meeting will feature the first annual awards for Hospital of the Year, Veterinarian of the Year, Rookie Veterinarian of the Year and Practice Manager of the Year. These winners have been nominated by their regional manager and/or practice manager and supported in nomination by peers and clients. It has been an exciting process and the winners will be revealed for the first time at our dinner. Tune in next month for the winners. I am sure a picture of all will be posted on this website early in 2012.
2012 will see an active and consistent addition of new hospitals to our family. The escalation of acquisition possibilities further supports a business model that empowers leaders from within practices and provides the support and guidance necessary for medical and business success. As the business grows new people will continue to be added to the support team both in Wilton, NY and in the field. Training of managers and front desk personnel will strengthen under the leadership of Dawn Michael. And further development of our field support team is proving to be productive. The results of this training and field support development are most positive and will only get better.
In short we all expect 2012 to be a great year. On behalf of Lance Sprinkle, Tom Butera, Jerry Pullins, Jon Rappaport and me, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever is appropriate for you this festive season. And we all wish you a safe holiday and a Happy New Year. Thanks for being a part of this ongoing journey!!
Ted Sprinkle, DVM
Pet Partners CEO