Business Story: Marshall Animal Hospital

Dr. Jason M. Anderson, known as Dr. Jay, has combined his love of animals with a deep passion for entrepreneurship. He came to SmartBiz Loans to help fuel growth for his successful veterinary practice. We sat down with Dr. Jay to learn more about his business and plans for expansion.

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Dr. Jay cut his teeth in his father’s veterinary practice by swatting flies and cleaning kennels. His childhood is filled with memories like listening to Waylon Jennings on the way to a dark pasture to deliver a calf in the middle of the night.

He caught the entrepreneurial spirit early by collecting recyclable bottles on the highway for a dime, which he would trade for treats at a local general store.

As he matured, so did his love of medicine and problem-solving. However, at that time, the vet industry wasn’t as popular as it is today, and veterinarians didn’t make a lot of money. He announced that he wanted to become a brain surgeon because of the income but his goal changed in college.

“I realized that my purpose was more important than money,” he says. “I had a calling to help animals.”

He graduated vet school in Texas as a doctor at the age of 23.

Dr. Jay came out of school ready to conquer the world. He immediately went to work for private vet practices in San Antonio. It didn’t turn out the way he envisioned.

“I was fired from my first two jobs,” he reports. “Mistakes were made, and I wasn’t necessary.”

He went to work for his dad, Dr. Michael Anderson, who started an equine veterinary practice in 1971 and grew it into a full-service mixed animal hospital.

Dr. Jay’s father improved animal care in the entire region with one exam room, a truck and working pens out back. Sadly, his father passed away 6 months after Dr. Jay joined the practice.

“I was an employee one day and a business owner the next. Personnel, marketing, quality control, cash flow – I didn’t know anything,” he admits. “I was just trying to survive, and it was extremely overwhelming. I had no vision, I just tried to work hard and make the place work. I really wasn’t even a very good doctor at that point.”

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Trying to get away from it all one week, he attended a seminar in Hawaii about how to manage your practice.

“It was life-changing,” he says. “I got my feet under me and learned business principals.” He continued to increase his business knowledge by reading, attending seminars and working with a consulting group. “It was a lot of trial and error,” he says.

“The problem is that most vets will sign on with a consulting firm and get excited. However, implementing the strategies on Monday morning is a whole different story.”

Dr. Jay didn’t have that issue and was very motivated to thrive.

Over time, Marshall Animal Hospital began to transition itself into a full-service companion animal hospital with an emphasis on quality and stellar employees passionate about animal care. Dr. Jay knew his business model was successful and began to focus on next steps. He’s now in the process of purchasing 2 other practices and will soon be in charge of 30 to 40 employees.

“Along the way we’ve been able to systemize the process and it works very well,” he says. “I’m focused on running the businesses but will step in as a vet when needed.”

His dad started Marshall Animal Hospital without getting a loan.

“It was a mobile equine practice,” Dr. Jay says. “Not a lot of capital was needed.” However, when it came time to expand, Dr. Jay knew he needed outside funds.

“We were getting into expansion mode and needed to move into multiple practices. I worked with financial advisors who helped me get to SmartBiz. The process was very smooth. It’s a lot of steps so you have to persist but it’s worth it when you cross the finish line.”

SmartBiz team member Doug Kilroy worked closely with Dr. Jay during the application process.

“Dr. Jay identified ways to expand business operations,” Doug reports. “It's inspiring to work with applicants like Dr. Jay with so much talent and passion and match them up with a bank lender that wants to help take their business to the next level of success.”

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Dr. Jay secured a $350,000 low-cost SBA loan.

“The funds are going to business expansion, equipment, training, marketing and digital advertising.”

You can hear the excitement in his voice when he discusses growing the business.

“I love it all,” he says. “The stress, the speed, the challenges and the risk. Most of all though, I love helping people and pets. It’s satisfying.”

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