The state of veterinary corporatization
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director
Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.
Here are the details that veterinary hospital groups nationwide shared with us on number of hospitals, company details and what theyre looking for in clinics to buy these days.
Back in 2017, veterinary consultant guru John Volk with Brakke Consulting let us use his research on who the big hospital chains and consolidators were at the time.
It will not surprise you to find out those same companies-with a few new players-are still growing in 2019. So, we took another dive into the world of veterinary hospital chains by asking them for information about their numbers and their unique approaches to buying, partnering and working with today's veterinary practice owners for mutually agreeable deals.
Here's what we asked and below is a list of all the hospital groups we could find looking to buy or partner.
If you're curious about this trend in veterinary medicine, your educational journey starts here.
If you're looking to sell a practice, and you want to know how groups compare to an associate, start here too.
- What is your company name?
- When was your company started?
- Who founded your company? Who owns/controls your company?
- How many hospitals do you have in your company? What percentage are General, Specialty and/or Emergency/Critical Care? In which states are the hospitals located?
- Are you buying hospitals? In which states are you buying hospitals?
- What ownership agreements do you enter into with current practice owners? (For example: 100% sale to you, majority sale to you, minority sale to you, you provide business services without buying, etc.)
- What are the top three features you look for in a hospital to buy?
- What business support do you offer in newly purchased hospitals? What systems do you offer that improve the way management or medicine is conducted in those hospitals?
By the numbers: Company hospital counts (as of press time)
- Banfield Pet Hospital (owned by Mars Inc.; 1,050 hospitals)
- VCA Animal Hospitals (owned by Mars Inc.; more than 925 hospitals)
- National Veterinary Associates (NVA) (more than 700 hospitals)
- VetCor (336 hospitals)
- Pathway Vet Alliance (275 hospitals)
- PetVet Care Centers (more than 200 hospitals)
- Blue River PetCare (98 hospitals)
- Southern Veterinary Partners (SVP) (90 hospitals)
- BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospitals (owned by Mars Inc.; 75 hospitals)
- Community Veterinary Partners (more than 60 hospitals)
- Veterinary Practice Partners (VPP) (56 hospitals)
- Mission Veterinary Partners (MVP) (49 hospitals)
- AmeriVet Veterinary Partners (46 hospitals)
- WellHaven Pet Health (46 hospitals)
- Compassion-First Pet Hospitals (44 hospitals)
- Lakefield Veterinary Group (44 hospitals)
- PetWell Partners (43 hospitals)
- Mixed Animal Veterinary Associated North America (MAVANA) (31 hospitals)
- People, Pets & Vets (PPV) (30 hospitals)
- Ethos Veterinary Health (25 hospitals)
- VitalPet (25 hospitals)
- American Veterinary Group (20 hospitals)
- Encore Vet Group (20 hospitals)
- Innovetive Petcare (19 hospitals)
- O'Brien Veterinary Group (16 hospitals)
- VetnCare (8 hospitals)
- Heartland Veterinary Partners (does not disclose)
- VetEvolve (does not disclose)
- Western Veterinary Partners (does not disclose)
More information: Company details
Click on the company name below to be taken to the page. (Mobile users? You can read through the entries with the "Read More" button.
Representatives of American Veterinary Group declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers and lists 20 practices in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The company's main contact info lists Tampa, Florida. The Bloomberg website lists Latticework Capital Management representatives as company board members.
> Run by CEO Thomas Thill
> Number of hospitals: 46, a mixture of general, specialty and emergency practices
> Currently buying hospitals nationwide
Majority sale to AmeriVet (typically 51%/49%, with "a couple 100% hospitals” and other variations)
What AmeriVet looks for in a clinic to buy
> Well-run, well-staffed and a certain level of EBITDA
> Prefers multidoctor or multilocation clinics
How AmeriVet supports purchased clinics
> AmeriVet “runs the back-end,” which includes operations (including IT), human resources, payroll (including 401(k) plans), marketing, vendor relations and more. “Economies of scale” bring down costs for supplies.
> “No uniforms, no renaming clinics, no mandatory vendor switching-the clinic operates as it has been, but with the backing of a major corporation,” says senior digital marketing director Austin Smith. “We don't tell the practice when to open or how to run, but we lift the load on things that get in the way of practicing.”
> Founded in 1955 in Portland, Oregon, by Warren Wegert, DVM
> Owned by the Mars family of businesses since 2007
Number of hospitals: More than 1,050, all companion animal general practice, in 42 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico (Banfield does not have hospitals in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming)
Currently buying hospitals in any U.S. state, Washington D.C. or Puerto Rico
100% sale to Banfield
What Banfield looks for in a clinic to buy
> Quality, capacity of facility
> Practice's financial health
How Banfield supports purchased clinics
> Staff perks and benefits
> Centralized support, with mentorship, comprehensive back-office and management support, and leadership opportunities
> Benefits of scale-with more than 1,000 hospitals and more than 3,400 associate veterinarians-from high-quality medical standards, data and research, to corporate social responsibility
> A dedicated transition team to transition a practice at a pace that maintains a stable environment with minimum disruption to associates, clients and pets, “only incorporating Banfield value branding once you're ready,” according to senior public relations manager Ryan Bartholomew.
> Founded in 1996 by brothers Neil Shaw and Darryl Shaw, DVM, DACVIM
> Owned by the Mars family of businesses since 2015
> Number of hospitals: 75, all specialty and/or emergency, in 24 states
> Currently buying hospitals (preferred not to disclose in which states)
Preferred not to disclose details
What BluePearl looks for in a clinic to buy
> Quality through a clinician-driven culture
> Strong hospital management
> Opportunity for further growth with location, ability to hire and current staff
How BluePearl supports purchased clinics
> Use of financial metrics, accounting and reporting services as well as support team liaisons who provide services that can include human resources and recruitment, IT and purchasing, business analytics, marketing, media relations and online programs as well as on-site management, if required
> Clinician-driven approach, with a comprehensive list of "Medical Quality Standards,” developed by veterinarians, that's essential to the practice of safe, high-quality medicine and changes as the medical literature and patient data grows. BluePearl's Director of Medical Quality has created a patient safety event reporting platform that we ask for our acquisitions to have operational within a year of acquisition. Standards, guidelines and event reports are overseen by the local Medical Director in cooperation with the practice manager or hospital administrator.
> A clinical studies division, with opportunities for post-DVM training as well as a sizable private offering of internships
Representatives of Blue River PetCare declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers and includes a map of practices in 26 states.
The company's main contact info lists Chicago, Illinois. Partners Group agreed to make a "significant equity investment on behalf of its clients” in the hospital group in February.
Representatives of Community Veterinary Partners declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers and includes a map of more than 60 practices in 10 states.
The company's main contact info lists Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Cortec Group owns a stake in the company.
> Founded in 2014 by John Payne
> Bought in 2019 by JAB Investors and managed by Payne, the management team, Compassion-First doctors and JAB Investors
> Number of hospitals: 44, with a patient volume split of two-thirds specialty and one-third emergency in 14 states
> Currently buying hospitals nationwide
Typically a majority, but not always 100%
What Compassion-First looks for in a clinic to buy
> Team's desire to improve medicine and seek better outcomes through education and learning
> Team's belief in the company's vision
> Team should share values of integrity, collaboration and empowerment
How Compassion-First supports purchased clinics
> Support services that allow practice owners to focus more closely on medicine and help practice grow, including recruitment, finance, accounting, legal, IT, human resources, operations, marketing, referral relations, education and training, and facilities.
> Medical directors join the Medical Directors Advancement Council to promote medical collaboration across hospitals
> Founded in 2018 by Ted Sprinkle, DVM, Lance Sprinkle and Bo Iler
> Owned by a number of shareholders, including North Castle Partners
> Number of hospitals: 20
> Currently buying hospitals “east of the Mississippi,” according to director of marketing Shana Gadt
100% or majority Encore sale, with investment opportunities for practice sellers or associates
What Encore looks for in a clinic to buy
> Strong medicine and culture
> Successful leadership and future potential leadership
> Forward thinking
How Encore supports purchased clinics
> Provides operations support, opportunities for education and professional development, and a collaborative environment to share best practices
> Founded in 2015 in a merger of four specialty hospital groups that had worked closely together before: IVG Hospitals, Premier Veterinary Group, Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital and Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego.
> Owned by about 40 individual shareholders, most of whom are veterinarians (but not all). Brown Brothers Harriman is a minority owner.
> Number of hospitals: 25, primarily specialty and emergency care, in 10 states
> Currently buying hospitals nationwide
Usually 100% sale, with practice seller encouraged to roll over some of their proceeds into equity in Ethos (“We're relatively early in our growth cycle, so practic sellers generally are very attracted to the growth upside of being Ethos shareholders,” says chief strategy officer Brian Cassell, DVM.)
What Ethos looks for in a clinic to buy
> Emergency and/or specialty practice
> Alignment of vision and values with a growth orientation
> Thoughtful leadership and management
How Ethos supports purchased clinics
> A “technology stack” of hospital management software migrated over a multi-year period
> Centralized approaches to IT, human resources, marketing, finance
> Additional strengths in facility design, talent acquisition and professional development
> Ethos Discovery, an effort at developing original clinical science that allows clinical teams to participate in unique scientific studies and innovation for the profession
> “Integration is something we do ‘with' the acquired hospital and not ‘to' the hospital, as impacts on the team and their culture need to be critically evaluated,” says Dr. Cassell.
> Founded in 2016 by current CEO George Robinson, DVM
> Owned by Tyree & D'Angelo Partners and managed by veterinarians
> Number of hospitals: Prefer not share, but all general practice
> Currently buying hospitals in the “heartland,” according to Dr. Robinson, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin
Customized to fit practice seller's needs
What Heartland looks for in a clinic to buy
> Cultural fit
> Growth potential
How Heartland supports purchased clinics
“We don't change medicine or formulary,” says Dr. Robinson. “We add operational efficiency and economies of scale.”
> Founded in 2015 by Mark Ziller and Paul Covill
> Owned by Metalmark Capital and the management team
> Number of hospitals: 19, with 84% general practice and 16% specialty and/or emergency in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas
> Currently buying and starting new practices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Majority or 100 owned
What Innovetive looks for in a clinic to buy
> Good cultural fit
> Quality of team
How Innovetive supports purchased clinics
> Services include human resources, payroll processing, marketing, training and staff development (including Innovetive University and the Innovetive Leadership Summits), recruiting, finance, purchasing, inventory management and vendor negotiation
Representatives of Lakefield Veterinary Group declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers and lists 44 practices in 10 states.
The company's main contact info lists Kent, Washington. The company is family-owned, according to its website.
> Founded in 2017 by Jeff Rothstein, DVM, and Vic Dhillon, DVM
> Majority owned by Shore Capital Partners, with minority veterinary team investors
> Number of hospitals: 49, 95% of those general practice, in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin
> Currently buying and starting up practices in the U.S. and Canada
100% sale or joint venture, with practice seller getting equity in MVP
What MVP looks for in a clinic to buy
> Revenue of $1.5M or more
> Three or more full-time equivalent DVMs
> Modern facility
How MVP supports purchased clinics
> Such services as talent acquisition, marketing, human resources, financial services (payroll, payables, accounting)
> Uses a hands-on operations team, with regional medical director and operations manager
> Founded in 2017 by Scott Spaulding, DVM, along with Owen McCafferty, CPA, CVPM, Randy Bimes, DVM, John Bitter, DVM, Dan Haskins, DVM, John Ismay, DVM, Kevin Foote and Justin Spaulding, with the initial merger of 21 mixed animal, equine and companion animal practices in 10 states
> Owned and controlled by roughly 85 shareholders, the vast majority of whom are practicing veterinarians; the seven-member board is composed of MAVANA shareholders
> Number of hospitals: 31, with 27 general, three specialty and general, and one emergency and critical care, in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
> Currently buying hospitals nationwide
100% sale, with combination of cash and shares in MAVANA
What MAVANA looks for in a clinic to buy
> Positive growth-oriented practice culture
> Sound financial management practices
> Three or more veterinarians with annual revenue of at least $1.5M
How MAVANA supports purchased clinics
> Support in administrative areas, with an extensive network of professionals to assist with specific practice needs
Representatives of National Veterinary Associates (NVA) declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers and lists more than 700 practices in four countries.
The company's main contact info lists Agoura Hills, California. The company was bought this year by JAB Investors, which also owns Compassion-First Pet Hospitals.
> Founded in 2005 and still owned by Greg and Emily O'Brien
> Number of hospitals: 16, with 13 general, two emergency and one feline-only, with locations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan
> Currently buying in Midwest, Mountain West and Florida, but would consider any state for “a great fit,” according to business development director Cassie Fredericks
What O'Brien looks for in a clinic to buy
> Revenue between $650K and $1.1M
> One to two doctors
> Practice owners who care about their legacy, staff, clients and patients, but may not be finding the right buyer
How O'Brien supports purchased clinics
> Support in recruitment
> Veterinarians get together four times/year for education, relationship-building and fun
> Managers receive coaching and support while building relationship with other hospital managers
> “All of our practices remain independent in their decision-making but gain the support of a family-owned group,” says Fredericks. “The medical practices and protocols are always left in the hands of the veterinarians and their teams.”
> Founded in 2003 by Jasen Trautwein, DVM
> Owned by private equity and investors
> Number of hospitals: 275 and growing (which includes Eye Care for Animals hospitals as well as preventive-focused Thrive Affordable Vet Care locations), with 50% general practice and 50% specialty and/or emergency in 34 states
> Currently buying hospitals in multiple states
100% sale, with cash-plus-Pathway-stock deals available
What Pathway looks for in a clinic to buy
> More than one doctor
> Opportunity for growth
> Quality facility
How Pathway supports purchased clinics
> Extensive marketing, IT, legal and finance services
> National vendor agreements that can lower cost of goods
> Founded in 1992 by Mike Murphy, DVM, currently Chief Pet Officer
> Led by veterinarians, but has “professional sponsorship” from Cressey & Company.
> Number of hospitals: 30 general practices in Arizona, Oregon, Texas and Washington
> Currently buying hospitals in Western U.S.
100% sale, with cash-plus-PPV-stock deals available
What PPV looks for in a clinic to buy
> Strong culture
> Great people
> Desire for a true partnership
How PPV supports purchased clinics
> Support with finance, human resources, recruiting, marketing, operations and IT.
> Network of doctors to collaborate and share best practices
> Access to multi-hospital data analysis for improved business practices
Representatives of PetVet Care Centers declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers and lists more than 200 practices in 28 states.
The company's main contact info lists Westport, Connecticut. A 2017 press release says the company was bought by KKR.
> Founded in 2013 by David Murvin and David Strauss
> Owned by a group of individual and family investors
> Number of hospitals: 43, mostly general practices, in Arizona, Maryland, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington
> Currently buying hospitals nationwide
Mostly 100% sales, with a few joint ventures
What PetWell looks for in a clinic to buy
> Legacy of medicine practiced and reputation in the community
> Facility location, equipment and quality of the patient and client experience
> Financial performance (both historical and future)
How PetWell supports purchased clinics
> Centralized support functions for operations, accounting, human resources, IT, marketing and recruiting
> PetWell is the first group to receive AAHA's “Practice Network Accreditation,” and all hospitals are either AAHA-certified or in the process of becoming AAHA-accredited.
> Founded in 2014 by Jay Price, DVM, Jeff Falone, DVM, Chase Whitworth, DVM, Elizabeth Robinson, DVM, and Barron Lakeman, JD
> Owned by veterinarian equity holders and Shore Capital Partners
> Number of hospitals: 90, with 95% general practice and 5% emergency in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia
> Currently buying hospitals in the above states as well as Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Washington DC and West Virginia
Everything from 100% sale to 51%/49% majority owned by SVP, with possible cash-plus-SVP-stock available
What SVP looks for in a clinic to buy
> Quality of patient care and customer service
> Availability of associates for recruitment
> Facility with space and capacity to grow
How SVP supports purchased clinics
> Support for operations, human resources, marketing, doctor and staff recruiting, and data reporting and analysis as well as purchasing.
> Founded in 1986 by Bob Antin, Art Antin and Neil Tauber
> Owned by the Mars family of businesses since 2017
> Number of hospitals: More than 925 in U.S. and Canada, with locations in Brazil and Japan; 90% are primary care, with another 10% specialty, including a new network of 35 Pet CancerCare Centers. Also, all Companion Animal Practices North America practices were converted into VCA practices this year, and CAPNA no longer exists since June of this year (although the website is still live).
> Currently "aggressively buying hospitals everywhere throughout the United States and Canada,” says Neil Tauber, EVP of acquisitions
What VCA looks for in a clinic to buy
“The top three features we look for in a hospital are excellent medicine, good growth and revenue exceeding $1.3 million,” says Tauber
How VCA supports purchased clinics
> During acquisition process, phases in support for human resources, IT, finance and accounting, marketing and more
> Offers practice management software, WOOFware, with a portfolio of ancillary products and services that include the myVCA app (which offers clients appointment information, drug refill capatbilities and pet health content) as well as online scheduling, 24/7 text messaging, voice notes, patient portals and more
> Internship and externship programs in North America, a growing medical mentorship program and online and onsite CE
> Career opportunities for all level of associates in hospitals, in regions and in corporate positions for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary managers and more
> Founded in 1997 by private investment group
> Owned by private investment group and senior management
> Number of hospitals: 336, most general practice
> Currently buying practices in 30 states and growing
100% sales, with “flexible employment arrangement for selling veterinarians”
What VetCor looks for in a clinic to buy
> Healthy practices, positive cultures and strong community connections
How VetCor supports purchased clinics
> Handles administrative functions, such as accounting, bill paying and payroll
> Offers strong compensation, benefits and wellbeing programs
> Provides ongoing support in general management, hiring, marketing, facilities and employee life.
> “Each practice has a veterinarian chief of staff and a manager, and it's our job to support them as they keep practices happy and healthy,” says chief marketing and recruiting officer Diana Byrne. “We're hands-off when it comes to how our veterinarians practice medicine.”
> Founded in 2011 by CEO Rich Lester
> Majority owned by Pamlico Capital
> Number of hospitals: 56, almost all general practice in 20 states across the East Coast, Midwest and as far west as Colorado
> Focused on partnering with practices primarily in states with currently owned hospitals
Owns majority stake in each hospital, but has more than 60 partners in hospitals using a “joint decision-making model,” says CEO Rich Lester
What VPP looks for in a clinic to buy
> Excitement from practice seller about co-ownership model
> Practice seller looking for help growing the practice
> Good fundamental existing business
How VPP supports purchased clinics
> Support with marketing, operations, finance, vendor contracting, recruiting, human resources and more
Representatives of VetEvolve declined to answer questions by press time.
The website is soliciting practice sellers.
The website lists two veterans as founders and owners.
> Founded in 2012 by Andrew Moffatt, BVSc, MBA, and Joanna Moffatt
> Owned by Dr. Moffatt and Joanna Moffatt
> Number of hospitals: 8, all general practice in California
> Currently buying hospitals and starting up clinics inside Petco stores in Northern California
“Tailored to meet the practice seller's needs,” says co-founder Dr. Andrew Moffatt
What VetnCare looks for in a clinic to buy
> Great community reputation, AAHA-like clinical standards, at least 1.5 full-time-equivalent DVMs, a practice owner excited to join the group, a strong and positive team, and reasonable financial performance
How VetnCare supports purchased clinics
> Support hospitals initially with intense human resources support to help the staff move through a challenging time of transition and change, then focuses on introducing AAHA standards, workplace efficiencies, facility improvements and marketing help
Representatives of VitalPet declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The company's main contact info lists Houston, Texas. A company listing on the internet says it's privately owned at present.
> Founded in 2017 by John Bork, Bob Lester, DVM, and Tom Reuss
> Owned by a small group of veterinarians, veterinary professionals and an investor
> Number of hospitals: 46, all general practices in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Washington
> Currently buying as well as building new, AAHA-accredited, Fear Free hospitals in the states above and California
100% sale as well as co-owning options
What WellHaven looks for in a clinic to buy
> Culture, quality of medicine and a great team
How WellHaven supports purchased clinics
> Covers all back-office support functions like human resources, payroll and benefits, marketing and finance.
> Also offers consulting, doctor leadership, a common cloud-based practice software, equipment upgrades, Cubex units, AAHA accreditation, Fear Free certification, wellness plans, team training, a “women in leadership” program and more.
Representatives of Western Veterinary Partners declined to answer or did not respond to questions by press time.
The company's main contact info lists Denver, Colorado.