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Twins build twice


Drs. Jeffrey and Randy Schuett got rid of the large animals, but they needed a bigger facility for small ones.

Twin brothers and veterinarians Drs. Jeffrey and Randy Schuett loved building their own hospital so much that they did it twice. First, they went from renting 800 square feet to building the 5,500-square-foot Pewaukee Veterinary Services in Pewaukee, Wis. It was the 1984 Hospital of the Year in Veterinary Economics' Hospital Design Competition. Judges loved the beautiful exterior, the energy-efficient design and location, and the look of the materials. Jeffrey loved the fact that he could take care of his small animal patients upstairs, and Randy had a large open space downstairs to handle large animals.

Since then, things have changed. The number of clients has increased, and the size of the patients has decreased. There are fewer large animals in the community, so Randy switched to small animal practice. It wasn't a hard transition; he had kept up with the latest medicine and kept his skills sharp by working upstairs with Jeffrey once a week. The brothers turned their expansive bottom floor into a kennel area with 34 runs, plus 30 cat condos. There was even enough room to teach classes to veterinarians. But the extra space wasn't enough, Randy says.

"We reached a level where we tapered off," Randy says. "We were maxed out, using an X-ray room as a fourth exam room. We went from three to six doctors. We were bumping into each other."

So the brothers started the whole building process over again, but this time with a twist: no veterinary-specific architect. The Drs. Schuett were more focused on getting exactly what they wanted out of the new facility, and they thought somebody who really understood them would do the best job organizing the project.

"We found a fellow practitioner who calls himself an 'advocate for the veterinarian,'" Randy says of Dr. Allen Ibsen.

As a practice owner who's built eight hospitals himself, Dr. Ibsen likes to help other veterinarians with the process, Randy says. Dr. Ibsen took on the role of owner's representative and design consultant, working with the architect to address zoning issues and oversee all the construction details once the brothers told him exactly what they wanted.

"That was huge," Randy says. "Last time we had to take time off of work to get this done."

The result: a new 24,000-square-foot facility on self-named Schuett Drive with eight regular exam rooms. A ninth room is dedicated to acupuncture, chiropractic care, and an underwater treadmill, and was a last-minute addition. The brothers saw the demand and hired a veterinarian full-time to work on alternative medicine and rehabilitation.

"We've incorporated the post-surgery therapy work into the prices," Randy says. "It's a mindset to remind ourselves to use it, but there's a demand for it."

The new facility was also built to duplicate the success stories of the first facility. They transplanted the 34 runs from the old facility to a room the same size. The cat condos were brought over, and 16 luxury suites with TVs were added for high-rolling dogs. The design had extra space for an enlarged surgical facility and a diagnostics room. There are also elevators so that doctors and technicians aren't lugging pets up and down the stairs.

The duo entered the new facility in the 2005 Hospital Design Competition, but it didn't win. Randy didn't shed too many tears.

"The traffic flow is wonderful," he says. "The reception area is beautiful. There are separate feline and canine waiting areas. It's perfect."

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