Editor’s Note: The Pipestone System and Pipestone Veterinary Clinic is growing and it will benefit all of us to understand the people and geography that make up this growth. Below is an interview that Swine Line conducted with Dr. Todd E. Williams, a principle in the Ottumwa Veterinarian Clinic which became a part of Pipestone Veterinary Clinic this past summer.
The Swine Line: How were you introduced to veterinary medicine?
Dr. Todd: I met my partner, Dr. Steven Menke, and his family when they moved to Ottumwa in 1985. We were neighbors. I was in the 3rd grade, but my brother, Chip, began working for Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic as a kennel kid. When he went to college, I took over that kennel role. Then, in the late 80s, as we were trying to clean up the last of the pseudorabies, I began working on a sow farm alongside one of the vets. A lot of those people I helped have since become my clients.
The Swine Line: Tell us about vet school and your decision of where to practice.
Dr. Todd: I graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor degree in animal science and went right into vet school. I always had a curiosity about the business aspect of veterinary medicine, so I also completed a minor in entrepreneurial studies. My intention, since 3rd grade, was to get my degree and return home. That is, in fact, what happened. I returned as a veterinarian to the Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic, where I had grown up.
The Swine Line: In what aspects of veterinary medicine were you involved?
Dr. Todd: I began my practice with Dr. Menke in 2002. When I arrived back in Ottumwa, the practice was in a very successful growth phase. We did both small and large animal work, and at one time even had a bovine practice, but we let it go because it wasn’t a big part of our business. At first, we were small-animal oriented, although supportive of the large animal owners in our area. Over the years, my involvement in the swine side continued to grow, and I helped bring new technology to the table to grow that part of the practice. We’ve always been a very small but committed group of veterinarians—committed to our clients.
The Swine Line: How did this union of the Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic with the Pipestone Veterinary Clinic come about?
Dr. Todd: In vet school, I was a classmate of Cameron Schmidt (Pipestone Veterinary Clinic of Iowa) and after we graduated in 2002, we kept in touch. From time to time, we’d ask each other, “Why are we pounding around each other’s back doors when we could be working together and serving our clients in a more localized area?” Then, over the last year and a half, the Ottumwa Vet Clinic was poised for exponential growth, and we knew we would have to bring in more support staff. We realized that we would have to create a system and build it from the foundation in order to maintain efficiency and superiority of product. That was the basis for our initial discussions with Pipestone. In these first meetings, it was clear that Pipestone’s goals and our goals were very much in line. That’s what drove us to the decision, this past June, to join the Pipestone System.
The Swine Line: What do you hope to come from this union?
Dr. Todd: I look forward to the level of expertise that everyone within the system brings to the table, from the vets and their approaches to heath challenges to the economic analysis that accounting can provide to the expertise the production team can bring to the table on our behalf. I also look forward to a formal mentoring process for our new staff, from barn employees to veterinarians. We’ve always mentored, but it has been more informal.
The Swine Line: What does Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic bring to the table?
Dr. Todd: We bring six managed sow barns with 19,000-20,000 of managed sows and a territory stretching from northeast Iowa all the way down to central Missouri, out of the PRRS belt so to speak. We can also support and encourage growth on the small animal side.
The Swine Line: What is important for Pipestone System stakeholders to know about you?
Dr. Todd: We try to maintain a family relationship in our practice—that’s very evident in our daily function. There are six veterinarians within Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic and three of us are alumnus of Ottumwa High School. Dr. Menke’s spouse is also an alumnus of Ottumwa. Four of the six veterinarians, as well, have very strong family ties to southeast Iowa. Together, we’ve become a larger family.
The Swine Line: Anything else?
Dr. Todd: Yes. We’re looking forward to meeting all the investors of the Pipestone System and getting to know them. We’re excited to help them in any way we can, and we have already experienced that they have been willing to help us in every way that they can.
I also want to thank our clients for having the respect and faith to believe in the major decision we made to go forward with this merger.