In times like these, it’s hard to imagine that there is any possibility of great success for business owners. The stress of COVID-19 and all the challenges of 2020 have left some business owners drained of a positive outlook. It is difficult to believe that there is a way to thrive as the fear of closings and the struggle of adapting to a new way of operating looms over many entrepreneurs.
If you’ve been in need of some business inspiration–and a ray of hope–look no further. Our CEO and Creative Director, Marta Greca, interviewed our client, Katy Hunter, who started her business at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katy Hunter is the owner of Glades Pike Veterinary Hospital in Somerset, PA. While she works as the business manager, her husband focuses on the medicine aspect as their veterinarian. Her journey to creating her business started last year while she was living in West Virginia. Katy said she found out that she was pregnant and wanted to move back to Pennsylvania to be close to her family. At the time her and her husband, Josh Hunter, had two practices in West Virginia, where he commuted an hour both ways. She worked as a distributer representative for veterinary sales and traveled the entire state.
“It’s always been my five year plan to come home. The opportunity just presented itself and we set the move into motion,” Katy said.
The Hunters set to work on finalizing their move. Their miracle daughter, Gwenny, was born the day before Thanksgiving in 2019. With their new baby with them, the plans for their new veterinary clinic moved along. Construction was ready to go and their opening date was set.
Then COVID shut the country down.
Katy said that unveiled a whole new set of challenges.
“We were relocating five hours, closing two practices…and we were going to open in an area where we didn’t have any existing clients,” Katy said. “When a lot of vets move and go out on their own, they are going somewhere where they have been in a practice in the area, so they’ll have clientele who will follow them. Nobody knew us.”
Despite the stress of opening a business, and doing it all while caring for a new baby, Katy continued forward with the plans. She said that her desire to be home with her family drove her to continue.
“It was important to us that Gwenny grows up on the farm with our family. Josh has a daughter, Emma, whose mom lives in Pennsylvania too,” Katy said. “At 17 years old, it makes it a lot easier for her to maintain her social life. She can do her normal thing and be more a part of our life, and we are much more a part of hers now.”
Katy’s family farm holds a special place in her heart that she didn’t want to keep from her daughter. She grew up in Pittsburgh, and at the time her father owned the largest independently owned scaffolding business in the country. When she was in seventh grade, during a trip to Hidden Valley where her mother was redoing a condo, her father took her and her sister horseback riding. Katy said that while they were there her father “got bit by the bug” and decided to take over the farm from the woman who owned it. They moved to the farm full-time when Katy was a junior in high school. Her father now works from home and is a farmer, caring for the land he fell in love with.
Much like her father, Katy took that same leap of faith to start her business.
“I kind of go blindly into things,” Katy said. “I believed this was going to be OK–we were going to be fine. Market research told me this area was really underserved, so I thought that was important.”
Because Glades Pike Veterinary is based in a small town, word spread about their business quickly. Success came within the challenges of deciding what they considered an essential service during lockdown in the early months of 2020.
“In veterinary medicine, it’s a tough line of what’s considered essential and what’s not. It’s really up to the doctor to determine that. A lot of the clinics that were established weren’t taking things, and I think that’s what’s led us to be so successful. We’ve seen it all,” Katy said.
Katy said they’ve gotten hard cases and very sick dogs. Glades Pike is unique as well, as it offers 24-hour emergency service for pet owners.
“I believe what’s allowed us to overcome most of our challenges is our accessibility. We always answer,” Katy said.
Other veterinary clinics were backed up with appointments, Katy said, which allowed her to take some of the weight off of their shoulders. Glades Pike also has niche capabilities and services that draw pet owners to them–capabilities that they learned from working in rural West Virginia.
“There weren’t a lot of hospital referrals. People who wanted to take good care of their pets couldn’t afford to spend $4,000 on a knee surgery. So Josh learned how to do some of that stuff. We have tools that other hospitals around us don’t have, so we’ve built a referral base that other vets can refer us and we do the diagnostics,” Katy said.
One piece of advice that Katy would give to entrepreneurs is that business owners have to follow their gut.
“You have to know you didn’t get where you are because your gut is always wrong. You have to believe that you can do it. Lay out your plan and execute it. There are certainly going to be roadblocks, but you have to power through them. You have to kn0w what your end goal is and how you’re going to get there. Whatever that plan is, despite what challenges you have, you follow it. Stay on your roadmap,” Katy said.
Listen to Marta’s podcast interview with Katy here!
If you’d like to be a podcast guest, contact us! You’ll get:
- A recorded podcast shared to all of our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube
- Emailed out to our audience of thousands
- Shared to our podcast channel where thousands can learn about you and your business
Contact us today and secure your spot. Don’t wait! The schedule fills up fast and you’ll want to get your voice out there ASAP.