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Spotlight on Top Business Owners in
Pets & Animals


Cole Veterinary Hospital

Name: Jennifer Wendt

Location: Saginaw, MI 

Type of Business:
Veterinary Hospital

What does your business do?
Cole Veterinary Hospital is a full-service veterinary hospital that has been serving the Saginaw, Michigan area since 1934. Initially a mixed animal practice, Cole Veterinary Hospital now exclusively sees dogs, cats, and some “pocket pets.” Our goal is to provide high quality compassionate care at an affordable cost. We have also worked closely with the local animal shelter, offering surgeries and care at a discounted rate.

When and why did you start the biz?
I started working at this hospital in March 2010, and completed the purchase of the hospital in January 2016. I was very impressed with the compassion and integrity of the staff on hand, and was extremely excited to purchase the hospital in order to continue this tradition and grow the business to be able to offer even more to our clientele.

How Many People are in your Company?
I currently have 13 employees on staff, both full time and part time.

Where's your office?
We have a very nice location right near the local shopping mall. The building, however, was built by friends of the founder, and many things are not up to code. We also have been growing, which is great, but we are finding that we need more parking and more exam rooms within the space that we have. We have a large area in the garage that is wasted space, as we no longer see large animals. I would like to use the garage to expand the usable space for clients, but I would also like to add a break room as my staff currently has no private area to get away and take a breath when needed.

What's the toughest part of running your biz?
Trying to work within pet parents' budgets - all owners would do everything available, but we need to use our skills to figure out where their money is best spent. It is also extremely difficult dealing with the "emotional whiplash" of crying with long time clients when their beloved pets are at the end of their lives, then have to compose ourselves and go into a room where owners with a new pet are extremely excited and want to know all about keeping their new family member healthy and happy.

What's the most fun part?
We love helping people make sure their "fur babies" grow and live a long and healthy life. Another great part of our job is when we can fix a problem and everyone gets to go home happy, healthy, and grateful.

Anything you would have done differently?
I don't think I would do anything differently, but I wished that I would have learned earlier that people perceive and believe what they want to, and I shouldn't take things personally. Especially when people are grieving over a loss - I feel like if I had realized that sooner, I would be less cynical than I have become. While it doesn't affect my work or home life, I do find myself having to remind myself to try to understand what the owners are feeling. I feel like I should automatically realize that without having to remind myself.

What's next on the horizon for your biz?
I would love to be able to have more exam rooms to make the experience of visiting the veterinarian less stressful and more comfortable. I would also like to grow the business so I can offer more services such as acupuncture and herbal medicine.

What advice do you have for others?
Even though the financial burden of veterinary school is daunting, if you truly want to be a veterinarian you should go for it. But, you have to be okay with being in debt for the rest of your life. And you should find a job within veterinary medicine that allows you to have an outside life - whether it is owning a practice so you can set your own schedule and your own vision, or working for an emergency clinic so you can see a wide variety of cases, or working for a corporate practice where you can come to work and leave on time, ... take the time to find the job that works for you.

How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
As I am new to owning a business, I definitely could use guidance as far as operating the business, especially since my office manager is new to her job as well. Getting advice on running a business would definitely help my stress. I would also like to be able to get some grant money in order to get my hospital where I would like it to be. Since I just purchased the hospital, I definitely am not in a position to take another loan comfortably in order to get the practice on the right track.

School (where, still in school, degree)?
Michigan State University - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree

Prior jobs or business?
Prior to veterinary school, I was an organic chemist at the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan. I had always known that I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I had some delays in getting to veterinary school, so I worked at Dow Chemical until I was able to start my veterinary career.

Favorite Food?
Don't have one - I love all sorts of italian food, pizza, nice crisp salads, and (of course) sweets!

What are your pets' names?
Dogs - Rusty, Maxwell, Cooper; Cats - Linus, Kitty Claws, Gus

Do any of these pets help with your biz?
All my pets have been my practice pets - when I needed to learn how to do a physical exam, draw blood, place an intravenous catheter, ... Now, I would like to be able to use them when a patient needs a blood transfusion and have them be the donors.

Is there any one person or event in your life that led you to go into business for yourself?
I have five children, so I did want the financial security of owning a successful business. I also wanted to be able to set my own schedule so that I am able to go on the occasional field trip or weekend away for a sports tournament. I don't ever want my kids to think that I chose work over them. Owning the hospital ensures that the majority of the time, I am able to go to their functions which makes them extremely happy.

Anyone you publicly want to thank?
Not that I can think of.

Contact Info:
Jennifer Wendt
2615 Schust Rd
Saginaw, MI 48603



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