Past HVMA President Jed Rogers shares a memoir of his time with HVMA and what he’s been up to since then.
Greetings fellow HVMA members,
I enjoy keeping in touch with HVMA through newsletters, emails, and trips to Hawaii. In a recent email exchange with Jill, she asked me to share some of what I’ve been up to since I moved back to the mainland.
After six great years in Hawaii and a lot of memorable experiences with family, friends, and colleagues at VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital and beyond, I had the opportunity to move to Denver, a city I had visited before but didn’t know very well. The opportunity was a veterinary technology company, and although the ideas and technology were solid, we were a little too far ahead of the industry’s comfort zone. From there, I went back to VCA for four years to help guide a recently purchased hospital. Once I had that practice stabilized and growing, I decided it was time to forge out on my own. So I opened Firehouse Animal Hospital in central Denver in 2004. We grew quickly, so my business partner and I raised money from a private equity firm and bought 7 other hospitals, merging 2 of the smaller ones into two of the bigger ones. We built 4 facilities in 6 years, and all of the hospitals were doing well, but when the financial crisis hit in 2008, our financial partners wanted out. So in 2010, we sold the practice group to VCA.
For the next year and a half, I focused on doing consulting for two shelters: Denver Dumb Friends League, and Hawaiian Humane Society, which enabled me to come back to Hawaii frequently.
In late 2011, I started another group of Firehouse practices in the Austin, TX area, with a veterinarian partner, John Faught. After the Denver experience, I had decided to not take private investments anymore, and not to acquire hospitals, but to start them from scratch instead. That means slower growth but a lot more independence for us as business owners and as practitioners.
While we were getting the first Firehouse hospital open in Austin, I was approached about taking a position at ASPCA in New York City overseeing all of the organization’s veterinary operations. In late 2012 I accepted that position. So from the end of 2012 to the end of 2016, I traveled back and forth between Denver and NYC to oversee a group of 400 employees (including 100 veterinarians) in four groups: Animal Hospital, Spay/Neuter Operations, Poison Control Center, and Humane Alliance (spay / neuter training). As the only veterinary representative in the senior leadership of the organization, it was a truly unique experience.
By the end of 2016, Firehouse needed me full time again, so I returned and have been focused on that ever since. We are now up to 5 hospitals, with a 6th in development and hopefully a few more on the way. Our goal is to create an independent group of hospitals that benefits from some economies of scale but is able to focus on patient care and client experience delivered the way we like. My business partner and I used to say that there were 100 little things that make Firehouse what it is, and he had the great idea to actually write them down here: https://firehouse.vet/100-little-things/
Along the way, I have had personal ups and downs too. In 2013, I lost my wife Maia to breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2002 and went through an 11-year journey. My kids (born in Hawaii) are my joy. My daughter Caitlin graduates from Colby College this year, and my son Eddy is a sophomore at the University of Denver. I recently married a college friend, Susanna Nemes, and we are now a blended family with 4 kids (all in college) and 6 cats.
I cherished my time in Hawaii. You all know just how unique it is. Where else could a haole learn to make a mean spam musubi? I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country and the world, and there’s no place better! Hope to see all of you again sometime soon.
Jed Rogers, DVM