Animal clinic in Hillsboro has new ownership

Veterinarian Jessica Winter and husband Scott have acquired the Hillsboro Animal Clinic from Norman and Connie Galle, who have concluded 40 years of service among area farmers and pet owners.Timing, circumstances and support came together to secure the ownership transition of one of Hills?boro?s well-established businesses last week.
As of June 10, Jessica and Scott Winter are the new owners of Hillsboro Animal Clinic, the veterinary operation launched by Norman ?Doc? and Connie Galle 40 years earlier.
Jessica, who has been working at the clinic since last November, will succeed Norman as the lead veterinarian and personnel manager. Scott will oversee the business side of the operation.
?Scott and I were in Lyons, and we both realized that the two of us together are the perfect match to run a business like this,? Winter said. ?He has a lot of business background, and I love managing the people and client communication.?
Trial period

The possibility of acquiring the clinic was one of the reasons Jessica came aboard in November. She had been working at the Lyons Vet Clinic in Rice County after completing her training at Kansas State University in 2010.
?We had actually been searching throughout the state of Kansas for an opportunity,? Winter said.
The couple became aware of Hillsboro Animal Clinic partly because Scott is a Hillsboro native, and partly because Galle had been a veterinarian at Jessica?s family dairy farm near Latham.
?The Galles actually contacted us,? Jessica said. ?We walked through the door and he said, ?Are you here to buy my clinic?? And I said, ?Well, maybe.??
Both parties used the past six months to test the idea of making it a long-term commitment.
?With (Scott?s) family being here, of course, that was a great opportunity for us,? Jessica said. ?But really, it just fit exactly what my interests are and his interests are.
?The timing was right,? she added. ?We wanted somebody who would be willing to be here with me for a little bit, but not drag it way, way out either.?
Two-way confirmation

Galle said the trial period confirmed his initial positive impression.
?It?s not often that you get the chance to sell a practice in a small town,? Galle said. ?The new veterinarians don?t want to come to a rural, small community. We?ve had several of them look at it.
?Some of them we didn?t think would be a good fit. This one we thought would be a good fit.?
Galle said he was impressed with Winter?s career outlook.
?She?s always wanted to be a veterinarian,? he said. ?So many of them just love animals. But she?s more interested in the care and treatment of them.
?She really wants to be a veterinarian, which was an integral part of saying, ?Yes, she?ll fit the bill here.? We felt good about it.?
Special assistance

In terms of navigating the ownership transition, Winter expressed appreciation to Clint Seibel, Hillsboro?s economic development director, and the state?s E-Community program he oversees locally.
?Obviously, financially they helped us with their revolving loan,? Winter said. ?But I would say that something they offered us as well is they just really connected us with the right people.
?They were very willing to talk to us, whereas there were times when we walked into some places and they were like, ?Oh, you guys don?t know what you?re getting into.? But E-Community people were very helpful.?
Seibel said helping the family of a returning Hills?boro native was particularly fulfilling for him.
?We were very excited to see Jessica and Scott move to Hillsboro to take over the veterinary business that has been around for many years,? he said.
?We definitely want to help our local entrepreneurs, but it?s a bonus for us when we see new families move to town taking advantage of our E-Community program as well.
?Since we started the E-Community program, we have made eight loans to various business entrepreneurs, many of which would not have been able to get started without our assistance,? Seibel said.

Looking ahead

Winter said she?s not planning major changes at the clinic, but does hope to expand in the area of small-animal medicine.
?I definitely still want to serve the agricultural industry and the beef farmers to the best of my capabilities,? she said.
?I know you probably wouldn?t be able to find a better large-animal veterinarian than Doc, but I enjoy doing both. It really is kind of appealing to me to serve the small-animal side, too, because I think (potential clients) are going elsewhere at this point.
?I enjoy managing people, and having other veterinarians here is something I eventually would like to do,? she added. ?With that, I really want to focus on growing the small-animal side of things.?
Living arrangements

The Winter family has moved into the house situated on the clinic campus a mile west of Hillsboro. The Galles, meanwhile, have established a home in Man?hattan.
?I think it?s important for everybody to know that (the Galles) have worked really hard for this, and for them to pass it on to Scott and me is just really an honor for us,? Winter said.
?It?s very humbling for them to have that much faith in us to continue forward and make it happen.?
Galle said he and Connie new the timing was right.
?We?ve been here 40 years,? he said. ?That?s probably long enough. People here are ready for a change, and you can only go so long.?

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