The heart and soul of caring for animals

Justin Voll, President of First International Bank & Trust, remembers a time when the future of Watford City’s veterinary business was in question. The city’s longtime veterinarian had closed his practice after experiencing health issues.

“Watford City was lucky enough to have a longtime vet, Dr. Nelson, in town for many years. There was uncertainty of how he could be replaced. We were worried that if a vet didn’t come into the community the service would be lost forever,” said Voll. “When Dr. Pedersen came along and told us about his plans, we were all in with him to try to figure out a way to make it work.”

And the plans that Dr. Bruce Pedersen brought were big. He started out by leasing Dr. Nelson’s practice, but quickly outgrew it.

“It didn’t take me long to realize that it was going to keep growing,” said Pedersen, who spent 12 years in Idaho before hearing about the need for a veterinarian in Watford City.

In spring 2013, Pedersen approached the Livestock Association about buying some land for a new facility. Recognizing the need for veterinary services, the Livestock Association practically gave the land to Pedersen, selling it for just $20 an acre.

“It was really their gift that allowed this,” said Pedersen. “My goal was to match what they risked on me with a facility that really matched that generosity … I think we’ve done it.”

It’s hard to argue with that. The new Watford City Veterinary Center is the largest veterinary facility in North Dakota and the third largest in the U.S., at 32,000 square feet. With all that space, the facility offers small and large animal medicine and surgery, large animal field services, equine services, oncology, telemedicine, behavioral services, herd health management, boarding and grooming services, in addition to a conference room and three apartments. Pedersen approaches all of these services with an eye toward keeping his practice on the cutting edge.

“The heart and soul of our culture is innovation,” said Pedersen. “I view the hospital as a little bit of an incubator … technology isn’t always the answer, but it is a tool.”

Cash flow during the building process was of particular importance. To get over this hurdle, Voll directed Pedersen to Bank of North Dakota’s Flex Partnership in Assisting Community Expansion (PACE) Program.

“We have used this program throughout the years at First International Bank & Trust,” said Voll. “Utilization of this BND program was instrumental for the ability of the project to get financed.”

The Flex PACE Program supports community-based economic growth by combining the resources of the local community and the PACE fund to provide an interest rate buydown to projects which the community determines will be beneficial.

Pedersen says that the future of veterinary medicine has its challenges, but he doesn’t let it worry him.
“Every challenge is just an opportunity,” he says.

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