Following participation in the Lanark County Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) Survey in 2018, the Town of Smiths Falls is launching a series of profiles to highlight the businesses who took part in the survey. This series will celebrate the successes of local businesses doing amazing things and contributing to the growth and prosperity of the region; they are prime examples of BR+E done right.
Lanark Vet Clinic brings veterinary excellence to Smiths Falls
Providing high quality care is a passion for Lanark Veterinary Clinic owners, Dr. Haerishton Lima, and his wife, Vera – a passion that has translated across all aspects of their small business. Located in Smiths Falls, the Lanark Veterinary Clinic is taking veterinary care to the next level, providing Smiths Falls and area clients with veterinary excellence and cutting-edge technologies in a rural environment.
The clinic itself has been located in Smiths Falls for more than 20 years, but has been owned and operated for the past four years by the Limas. Originally from Brazil, Haerishton worked with the clinic’s previous owner, Dr. Kevin Bacon, since 2006, and officially took over the clinic in 2015.
The Lanark Veterinary Clinic sees more than 4,000 patients each year, and the Limas have prioritized providing their clients with a diversified range of services, and with staying current with new technologies and education. The clinic’s success on this front hasn’t gone unrecognized; the clinic has attained the highest standard of veterinary excellence available, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) certification, one of only seven clinics to receive this designation in the Ottawa area.
“Being AAHA licensed means that our clients receive the highest level of care right here at home, a level that some would attribute to big Ottawa and urban clinics,” said Vera Lima, hospital administrator, “Our staff are constantly updating their education and we are always looking for new technologies that will improve our services.”
At the heart of the clinic’s vision is to create a low-stress environment for animals, and deliver the very best veterinary care possible. Providing as many services as possible in-house, reducing transportation time and handling are key to achieving this vision.
The clinic currently offers orthopedic and dental surgery, physiotherapy, laser therapy, and treadmill physiotherapy for recovery after surgery, but the Limas are constantly searching for new opportunities to introduce new technology to the clinic.
That search was fruitful in 2018, when the clinic received funding from the Eastern Ontario Development Project (EODP) to purchase ultrasound equipment. By introducing this service in-house, the ultrasound equipment allows the clinic to service clients who in the past would have been referred to Kingston or Ottawa for ultrasounds.
As Vera explained, less transport and handling equate to less stress on the animals, and improved care.
“The EODP resources helped us to be able to offer more services to the community,” Vera said, “The program really helps small businesses like ours offer higher innovation.”
While innovation is something the Limas continue to embrace, they understand their staff are also important to the process. The Limas own and operate a sister clinic in North Gower, Carleton Veterinary Services, which is also AAHA certified. Between the two locations they employ more than 20 staff, many of whom are long time employees.
The secret to their success in retaining staff is simple, according to Vera: Honour staff and respect their home life and work life balance and boundaries, while ensuring they have the support they need.
“In this industry it’s easy for employees to encounter compassionate fatigue,” Vera explained, “We are very aware of this and ensure staff have mental health resources available to help them cope.”
The Limas’ success in retaining employees could come from their open door management policy, and their commitment to prioritizing staff continuing education. Vera explained that without furthering education it’s easy to become mired in the same routine, and providing staff with opportunities for continuing education can assist the clinic in keeping up to date with new developments in the industry.
“It’s important to continue to achieve and grow, for us and our staff,” Vera said.
Success seems to breed success in the Limas’ case, and with two successful veterinary clinics under their belts, the couple aren’t slacking off now. Next on the horizon is the goal of opening another clinic in Lanark County, location yet to be determined.
For the Town of Smiths Falls, the Limas’ represent a Smiths Falls business who is doing it right when it comes to employee retention.
“It’s especially gratifying to hear the successes many businesses are experiencing in Smiths Falls,” Jennifer Miller, Town of Smiths Falls Manager of Economic Development said, “The BR+E survey was instrumental in bringing these businesses to light.”
Miller explained that one of the outcomes from the Town’s participation in the BR+E survey was the decision to partner with onTrac, Valley Heartland, Small Business Advisory Centre, and the Smiths Falls & District Chamber of Commerce to host an employee attraction and retention workshop. At the conference, Vera was invited to speak and relay the wisdom the Limas have gleaned through their experience in Smiths Falls and the Ottawa area.
“Lanark Veterinary Clinic’s story is a good news story and an indicator of the economic climate that’s happening right now in Smiths Falls. There’s sure to be more stories like this to come,” Miller said.