Global Reach, Down-Home Service
Published on Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:05am
Global Reach, Down-Home Service
Article courtesy of International Veterinary Supplies
Alicia Jaime can’t help but beam when she talks about the future of her company, International Veterinary Supplies (IVS). Surrounded by stacks and shelves of boxes – some imprinted with pink baby cows drinking from bottles – Alicia, who immigrated to the United States from Argentina, explains that it’s hard work to be a business owner, but extremely rewarding and exciting. “Ten years ago, we would have never imagined this. It’s really the American dream. We work hard, because we know how hard dairy farmers work.”
Along with partners José Samaniego and Jorge Aponte, Alicia started IVS in 2015. All three have extensive backgrounds in the veterinary supply industry. Together, they took the leap of faith to start IVS, exporting veterinary supplies to countries around the world, including Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Central and South America, Japan, Dubai and several countries in Europe. And although they have a world-wide reach, they chose to locate their operation in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, in the heart of the Midwest.
“We all came from a large veterinary company based in Waukee, Iowa. We fell in love with the Midwest, the people and quality of life. When we decided to open our own Company the decision to locate our business in Iowa was easy. Iowa is our home”, said Alicia.
They weren’t alone when they took that leap. “When we made our decision to open IVS, Bankers Trust was the first company I called“ said Alicia. “I had already seen firsthand the way Bankers Trust was there to support the growth of another small company and I knew the bank’s employees were great team players.” Alicia and her partners were especially impressed by the Global Banking capabilities at Bankers Trust. “Bankers Trust is a local bank with the sophistication of a large, national bank. The difference is that the Bankers Trust international experts are right here in Des Moines.”
In just over two years, IVS has experienced impressive growth and is poised for expansion. Its warehouse is at capacity and Alicia, José and Jorge all share a cozy office space. It’s cozy, but they’re proud of what they’ve built.
When the three founders started IVS, they focused solely on international markets, which they knew well. Focusing on international markets has allowed IVS to sell U.S. manufactured products to international customers who might never have had the opportunity to purchase them otherwise, which has helped IVS to establish itself in the global market place as well as providing additional outlets to their U.S. suppliers.
Now, they are turning their attention on the domestic market. “It’s kind of funny, our bankers and business consultants from the Small Business Administration told us we did the hard part first — exporting. Most businesses focus on their domestic sales first and work their way into exporting. But, we had experience in the overseas markets so it seemed natural to us,” says Alicia.
With customers demanding a wider variety of products all the time, IVS has created partnerships with vendors throughout the Midwest and the U.S. to meet customer needs. Through these partnerships, IVS has given many smaller businesses a means to sell their products internationally and to grow their companies through increased export sales. “We export veterinary supplies overseas and really promote the American-made items,” Alicia said. Everything is shipped out of their Urbandale, Iowa warehouse. Each week, José receives items, does quality control, and ships to customers. Nothing leaves their facility without thorough inspection.
IVS provides a wide variety of supplies that some veterinarians don’t know exist. IVS is geared toward large animal veterinarians, but also provide services and supplies for small vet clinics and family-run farm operations. They also offer a consultative approach to help users make the best product decisions for their operation.
IVS partners with some of the most established and respected veterinary suppliers in the world, including Ketchum, LA-CO, Miller Manufacturing, Dr. Naylor, Stone Manufacturing, and Continental.
“Most important to our clients is that we do not require a minimum quantity. It’s our customer’s choice if he or she wants to buy, say, just two boxes of latex gloves, because we’ll ship just two boxes. They appreciate that,” said Jorge.
They have recently brought on a new staff member for their domestic sales force, as well as partnered with a marketing company to help them tell their story and reach more of the North American market.
“We knew we could offer better service than any other vet supply company. And, if you call our office, you speak with a real, live human being! We love to talk to our customers. In fact, some of them actually visit our office and warehouse when in town, even if it’s just to pick up a bottle of Udder Cream!”, said Alicia. “Another example of our service is our website. On it is a form customers can complete if they have questions or product inquiries. They appreciate that direct contact with IVS and information provided to them.”
Orders can be processed via phone, email or online. Currently, IVS is revamping their website to be even more user-friendly, with streamlined ordering and an individual personal account portal. A “short-cut” app will be available for a customer’s smart phone and tablet for even more convenience. “We realize that vet supplies is a commodities business. There are only a few ways to differentiate yourself: product selection, price, and service. We recognized from the beginning that in order to be successful, we’d need to be good at all three, but we really focused on the service aspect. And our customers agree. It’s something we never lose sight of”, says José.
Constantly evolving and adding new products to their inventory is one of the things that excites the team. “Our goal is to offer the best and most complete line of high-quality products, at affordable prices, and with service that can’t be beat. Working primarily on the export side of our business, I love to bring new American-made products online to overseas customers. They’re really happy with the quality and availability of these items”, says Jorgé.
IVS is also an advocate for small businesses and the dairy industry. Alicia regularly speaks to industry and related groups. IVS has been recognized as a leader in the field, and is helping the next generation of farmers compete and grow in their individual operations. The U.S. Small Business Administration has selected International Veterinary Supplies as the 2018 SBA Small Business Exporter of the Year for the state of Iowa and for SBA’s Region VII (which includes the Midwest states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska).
Exposure is increasing for the team, and they’re seeing more and more repeat business. “I think it’s due in part to our personal service philosophy, and in part to increased efforts to get in front of our customers, whether it’s online or in person,” says José. “We have really been making an effort to attend more trade shows. In particular, World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. This will be our second year at WDE. The people there are fantastic, from the attendees to the WDE staff. It’s not just a place to sell products, but an opportunity to build and foster relationships.” Alicia added, “We like to tell people, if you don’t see it in our catalog or on our website, just ask or call! We can provide any item in the veterinary industry. Get to know us, and you’ll find we’re your one-stop-shop for all your veterinary needs!”