Pathway Vet Alliance
Roger Davila doesn’t perform veterinary services, but he helps put pet owners at ease while their animal is being treated.
As the director of real estate and construction for Pathway Vet Alliance, he keeps both human and animal comfort in mind as he works. He knows people don’t want to bring their sick or injured pet to a place that looks run down or outdated.
Renovating or building new veterinary hospitals requires more than typical construction knowledge, though. In addition to sprucing up appearances, Davila also works closely with veterinarians to create spaces that are functional and work with medical equipment.
For this reason, the job is always exciting, he says. Knowing his work helps animals is a bonus.
“Each hospital and project has different needs, so I enjoy the challenge,” Davila says. “I get to work with people who are experts in different disciplines, and I get to understand their unique needs.”
Cleanup on aisle one
Pathway Vet Alliance, headquartered in Austin, Texas, acquires veterinary practices and provides them with operational support, tools and resources. It owns over 400 hospitals across the country. When the owner of a veterinary hospital sells to Pathway, the hospital retains its name and gains access to a large veterinary network which includes trainings, marketing resources and administrative support.
The company recently opened its first veterinary hospital not obtained through an acquisition. The practice, called Pet Specialists of Austin, provides emergency care, imaging services, surgery and oncology, and will soon offer internal medicine and neurology.
Pathway decided to build the new practice, which opened in January, because the hospital it already owned in Austin was too small, Davila says. That practice still operates as a general care facility, while Pet Specialists of Austin serves as a trauma center.
The 10,000-square-foot facility was formerly a grocery store, meaning Davila had to transform the space. The project, which took two years to complete, started with him sourcing the location and working with veterinarians on the design.
Making it a veterinary hospital required removing all the shelves and changing the layout. Most of the inside was painted white, ceramic tile flooring was put down and white stone countertops were installed in the reception area.
Davila says he wanted the space to be both modern and warm, so people have peace of mind when they come in.
“Austin has a lot of new builds and vet hospitals haven’t been keeping up,” he says. “Walking into a vet hospital that’s clean, modern and open is reassuring for the customer and lets them know they can trust us.”
Building the future
Building trust is crucial in everything Pathway does, Davila says.
From working with veterinary staff when their practice is acquired to creating a good environment for pets and their owners, it’s important to lead with care, he says. Whenever a new hospital is acquired, for instance, he works with staff to determine what renovations are needed. Some need construction while others are simpler.
“You’d be surprised at what a fresh coat of paint or new tiles can do for a place,” he says.
Davila says he’s constantly traveling from one project to another, spending a few days at each to oversee the work. Also, with Pathway now opening its own hospitals, he has been doing more location scouting.
Up next, he’ll start renovation on a hospital in Tampa, Florida. The practice will be getting new exam rooms and CT scan unit, as well as a mobile MRI unit. Eventually, Davila plans to redo its emergency room, too. He will also be working on Pathway’s first hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, and urgent care centers around the country.
Davila is also busy with an expansion project for THRIVE Affordable Vet Care. Pathway acquired THRIVE, which has a national presence, a few years ago, which is how he came to be with the company.
A leap of faith
Davila began working with THRIVE Affordable Vet Care in 2017 and was recruited to Pathway in January 2019 to lead the Pet Specialists of Austin project. At that point, he had experience building veterinary hospitals, as well as a background in real estate and construction.
After starting his career as a real estate agent, he worked as an estimator and project manager. He then spent three years as the senior construction manager at Snap Kitchen, a food retailer in Austin, before being approached by THRIVE.
“I didn’t know much about the industry or what it takes to build a hospital, but it sounded exciting and challenging,” Davila says. “It was a leap of faith, but it’s worked out great, and I get to work on projects from ideation to the finished product.”
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