Interview with Jim Martin, founder of ValuVet

Who started ValuVet?

Where and how did it all start?

We thought it might be a good idea to go back to the beginning. We were lucky that ValuVet’s founder, Dr Jim Martin, agreed to come out of retirement (at 86 years old) to be interviewed about his career and to tell us about the early years of ValuVet. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about your career

I graduated in 1962 and was bonded to the QLD govt for 5 years. They sent me to Charleville, where I was the only vet for most of the time. I loved it, but when I was done, I wanted to go into private practice. I moved to Coonabarabran for 3 years, then set up my own practice in Dubbo from 1971-1983. While I was there, the practice expanded at an exponential rate. I went from 85% large to 85% small animals.

In 1982 I put my practice on the market. I went to a bible college for 12 months after I sold. I moved to Sydney with my family and started assembling anaesthetic machines in my garage, so I sent out newsletters to vets telling them about it. Eventually I developed it into a business selling anaesthetic machines. I opened a factory in Sydney, and it kept growing. The company was called Easy Veterinary Equipment, we had a staff of 28. I bought in 2 partners and engineers. We expanded to use computerised machinery, and ended up getting into the medical market as well.

So, how did you go from selling machinery to valuing vet practices?

In 1996 I sold Easy Veterinary Equipment to my partners. I didn’t know what I would do next. I had been the largest manufacturer of veterinary equipment and I had great contacts from it. I wanted to maintain a close contact with the veterinary profession, I just loved it.

Then, by chance, that same year, a practice asked me to value their practice and I did. The people I did the report for were very happy with what I’d done, and from that I picked up some more clients. I started reading about Vet practice valuations in the US and I got an accountant to work with me.

I started sending out 6 newsletters a year in the mail and it quickly became a full-time job. After a few years I had to enlist the support of Tony Thelander to assist and, after another 4-5 years, had David MacPhail and finally Hugh White helping as well.

Over the 10-year period that I ran ValuVet, I performed in the vicinity of 500 practice appraisals.

That is how ValuVet got started. The whole thing was an accident, it all just happened.

ValuVet seems to have always been run by vets (first you, then Tony Thelander and now Paolo and Anne Lencione). Do you think being a vet gave you an advantage or extra insight into vet practices when you were valuing them?

I did feel that having run large and small animal practices myself and having experienced some of the stresses of a busy practice helped me, as a vet, identify with many of the reasons why vets had their practices valued, and appreciate which factors contributed most to practice value.

When did you retire?

In 2006, I turned 70. I had started working less, but eventually at 70 I was too tired and stopped. I said to Tony Thelander, “either you buy it or I will put it on the open market”. I helped for a little while afterwards.

How did you fill your time after retirement?

I went to live in Queenstown at our place there for 6 months of the year, we loved it. I would have retired there, but my wife had health issues and we needed the professional help in Sydney. We then moved to Orange in NSW and we love it here. We have been here for 10 years. I grow roses, fruit trees, it’s amazing.

I got more involved with my church over the years; we run Alpha courses, about the Christian faith. I completely left the veterinary world behind, except I play golf with a few vets 3 times a week. We have a beautiful golf course in Orange. I am 86 this year, the golf keeps me fit and alive.