As a young child, Dr. Laura Wade always had several "pocket pets" -- hamsters, gerbils, ferrets and the like. "I always liked different species when I was little," she said, "and when I was in college training to be a veterinarian, I thought I’d specialize in birds." But, following her residency, when she worked with all kinds of exotic pets, she knew that a career specializing in pets that were a little bit different than the typical household pet was for her. "I wanted to focus on exotics because there are so few vets that treat them," she said.
For five years, Wade worked out of leased space in another vet’s practice in Lancaster, N.Y., but had a dream of opening her own specialty practice. A vacant building on the three-acre property where her home is located seemed like the ideal location. Then, at a local chamber of commerce luncheon, she was introduced to someone from the local IDA. That meeting led her to Rich Rogers of The Bank of Akron and, ultimately, to Mike Taylor of NYBDC.
"The Bank of Akron is always looking for opportunities to help small businesses expand. Dr. Laura Wade's project presented a perfect opportunity for the bank to help her turn her dream into reality," said Rogers.
"We were approached by Rich Rogers on this project due, in part, to the unique aspects of the subject property," said Taylor. "Dr. Wade desired to construct a new practice on the same parcel on which she and her husband resided. This would not qualify as a residential mortgage project, but the equity in the property was not sufficient to underwrite it as a conventional commercial mortgage either. The solution was to use the equity in the property as part of the equity for a 504 project."
The project, which involved a $156,000 504 loan from Empire State CDC: The 504 Company, required the demolition of the previously vacant building on the property and the construction of a 2,841-square-foot, two-story building for the veterinary practice. According to Taylor, the town of Clarence, where the practice is located, was so pleased by the conversion of the vacant building into an appealing business that it presented Dr. Wade with an award for the project.
Less than a year and a half after the new practice opened, Wade said she has been very busy, as the only specialty veterinary office in Western New York. Her patient load is about 50 percent birds, including parrots, parakeets and the occasional chicken or duck, and about 30 percent rabbits. She also treats snakes, small animals and even had a puffer fish as a patient, too. She doesn’t treat dogs or cats; her focus is on providing diagnosis and treatment of exotic pets and performing special procedures that other vets may be reluctant to perform.
Wade employs two full-time and two part-time technicians and an office manager. Another veterinarian works at the practice two days a week and on some Saturdays. She has her sights set on expanding her hours, including adding some evening hours, and hopes one day to be able to take on an intern and a resident as well to give other students the ability to have the same experience with exotic pets as she had.