Veterinarian Seeks Bigger Paw Print in Neighborhood.
Dr. Aaron Stohs has only been in Martin City for a few months and he’s already expanding his vision for Martin City Animal Hospital. Stohs sees possibilities everywhere, from the design of the building to the growing community surrounding it. “The hospital has been an important part of Martin City for decades. I look forward to building on its reputation and contributing to a special neighborhood on the upswing.”
Stohs took over in December and immediately went to work fixing up the place, getting to know customers, and sending a clear message that Martin City Animal Hospital is accepting new patients. “We’re always ready to help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call,” says Stohs. “We’ll make room for your pet and we’ll do whatever it takes to provide the best care.”
A year into the pandemic, you still see hospital staff streaming in and out of the front door, carrying pets back and forth, and advising owners through car windows. Meanwhile, there’s more than medical work going on inside. Stohs is busy making improvements ranging from fresh paint to better lighting and the addition of new equipment.
“I think a first impression is really important so that’s where we’re focusing first,” says Stohs, walking through the building, pointing out progress. “We want our lobby and check-in area to be very welcoming. That’s a priority. We’re also making changes to make better use of the entire space. We want more work areas for our team and a better flow throughout the building, which I just love. It’s very unique.”
It certainly is. The Martin City Animal Hospital building has a triangular pie shape matching the section of land it sits on, along the historic train tracks through the heart of our community. As trains chug by, Stohs ponders his location near The Sharper Edge and across the street from Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse. He sees a chance to do more with what he already has to work with, and he’s prepared to make the building bigger as his practice grows. After all, his friend and former Martin City Animal Hospital owner, Dr. Libby Robertson, left him with nothing but potential.
“I’m honored that Dr. Libby thought of me when she decided to sell the hospital and focus her career on her love of science at a diagnostics services company. We’ve known each other since 2004 when we both came out of vet school. She trusted me to take over and take care of the staff she carefully put together. That’s what I’ve done and we’re continuing the high-quality work she was known for.”
When you meet Dr. Stohs, you can immediately tell he loves life at the hospital. He’s in constant conversation with staff and customers, connecting on everything from pet health to kids and family. He’s high-energy, proactive, and positive at all costs. You see smiles when you walk through the hospital. Workers are cheerful and the love of furry patients is everywhere. Stohs says he’s devoted to a company culture that keeps everyone involved feeling good. There’s no room for negativity here.
“If you’re compassionate and enjoy the work we’re doing, you will be successful. We’ll all be successful. I have no doubt. Martin City Animal Hospital will thrive because people enjoy working here and bringing their pets here. My goal is to help it thrive like never before.”
An Independent Practice Grows Up in Small Towns
Martin City Animal Hospital is recognized as a top-notch general practice and Stohs is expanding it in just about every direction. After only a few months, he’s made the practice far more robust including a greater emphasis on surgeries, dental work, advanced reproductive services, and even chiropractic care. There are X-ray machines, high-end anesthetic equipment, blood analysis technology, and ultrasound that reveal a quick, clear peek inside patients. When it comes to investing in his practice, Stohs doesn’t hold back.
“I put so much of our revenue right back into our work. Shaping a robust practice is important to me. I want to be in a position of being able to tackle just about any challenge that comes through the door. That’s what I’m known for and why I think pet owners stick with me.”
Martin City Animal Hospital fits into Stohs’ larger business, a string of veterinary clinics that straddles the state line south of the Kansas City metro area. His location in rural Drexel, Missouri came first in 2007 where large animal care involving horses and cows is a bigger part of the picture. Stohs’ clinic in Louisburg, Kansas came next in 2015 and he opened in nearby Paola just two years later.
“I’m a small-town guy,” says Stohs with distinct pride while adjusting his cap. “I enjoy being part of communities where people pull together and rely on each other. I really didn’t have an interest in doing business in Kansas City because it’s just too big and not my style. But I discovered that Martin City is different. It’s like a small town oasis on the edge of all the big city energy. I wouldn’t have believed this was possible a year ago, but now I’m fitting right in.”
Stohs takes very little personal credit for the rise of his success. His wife, Kelly, is an established Kansas City lawyer, and he counts on her for key support on the business side of things. His clinics revolve around a growing team of veterinarians, and his operating staff is largely made up of hand-picked friends put in positions matched to their strengths. It’s no secret that Stohs has quite an eye for talent across the board and he’s eager to take care of everyone he hires.
“A big reason why I’m growing my business is to give more support to the people who make it successful. I want to create more opportunities for my staff to do what they love, and I want to take care of them with benefits they value, like flexibility and more time off.”
Stohs has built a roster of around 50 employees so far and that number keeps ticking up. They come from a variety of backgrounds and it’s not uncommon for him to attract workers from larger, corporate veterinary chains. At the heart of it all is a collaborative group of ten veterinarians with diverse expertise and experience. Stohs wants you to know that working directly with him shouldn’t be a pet owner’s priority. He says care from any of his vets means plugging into what they all have to offer collectively.
“We’re all closely connected day-to-day. We’re in constant communication and we use software that allows us to easily share information and analyze things together. If a vet is dealing with an unusual or complicated case, they can get perspectives from the rest of the team fast. So when you work with one of us, you’re really working with all of us. We rarely refer patients outside of our business because we have a lot of combined knowledge and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes for each patient.”
A Healthy Place for a Prairie Doctor
Stohs is a familiar neighbor in Drexel, Louisburg, and Paola, but his actual hometown is Marysville, Kansas, north of Manhattan near the Nebraska border. His family’s roots in that area go back more than 140 years, so it’s no surprise that he loves few things more than the wide-open countryside, cooking over an open fire, hunting, fishing, and all the other treasures of rural life. He now lives in Louisburg with Kelly and their three children and counts on the rest of his family for guidance and support as he grows his business.
And the business is, in fact, growing. Stohs saw revenue jump 20-percent in 2020 despite the pandemic. At a time when so many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, he can’t find enough help and is constantly looking to add staff. That challenge won’t get any easier with the addition of a new hospital, but he’s not deterred.
“You know I have my hands full and wasn’t looking to expand until Martin City Animal Hospital came along. And now I’m re-energized and inspired by what we can do here. There’s a huge demand for care and I can be part of Kansas City without giving up my love of small communities thanks to the unique personality of Martin City.”
Do you love your drive to work? Stohs eyes light up when he talks about his trip to Martin City from Louisburg. “Oh, it’s just great. I love it. I might see deer along the way and it’s really amazing to me how many people I see walking their dogs. They’re all over!”
Stohs also loves the history of our community and the enduring character of the businesses here. He welcomes the way we rub shoulders, pitch in and help out. “You’ve got a lot of diversity in a small area too. I might treat a doctor’s dog one day and a teacher’s or a police officer’s pet the next. It’s a town within a city. That’s what this neighborhood feels like to me and if it wasn’t that way, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
But he does have one complaint. Jess & Jim’s, Jack Stack, and Martin City Brewing Company are so good — maybe a little too good. “I need bigger pants!,” says Stohs with a giggle, patting his belt. “I’ve got to stop eating like this. Or at least take a break. But it’s so hard to resist when it’s all just a short walk away!”
Yeah, we know what you mean, Dr. Stohs. Good luck resisting. If you can do it, you may be the first! We wish you and your team all the best as you unleash an exciting new chapter at Martin City Hospital.