Coastal Veterinary Hospital and Pet Resort celebrate a milestone this month as it marks thirty years of business as a local, family-owned, and independently operated business in Jacksonville.
Although the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic brought many unforeseeable obstacles, CEO and Founder Dr. Axel Gray worked to diligently ensure the entire staff and their families were safe and remained fully employed, while continuing to provide the best care for the community's companion pets.
"In these days, when there's a lot of consolidation and corporate buyouts of veterinary hospitals, we are very proud to be family owned and independently operated," said Dr. Gray. "We've enjoyed serving our clients and treating their four-legged babies across three generations now. It's rewarding to see our clients' children grow up and get pets of their own and then bring them to us. The family has always been at the center of our business."
In 1990, Dr. Gray and his wife Becky opened the doors to Coastal Veterinary Hospital in the Intracoastal west area of Beach Boulevard. People originally thought they were crazy because there was nothing there but pine trees and a few strip centers. However, over time, neighborhoods and businesses began to develop and Dr. Gray decided it was time to expand. Going from 3 employees in a 4,000-square-foot hospital to a 14,000-square-foot facility encompassing the hospital, pet resort, and dog daycare in 2008 was no small feat. Coastal added the new daycare annex building in 2012 with more than 12 different play yards. Coastal now operates on 3 ½ acres of land as the indoor facilities expanded to 24,000 square feet.
While COVID-19 spread and businesses were facing government restrictions, there were more than 90 employees looking to Dr. Gray for answers. March 2020 was Coastal's best month in business, however, revenue from the business dropped as the pandemic continued and people canceled their appointments, boarding, and daycare reservations. "Although business was down 30%, we maintained a full staff by cross-training employees," said Practice Manager Shannon Cribb. "We had them cleaning, maintaining sterilization, painting, pressure washing, landscaping; really just anything to keep them working so they could continue to support their families."
Dr. Gray attributes the success of Coastal to its founding belief that still holds true today: treat people how you would want to be treated. When going through the hiring process, the employees understand that they are joining a family when they come to work at Coastal. Although the animals are the center of attention when it comes to providing compassionate care, the staff never forgets to take care of the pet owners as well. Whether it's taking the extra time to provide health-related educational opportunities for clients, sending pictures of their pet's stay while they're away, supporting and guiding them through the tough decisions, following up to ensure the pet's overall wellness, or making a donation in memory of their beloved companion, Coastal cares for both the pet and their owner.
"My wife and I have raised our two kids at Coastal. Many of our staff have remained with us since the early days and watched them grow up over the years," said Dr. Gray. "I want to thank them for teaching our kids the importance of hard work, compassionate care, and dedication as they worked alongside them; that's what it's all about." Eight of Coastal's staff members have also gone on to veterinary school.
Looking forward, Dr. Gray hopes that business will soon return to normal as the state reopens and is extremely grateful for all the support they've received during these uncertain times. While the community adjusts to the new normal that's derived from the effects of the pandemic, the staff at Coastal look forward to serving all of their furry friends and celebrating 30 years in business.