Pet not feeling well? Dr. Jennifer Cicali gives you two options: You can schedule to come into the Borealis Veterinary Clinic on Knik Goose Bay Road or she will come to see you in her modified utility van. The utility van, lovingly nicknamed “Betty White”, has everything a vet on the road needs: oxygen tanks, an anesthesia machine, a dental sink that doubles as a surgical table, kennels in case patients need to be placed on observation, and plenty of storage for the kinds of supplies to keep your pet healthy.
Dr. Cicali purchased the van from a retiring vet in Trapper Creek and added the brick-and-mortar clinic location in Wasilla. Most days, she is out on the road in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, visiting homeowners who are elderly or may have concerns or complications about traveling with their pets. There is a lot of pride in a small practice that allows Dr. Cicali and her staff to know their clients well and have intimate conversations about their pet’s health. The mobile clinic has allowed Dr. Cicali to keep the cost of services relatively low due to lower overhead.
About a year ago, Dr. Cicali reached out to the Alaska Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and met Business Advisor Trisha Sims who helped pave the path toward small business ownership. They worked from various start-up questions, fine-tuning the business plan and financial projections, and business structuring. Ultimately, Dr. Cicali was able to create a business plan centered around the idea of affordable veterinary care and quickly received funding from a receptive lender. Dr. Cicali utilized other countless Alaska SBDC resources like on-demand workshops, SBDC-created tools, and a list of professional referrals to various small business support services.
“Trisha was a huge help to us! We were floundering in the sea of business plans, business formats/partnerships, etc. She hosted a very informative, helpful meeting with us in which we determined we would best be suited as an LLC. Additionally, she went through all of the resources available on the AK-SBDC website, including contracts for legal services, accountants, etc. We could not have taken such big steps forward without her help!”
Future plans for the Borealis Veterinary Clinic include hiring additional staff to help with the high demand for veterinary care. Dr. Cicali is also considering a better location that could include a lobby, rooms to stage clients, a comfort room (for difficult situations and conversations), and space for equipment that could help support the business, like radiology equipment. With any changes to the business, Dr. Cicali wants to keep the MatSu community as a primary focus. She wants to keep the utility van “Betty White” on the road, making house calls and plans to host vaccine clinics in strategic locations.