Round Rock facility open nearly 40 years
On July 15, Dr. Wade McLeod's animal clinic will have stood on North Mays Street for 39 years. When he first opened, he was the only veterinarian in town. Now he estimates more than 30 of his peers provide services in Round Rock, but he said he has a few basic principles that have kept his business going strong despite the competition.
"So much of it you just learn as you go," he said. "I do know this: You not only have to be the best veterinarian you can, but it's a business. You have to be wise in your business decisions. I think that's how we started out—being careful."
McLeod, a 1969 graduate of the Texas A&M University veterinary program, had just finished a yearlong small-animal medicine internship at Cornell University when he decided to return to his native Texas and join his uncle's practice at Austin Animal Clinic.
Within three years, McLeod got the urge to start his own business. However, Austin already had about 25 practicing veterinarians. So in 1972, he decided he would move with his young family to the suburbs.
"We decided to come to Round Rock where there was no vet," he said. "We just thought it was a good opportunity."
Raised on a West Texas ranch near Sweetwater, McLeod had been familiar with big animals since childhood. He knew his practice would start by providing services mainly for horses, cows and sheep.
In March 1973, McLeod started building a simple, practical clinic, which was completed about three months later. He chose the north part of town, where his neighbors were a Western Auto and acres of fields. The back of his building had large pens to accommodate the large animals, and he could avoid being a noisy nuisance to the community.
McLeod remembers those first three years were a struggle. He said he expected to work hard because that is what it took to build a practice. The large-animal services were soon set aside for an emphasis on small pets, such as his own beloved dachshunds. Yet one aspect of his business has remained constant: He has tried to keep his costs to a minimum because that translates into savings for his customers, an aspect of his practice that he feels differentiates his clinic from many others.
"Being old-fashioned—I graduated in '69, 43 years ago—I operate a little bit differently, and there is a certain part of the public that likes that," he said.
His clinic is a no-frills building. Most of the equipment inside is practical. He said he does not spend money on things he does not use regularly, but can still provide 90 percent of the services his clients need.
In another attempt to minimize expenses, McLeod prefers a small staff. Along with two part-time veterinarians who assist him, Stephanie Weidler and Barbara Pennington work at the front desk. McLeod said he would never presume to tell younger veterinarians how to operate their clinics, but for him, less has often proven more.
"I think in the end, you come out with a lot less headaches and make about the same money as the clinic that tries to be really big," he said.
McLeod Animal Clinic, 2019 N. Mays St., Round Rock, 255-2547, www.mcleodanimalclinic.com