How one Maine company is providing low-cost, quality medication to petsâ€"and the veterinarians who treat them
"When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a veterinarian," says Jean Hoffman, founder of Putney.
As applications for the 2011 Inc. 500 | 5000 arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. (For more information and to apply, go to http://www.inc.com/inc5000apply/2011/index.html). One that caught our eye was Portland, Maine-based Putney.
If you've taken your pet to the vet recently, you know how expensive your little pup's pills can be. But what if there was a generic alternative? That's where Putney comes in, a pharmaceutical company specializing in the development of high quality drugs for pets, with an emphasis on lower costs.
Part businesswoman, part animal lover, Putney's CEO Jean Hoffman founded Putney in 2006, two years after the sale of her first company, Newport Strategies, which provided competitive intelligence for the pharmaceutical industry. One afternoon, while taking her adopted cat Dude to the vet, Hoffman had a couple of realizations. First, pet medications were prohibitively high for many people. And second, this created a niche market for a business that sold generic pet medications.
'Many people are not able to afford to treat their pets, especially for chronic diseases like arthritis,' Hoffman says. 'And so I wanted to bring the benefits of lower cost generic drugs to veterinarians.'
The company, which launched its first product in 2007, has enjoyed a 58 percent compound annual growth rate over the last year, with $9.5 million in revenue in 2010. But Hoffman believes that this growth spurt is poised for an all out explosion. 'We're growing fast organically, but the real growth hasn't even begun yet,' Hoffman says.
While human generic medicines occupy a large share of the pharmaceutical market, there are relatively very few generic medications for pets. By bringing generic drugs to the veterinarians, Putney enables doctors to offer discounts to pet owners, Hoffman says. It also allows them to keep the pet patients in their practice—and grow their revenues by treating more pets.
While Hoffman credits much of her success with Putney to the long-term relationships she's developed with her partners in the pharmaceutical industry, she notes that the business's real success came out of something a bit less tangible. "I love animals," she says. "And it's my connection to the people who love animals, too."