Most pet owners, I among them, put their veterinarians on a pedestal. Is there any nobler work than being able to deduce what's wrong with your furriest family member who can't say ahhh, or where it hurts, or why she's suddenly favoring her right hind leg? Veterinarians have a gift, borne of equal parts intelligence and compassion.
I'm always so grateful and relieved our veterinarian can figure out what's wrong with our two cats and prescribe the right treatment that I rarely think of her practice as a business. But a business it is, part of the county's growing, $51 billion pet industry.
And Maine, Portland specifically, is poised as a major presence courtesy of a growing pet pharmaceutical cluster, as Contributing Writer Whit Richardson points out in his cover story, "Pet cause." Innovations in pet health care have been coming from Idexx Laboratories for many years, but relative newcomers Putney Inc., makers of generic pet medications, and pet pharmaceutical suppliers and service providers Direct Vet Marketing and VetEnvoy are making themselves known as well, courtesy of millions in investment capital into their companies. If you doubt the growth potential in this cluster, consider this: In 2010, the more than 70 million American pet owners spent just under $24 billion on vet care and over-the-counter medication; in 2011, that figure exceeded $26 billion, according to statistics from the American Pet Products Association.
Other Maine-based businesses are also poised for growth, as Contributing Writer Douglas Rooks examines in his profile of Kennebec Technologies, "Honing its future," starting on the cover and part of this issue's focus on technology. After investing $2 million in expansions and technology upgrades, the precision manufacturer is driving into new markets. (For more news on manufacturing, check out "Making news," our Q&A with Lisa Martin, head of the Manufacturers Association of Maine, on page 3.) Online Editor Mindy Woerter brings us up to speed on a new effort to revive relationships among Maine technology companies following the demise of TechMaine, in "Reconnecting," starting on page 20, and Contributing Writer Matt Dodge takes us through a primer on mobile app services in "App appeal," starting on page 22.
Looking ahead, make sure you pencil us in the morning of April 12 for the Mainebiz Women to Watch Leadership Forum at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport. Three dynamic women leaders — Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority; Susan Corbett, CEO of Axiom Technologies; and Colleen Hilton, mayor of Westbrook and CEO of VNA Home Health & Hospice — share their insights on handling controversy when you're the chief executive. It's a discussion we're calling "Grace under fire" and it will be fabulous. Register at mainebiz.biz/womentowatchforum.
I bet all our panelists would choose the hot seat over a pedestal.