No Strangers Here: Penn Veterinary Supply’s Becky Oldfield
Whether it’s managing a veterinary clinic or helping customers solve today’s challenges, Penn Veterinary Supply’s Becky Oldfield has always embraced the relational bonds formed in her work in the industry.
Veterinary medicine has been a family affair for as long as Becky Oldfield can remember. Oldfield was born in England but moved to Florida when she was 2 years old. She grew up and has lived in Apopka, Florida, ever since. From the age of 5, Oldfield worked in her stepfather’s veterinary practice. “I was answering phones by the age of 6 years old, scheduling appointments,” she said. “I worked my way through every position of the hospital as I felt it would best help me to understand the importance of every role to have a smooth, enjoyable workflow for all the staff.”
By 17 years old, Oldfield was managing two of her parents’ veterinary practices. Meanwhile, she attended Valencia Community College where she received her technical certificate in event planning. It was in the role of managing the family veterinary practices that she met Steve Denhardt, Penn Veterinary Supply’s current associate sales director, who at the time was their practice’s distributor rep. After striking up a friendship, Oldfield realized that she was intrigued by the sales side of the animal health industry.
“I never would have pictured myself in sales, but I realized I was already in sales day in, day out by explaining to clients their estimates and getting them scheduled for procedures,” she said. “I started with Penn Vet on Feb. 3, 2014. I was in my 20s, and I believe I was the youngest ever rep at this time.”
Oldfield said it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing she loves most about her job because there are many things she’s grateful for. “For starters, I love meeting new people,” she said. “I believe there are no strangers here; only friends we haven’t met yet. I love hearing my customers share stories of saving lives and why they do what they do. Seeing with my own eyes new clinics start-up and grow to be successful is very rewarding. I am honored when they turn to me for advice to share my experience and help them with their challenges.”
In the customer’s shoes
COVID affected Oldfield as it has everyone, she said. “I have many friends in different businesses and to hear everyone’s story is moving. It trickles down to every moving part in a business.”
With two young children and her husband sheltering in place amid the pandemic, the whole family had to learn to adapt. Oldfield’s daughter had virtual school while Oldfield tried to find a quiet work area to maintain constant communication with her customers and discover how best to be of assistance. The days seemed longer than normal. “Isolating our family was tough as we are social butterflies and I missed the in-personal interaction with my clinics.”
For her customers, Oldfield said she knew she had to offer help in any way she could from the start. Remembering how hard it can be running a practice under normal circumstances, hearing her customers’ challenges from keeping up with cleaning, communication, curbside, staff shortages, product shortages/allocations and illness at the clinics was heart-wrenching, she said. “I could put myself in their shoes knowing the extra strain that would impact their workdays.”
What the future holds
Oldfield said that clinics are unsure what the future holds, how it might change their way of operating permanently and adapting to the “new norm.” She said she is seeing signs of clinics starting to open their horizons and looking into offering telemedicine to continue to respect the health, safety, and concerns of their clients moving forward.
“Some are looking at offering more compounded meds to help with the supply chain impacts and many veterinarians are encouraging their clients to think about a full year’s supply of common pet products; preventives, shampoos, dental products, etc.,” she said. “I believe every veterinarian should at least look into offering telemedicine. Most are doing some sort by texting or video calling with some clients and they should understand they deserve to be paid for their valued time. With online purchases growing rapidly and the country settling into a new stay-at-home comfort level, I believe telemedicine is a great option to ensure to provide a high level of care and support.”