Understanding the Needs of Animals
MWI’s Austin Zimmerman has held various roles serving the animal health community, giving him a unique perspective of a veterinary practice’s needs.
Austin Zimmerman’s interest in animals began at an early age. His father was a farrier by trade, so Zimmerman was around large animals, specifically racehorses. Zimmerman said his father instilled a strong work ethic in him with a daily routine that involved taking care of the animals on the farm.
“My dad gave me a lot of good direction and a solid foundation with feeding, cleaning pens, exercising horses, grooming horses, and even putting shoes on horses to understand how that works,” he said. “It really instilled an understanding of the needs of animals, and when you take on the responsibility of an animal, those needs come before your own a lot of times.”
Zimmerman has put that work ethic into action throughout his education and career, now serving MWI accounts in the West region.
First steps into the industry
Throughout high school, Zimmerman was an active member of the FFA program and had an advisor who encouraged him to pursue a career in animal science. When Zimmerman was 16 years old, he got a job at a local veterinary hospital. He started with basic duties and clean-up jobs, then worked his way into more responsibilities at the practice. At Southern Utah University, Zimmerman majored in agricultural business and management.
One summer in college, Zimmerman worked as an intern with MWI’s e-commerce team. “That was a great summer to be able to learn how big of an impact that animals make on our economy,” he said. “I learned different approaches to different problems from the territory managers. It established a network of people that I could trust and have helped me.”
The program springboarded Zimmerman’s interest to ultimately secure a long-term position within the animal health industry when he graduated. Following graduation, MWI hired Zimmerman as a territory manager.
While Zimmerman learned the ins and outs of managing a territory, he already had a built-in sense of his veterinary practice customers’ day-to-day workflow. That knowledge and having a grasp of their challenges helped shape how Zimmerman approached his job. “If reps only had the animal health industry side of the experience, the perspective might be that every animal goes out the door with the right medicines, everybody pays for diagnostics to be run on their pets, and everybody gets dentals and does everything they need to at the veterinary hospital,” Zimmerman said. “But learning the struggles of what happens in a veterinary practice helped me to understand how to help my customers succeed and to utilize the tools so that they don’t continue to have the same challenges over and over again. We can bring full solutions that MWI has to the table, and it definitely makes an impact.”
Zimmerman spent three and a half years calling on customers in Northern California. The next three and a half years, he spent in Phoenix, Arizona. While the events of the pandemic have certainly altered in-person visits and the way reps communicate with their clients, “meeting our customers’ needs has not changed,” he said. “It’s just taken on a new form.” That new form includes tools and resources such as SnoutID with its digital check-in capabilities, ALLYDVM for customer communications, and Petriage with its telehealth services.
“As we look forward to 2021, I’ve actually started to go back into the field a little bit and see customers face to face,” Zimmerman said. “It’s really refreshing to see people face to face, to see how they’ve adjusted to the challenges in person, and be able to witness the transformations that they’ve made.
Recently, Zimmerman transitioned to the role of key account manager. He’ll be working alongside territory managers calling on multidoctor and multisite practices throughout the entire region. “MWI leadership saw a need to service veterinarians who have multiple locations and multiple doctors in a practice,” he said. “With that comes different needs than a single-doctor, single-practice location.”
Zimmerman said he’s excited about the incredible momentum the industry continues to have. “The focus on pets has never been bigger … We’re going to continue to see innovations with our manufacturer partners, we’re going to continue to create strong bonds between humans and animals. Year over year, we as an industry are growing leaps and bounds. We’re positioned really well to continue making strides for healthier futures.”