WOOLWICH TWP. — We’re all familiar with the idea of the “American Dream”, but today I want to talk about how my Mom and Dad achieved the “Swedesboro Dream” when they opened Swedesboro Animal Hospital in March of 1986.
They took a chance in a small town, opened a business in South Jersey where Dad grew up, and then helped it grow over time. The struggles they faced along the way to achieve their dream are the same ones so many others have faced in starting and growing their own businesses here in Swedesboro/Woolwich.
Over 30 years, Swedesboro Animal Hospital has grown right alongside our town. When Mom and Dad first opened the doors to Swedesboro Animal Hospital, they rented out a tiny, run down tv repair shop in the center of a really tiny town. They had no paid employees, because they couldn’t afford any.
All their initial equipment was purchased for less than $100 at a human hospital that had gone out of business. Our town was so small back then, the town barber wouldn’t let Dad pay for his haircuts because, he told Dad, “Son, you’re going to need all the money you can keep in your pockets.”
Today, 30 years later, both our town and Swedesboro Animal Hospital have grown together in a remarkably symbiotic relationship. The hospital has become one of the great veterinary practices in America, even earning a Top 2 finish in 2012 for North America Practice of the Year by the American Animal Hospital Association.
In that same time period, our town has grown as well. Our community has transformed into a wonderful place that is animated by a quaint, diverse character and a growing population.
Perhaps most importantly, though, both the animal hospital and our town have maintained the elements of family and culture that made them special from the first days until now.
My siblings and I grew up in Dad’s hospital. In the early days, Dad would pay us one quarter for every newspaper we could collect, unfold and stack for use in the bottom of patient kennels at the hospital. Each Friday, he would take us to the bank so that we could learn how to make deposits, which were never more than a couple dollars a week.
At the end of each year, he would take one of us to Disney, where we could spend only the money we earned that year, one quarter at a time, one day at a time.
Dad always calls Swedesboro Animal Hospital the achievement of his dream. Well, our family grew up in his hospital, and his hospital grew up in our town. The “Swedesboro Dream” defines us to this very day.
Dad, happy 30th Anniversary of Swedesboro Animal Hospital. We’re grateful and proud.