Diversity aids Modesto animal goods firm

Veterinary Service Inc. of Modesto supplies animal health products, not a bad idea in a state with so many dairy cows, poultry birds and pets.

The business tends to be resistant to recession, president and chief executive officer John Scheuber said, but not always.

Dairy farmers have suffered from low milk prices for nearly a year and a half. People still drink the stuff, but the recession sapped what had been a promising export market for dairy products.

Scheuber said the 50-year-old company benefits from its diversity. It started by serving chicken, turkey and egg farmers and later added dairy farmers and retailers of pet supplies.

Staffing has held steady during the downturn. VSI employs about 210 people in California and Oregon , including 30 in Modesto.

Scheuber said the company has responded to the dairy crisis by letting these customers stretch out their payments.

"We have found that if we help the dairymen through the downturn, they are going to be our longtime customer," he said.

His advice for other business people: "You have got to stay focused on what your goal is. Know that every cycle has a positive side."

-- John Holland

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