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by Emily Dickson

Iron Sharpens Iron: Behind the Scenes with Dr. Rob Franklin

Iron Sharpens Iron: Behind the Scenes with Dr. Rob Franklin

Dr. Rob Franklin

If you’ve ever exchanged emails with Dr. Rob Franklin of FullBucket Health, you know that his signature line states “iron sharpens iron,” and perhaps that is the best explanation for how Dr. Franklin manages all of his different responsibilities in the animal health industry. 

With a long list of professional commitments, such as to his veterinary clinic in Fredericksburg, TX to his dog, cat and equine digestive supplement company, FullBucket Health, to serving as an officer  (soon-to-be President in December 2022) of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and his personal roles as husband and father to two girls, Dr. Franklin is a busy man.

So what motivates the man to keep going? 

We set out to get personal with the man behind the name and here’s what we learned about the one and only Dr. Rob Franklin. 

Begin with the end in mind

Franklin was raised in a small town in Texas hill country and knew he wanted to be a vet after spending a summer in Cody, Wyoming. 

In his words, “I was working with horses that summer and was inspired by a vet I had met. That’s the life-changing moment when I knew that I also wanted to become a vet, regardless of the long path that would require.” 

Franklin graduated from Texas A&M’s veterinary school in 1999, interned at a private practice in California and completed a residency program at the University of Florida before moving to rural Victoria, Australia for 2 years to practice equine veterinary medicine.

He credits his time in Australia to inspiring his future endeavors, although he did not see the full picture at that time.

“Practicing medicine in another country opened my eyes to other cultures and taught me about the needs of animals around the world.” 

Upon coming back to the states, Franklin spent 3 years at the Equine Medical Center in Ocala, Florida before moving back to his home state of Texas.

In Texas, Franklin spent 5 years at Weatherford Equine before establishing his own practice and consultancy business in Fredericksburg. 

Throughout his career, Dr. Franklin’s specialty became internal medicine, specifically neonatal foal care and he built 3 specialized facilities and foal ICUs before starting his own practice. 

A need for equine probiotic solutions

Franklin started FullBucket Health in the mid-2000s with his vet school roommate and college fraternity brother, Dr. Keith Latson. 

“Keith was practicing equine orthopedic surgery in California and he called me one day to pick my brain about what options he had for stopping antibiotic-related diarrhea in some of his cases. I mentioned that there was some advancement in the science of using probiotics but it was very difficult to administer to horses at that time. We were using human capsules, which was obviously impractical. That was the impetus for us to start creating an equine probiotic paste.” 

Both Latson and Franklin were also curious about the entrepreneurial lifestyle and wanted to put some of their creative energy into a business.

“Keith and I had known each other for a long time and we both had a strong entrepreneurial desire. We feel fortunate to have been able to walk that journey together.”  

Connecting the dots

The two veterinarians worked together to establish the FullBucket Health line of digestive supplements for horses, dogs and cats. 

They were seeing some success and realized that they needed to do more. 

Inspired by the travel they had both experienced with their careers, Franklin and Latson developed the FullBucket One-4-One Programs - the first of its kind in animal healthcare.

The FullBucket mantra of “Be Good and Do Good” is brought to life daily in the One-4-One giving program. For every serving of FullBucket sold in the U.S., they provide custom nutritional support to help working equids (horses, donkeys and mules) in developing countries. 

In developing countries, working equids are not companion animals or used for games; These are animals that are crucial to everyday work and life. 

They are the original “essential workers,” helping transport people and hauling food, water, firewood and other materials needed for daily life. 

“These animals are so important to these families that they would not be able to survive without them. A replacement animal might cost an entire year’s wages. We can help through education and a better understanding about nutrition that can extend the animal’s life comfortably by several years,” says Dr. Franklin.

FullBucket has created a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind “Equitarian” program. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Franklin and Latson partner with veterinary universities in the countries to determine specific nutritional deficiencies that are common in these areas.
  • Using those analyses, they work with manufacturers in that country to develop a palatable nutritional supplement designed to meet the needs of those animals as well as provide jobs.
  • This custom supplement is the One-4-One product and is distributed to animals in need by a group of veterinary volunteers recruited from the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala, who work with local students and veterinarians to distribute nutritional help, perform medical procedures and educate horse owners about the importance of healthcare.

Dr. Rob Franklin Giving Back

Giving back to the veterinary community 

Dr. Franklin’s philanthropy does not end with the innovative business philanthropic programs. 

Throughout his career, Franklin served as board member for the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners and established the Texas Equine Veterinary Association to help share information and provide community amongst veterinary professionals.

In his newly appointed role as President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (in December of 2022), Franklin will continue to represent the veterinary profession and provide insights into the realities of the industry.

The AAEP is the largest professional organization of equine vets in the world, with over 9,000 members from 61 countries. 

The organization has three main goals:

  1. Provide continuing education and professional development for equine veterinarians.
  2. Share important aspects of the profession through research, case studies and clinical sciences.
  3. Serve as experts on the health and welfare of the horse.

“As an industry, we need to realize that veterinarians have chosen a difficult career path. From the long, 24/7 hours to the physical and mental stress to the high costs of time and money to become a vet in the first place, it is important that we create solutions and help support all of our vets, but especially young ones just entering the field.”

Franklin’s work with different communities and task forces at the AAEP, as well as his commitment to continuing education, will allow him to serve other veterinarians and give back to his profession.

What keeps him going?

Franklin’s motivation is twofold, both personal and professional. 

From a professional standpoint, his various roles, from practitioner to FullBucket co-owner and AAEP President overlap and allow him to work with his network in many different ways. 

“For example, being able to see firsthand the benefits of the FullBucket products in action in my practice every day is a very special thing to be able to witness.” 

Personally, Franklin’s family life gives him motivation to keep moving forward and reminds him of why he spends so much of his time giving back. 

“We focus on gratitude in our family. We are fortunate in so many ways- where we live, the opportunities available to us, our health, our family and friends, business partners and amazing animals at work and home. This daily recognition of what we have keeps us grounded, inspired to help others and instills a spirit of generosity in all aspects of our day-to-day lives..” 

As Franklin looks ahead, he is most excited about what has not yet transpired. 

“One of my favorite mantras is from the book of Proverbs: ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ Yes, I am a busy man, but I am honored and grateful to serve in so many ways each day. I do my best to focus on being the best version of myself each day and I surround myself with like-minded individuals who help me be better. In turn, I hold the same vision for my daily responsibilities. We always have something we can give to each other and that helps move the world forward.” 

 

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