“Charismatic,” “hard working,” “loyal” and “brave” are just a few characteristics used to describe Dr. Pierre-Richard Dick, founder of Virbac.
From his birth in Alsace in 1937, to his disappearance at sea in 1992, Pierre-Richard Dick led a life anything but ordinary.
A character of hardened steel
Pierre-Richard Dick’s extraordinary strength of character was rooted in his childhood. In 1940, after the loss of his father at just three years of age, his mother was forced to abandon the family home in Saverne, Alsace, under siege from German troops. She would raise her son alone, first in Dijon, then in Africa.
Life was difficult for the Dick family. But in the face of adversity, Pierre-Richard Dick built a foundation of values that would form a creed for his entire life. The Dicks lived simply, worked hard, met challenges and pulled together.
Entrepreneur and builder
In 1961, fresh out of veterinary school, the young doctor Pierre-Richard Dick completed his training by taking a course in microbiology at the Pasteur Institute. He acquired the knowledge that would guide him on the path to the first vaccines produced by Virbac.
At 26 years old, he joined Ronchese, the oldest biology laboratory in Nice, where he became research director. A brilliant career was in store for him at a laboratory with undisputed professionalism, but Dr. Dick had very different goals. An entrepreneur at heart, the young man had ideas to sell. He dreamed of creating his own laboratory in order to actively assist in the fight against animal diseases that were, at the time, hardly or poorly treated. Pierre-Richard Dick was and would remain a workaholic all his life. He slept very little, and he demonstrated an insatiable curiosity. He never stopped reading, researching, traveling, and meeting frequently with people, documenting all his observations and ideas in the small notebook that he always had with him.
Water and fire
The summer of 1965 marked the first encounter between Virbac founders Dr. Dick and Max Rombi, who owned a small veterinary clinic in Nice. Both future co-founders immediately formed a duo whose synergy would do wonders in making Virbac’s launch a reality. Their respective temperaments were vastly different; Rombi's eccentricity and frankness stood in stark contrast to the sobriety and stubbornness of his partner Dr. Dick. But what both partners had in common were boundless ideas and outstanding intuition.
After months of sharing ideas, it was a decision taken by Dr. Dick that would change everything; in the fall of 1967, he left the comfort of his position at Ronchese and made himself available to create a research laboratory.
Ambition and intuition: an explosive mix
Who could believe, in January 1968, that the modest laboratory created in a small three-room apartment in Nice would achieve, 50 years later, a 7th-place ranking in the world of veterinary products companies? Dr. Dick’s strategic choices were, in any case, visionary from the outset. As early as 1969, Virbac was focused, well before its competitors, on the companion animal market, even when food producing animals were still a dominant market. Under the leadership of Dr. Dick, pushing the limits of the only French market, the laboratory ventured abroad starting in the 70s. Third inspired choice: that of innovation driven by the tangible needs of veterinarians, far from the rationale of basic research that he had known up until then. The foundation for long-term success had been laid. A solid foundation on which Virbac teams tirelessly capitalize to sustain a company steeped in human values, a sense of innovation and openness to international markets.
Four dates for a unique destiny
1961: A graduate of the Maisons-Alfort Veterinary School, he joins the Pasteur Institute to complete his training in virology and bacteriology, root words of Virbac’s future name.
1965: Meets Max Rombi, his future partner. Two personalities as different as can be, connected by a common ambition.
1968: The pharmaceutical laboratory dedicated to veterinary products is set up in a small three-room apartment in Nice.
1992: Death at sea, at age 55.
Dr Dick, photographed during his national service, while setting up camp in the Mauritanian desert.
After veterinary studies, the young Dr. Pierre-Richard Dick rounded-off his education with a microbiology course at the Pasteur Institute. While there, he developed an avid interest in biology and acquired knowledge that would later enable him to perfect the first vaccines produced by Virbac.
Pierre-Richard Dick and Max Rombi. Photographed here in 1969 and 1971, formed a duo whose perfect match fueled for Virbac’s rapid ascent.
Pierre-Richard Dick in his new office in Carros.
Pierre-Richard Dick takes the microphone at a reception for veterinarians and Virbac employees in the Nice city hall in the early 1980s. Just one of Dr. Dick’s many PR roles.
Pierre-Richard Dick and the Virbac management team in 1990.
Pierre-Richard Dick streers his family’s boat during the Swan Cap race in 1982. He was introduced to sailing by his father, who was passionate about the high seas.