Steve Standley recently reached a career milestone that only a handful at Virbac have achieved: He has worked for our company for 30 years.
By Malcolm Mayhew
“Thirty one, to be exact,” chuckles Standley, Director of Pharmaceutical Development at Virbac’s St. Louis location.
That means Standley, who is 60, has spent half his life working for Virbac. That’s the type of decades-long commitment that is becoming increasingly rare in the workplace.
His devotion to Virbac could be the end result of a work-hard ethic instilled in him at a young age. “I started working when I was in my teens, mowing yards around town,” he says. “I was a lifeguard for a while, a stocker at Sears. I helped pay for college working at Sears.”
Standley may have also soaked up the same work philosophies of his father, who did not make it a habit to jump from job to job.
“In St. Louis, we had McDonnell Douglas, which is now Boeing, and when you were growing up in this area, at that time, it was one of those things – you’d get out of college and go work for Boeing. My father worked there and I grew up watching him work there for many, many years.”
Chances are, Standley says, it’s a combination of all of the above, plus the fact that he feels like the company’s size allows him – and all employees – to voice their opinions.
“When I first started working here, I had just come from another company where I was one of about 2,000 chemists,” he says. “In that large of a team, it’s pretty hard to say your contribution is really going to be appreciated. Here, it’s different. Our size allows us to hear what people have to say. I’ve always felt like you can make a difference here, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed for so long.”
Standley began working at Virbac before it was called Virbac. When he started, it was Purina Mills. From 1991 to 2001, he worked in the industrial operations department. “I was still doing development and testing and some product development, but it was more on the industrial operations side,” he says.
In 1999, Virbac entered the St. Louis market when its French parent, Virbac S.A., bought Agri-Nutrition Group Ltd., a company that had its roots as an operating unit of Ralston Purina and later Purina Mills.
Virbac brought research and development (R&D) to the business and to the Bridgeton plant.
“In 2001, the VP of R&D at the time asked me to start a pharmaceutical development group,” Standley says. “I think there were three or four of us. We were a pretty small group. We’re probably about 15 or so now.”
As Director of Pharmaceutical Development, Standley oversees the chemistry side of product manufacturing.
“We mainly deal with the chemistry related to manufacturing,” he says. “Our team develops analytical test methods and we do formulation and process development.”
Standley holds two degrees: a bachelor’s of science in chemistry and a master’s in business administration.
Virbac helped him attain his master’s.
“That’s another great perk of working here,” he says. “There is a tuition assistance program offered to eligible employees.”
Since Virbac strives to promote from within, Standley’s education and tenacity became invaluable commodities.
“I’ve definitely been lucky when it has come to new opportunities here,” he says. “They’ll say, `Hey, we’d like for you to do this,’ or `Hey, we’d like for you to do that.’ And so over the years, they’ve kept inviting me to do a little bit more, take on a bit of management, a little bit more responsibility. They never threw me into a situation they knew I couldn’t handle. It’s been a gradual development.”
Another reason he loves Virbac: He loves animals.
“I’m a dog guy for sure, but I love all animals,” he says. “To think that I made a contribution to a product that helped save or improve the life of an animal, that’s so rewarding to me.”