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Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences head Professor Frazer Allan with honorary doctorate recipient Don McLaren

Animal health leader awarded honorary doctorate

Animal health entrepreneur Don McLaren was awarded an honorary doctorate at Massey University’s Manawatū graduation ceremony today.

Dr McLaren started the animal remedy company Bomac Laboratories in 1958. It went on to hold 154 patents, 55 inventions and register 360 products in New Zealand and 180 in Australia, with many more in the pipeline. The company was sold to Bayer International in 2010.

Dr McLaren is a member of the National Business Review Hall of Fame and an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the animal remedy industry and horse racing. He owns Northfields Stud near Karaka and is patron of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and a past chairman of the Auckland Racing Club.

He says he is honoured to receive the award. “I’m certainly not a doctor of anything but I have shown the way, with developing new products, many of which are registered and sold in countries throughout the world.”

Dr McLaren has worked closely with many Massey University staff on the research and development of Bomac’s veterinary products. He says the veterinary profession has grown immensely over the past few decades.

“We have always worked closely with vets,” he says. “The profession was not at the forefront of marketing agricultural products when we started, but we put the spine back into it again. We also spent millions on research and are now working well with many universities that offer the special expertise needed to produce a product.”

He says the success of Bomac is down to knowing what they did well and sticking to it. “We stuck to our knitting, grew out of profits and didn’t borrow large sums of money,” he says. “We have saved the lives, and improved the lot, of millions of animals over the years. We’ve taken it one step at a time and one thing I’ve learned is that fortune doesn’t always favour the brave – if you grow too quickly you’re set up for a fall. You are required to guarantee your product and quality is everything.”

Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences head Professor Frazer Allan says the award is well deserved.

“Don McLaren’s story is one of immense personal success made all the richer by his dedication and passionate support for research and education in the wider community over the years,” Professor Allan says.

“Research and development played a key role in maintaining Bomac’s focus and its ability to keep ahead of the competition. Don was driven by the view that considerable knowledge existed within Massey, which could be leveraged to provide innovation and market-driven products. This has proven to be the case and Massey has benefited by having a committed commercial partner who had the ability, drive and track record to take new products to many markets and provide a revenue stream to the University.”

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