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Editorís Note: Dan Kearney is vice president, ruminants of North America for Merial where he is responsible for all U.S. sales and marketing activities for Merialís large animal products across several species.

AM: What factors influenced the decision to move the North American headquarters to Atlanta?

Merialís move to the Atlanta area is part of a global initiative to maximize Merialís effectiveness and strengthen its position as the worldís leading animal health company.

More than a year ago, Merial appointed a team to evaluate the future of North American operations that were spread across offices in New Jersey, Missouri and Georgia. The team determined that having management functions spread across three states posed barriers to communication, teamwork and effectiveness.

Georgia was chosen because Merial already had two other sites in the state - the avian business enterprise in Gainesville and a manufacturing and research and development facility in Athens. The move brings all U.S. activities together within a 50-mile radius, and will increase business effectiveness to support the North American animal health marketplace, a key market for Merial. In addition, Georgia also offered many other advantages: a proactive business environment with dynamic economic growth, a talented pool of well-educated employees, access to an international airport and the availability of high-quality housing and office space.

AM: How did Merial work to prepare its employees for a move of corporate headquarters from the northeast to the southeast?

Employees were kept informed of decisions and logistics of the move. A well-planned transition took place, bringing together employees from offices in New Jersey and Missouri, and integrating new employees from the Atlanta area. Our new headquarters building offers an open work environment to stimulate creativity and communication. To help our employees and their families make the move, Merial provided a number of helpful services and benefits to make the relocation go as smoothly as possible.

AM: More than three years ago, we did a View From the Top column with Merial at the time of the completed merger between Merck & Co. and Rhone-Poulenc (now Aventis). Preventive animal health products were a focus of the new company. Is that still true today? If not, what is the key focus of the company in its marketing relationship with its customers?

We will continue to advocate strategic parasite control and vaccination as preventive health strategies. Merialís key emphasis is on innovative products and solutions that enhance the health, well-being and performance of animals.

To be an innovative leader, we are focusing on becoming an active participant, with our customers, in the meat and milk production chain. An example of this philosophy is SUREHEALTHô, a certified cattle health program to help producers capture added value by increasing productivity. Launched earlier this year, SUREHEALTH includes the use of Merialís IVOMEC and EPRINEXģ products, as well as its vaccines.

To further add value for its customers and as another sign of innovation, Merial has just launched its new Web site at The new global site features country-specific entry points that highlight the companyís global initiatives. It provides many options such as product and technical information, interactive tools to help customers manage their businesses and production systems and other unique features.

AM: How is Merial communicating its move to its customers? Does the move present unique opportunities for Merial to reach its customers?

One of Merialís core values is its focus on the customer - not only by providing quality products, delivered on time, but by providing solutions and services that bring added value to its customers. Our SUREHEALTH program and our new Web site are just two ways that we demonstrate this commitment. Our focus demands open communication across teams and with our customers. While weíve communicated information about the move with our customers, the most important thing is that our customers see the benefits. One of the first business units we set up in our new headquarters was Customer Care.

AM: What differences, if any, will customers see in Merialís products and services as a result of this corporate relocation?

Customers can expect the same high-quality service and products that they have always seen from Merial. Merial will remain the industry leader in developing animal health solutions that benefit veterinarians and livestock producers. We will continue to invest in new technology in order to better provide our customers with the information, tools and services they need to make informed business decisions and to improve the production of livestock. AM

IVOMEC, RELIANT and RESPISHIELD are registered trademarks and SUREHEALTH is a trademark of Merial.

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