Holley Roeseler, Debbie Girardi and Cammy Jorstad — Sheboygan Health Mart, Sheboygan, WI

After working in an independent pharmacy in high school, Debbie Girardi graduated from the University of Illinois in 1991. After, she held a variety of staff and management positions at local retail pharmacies. Cammy Jorstad graduated from Ferris State University in 1988 and practiced retail pharmacy for two years before spending 20 years in pharmaceutical sales. When returning to retail pharmacy, she went to work for Debbie at a regional chain.

“Working at a chain, we became increasingly disenfranchised about not having the control or flexibility to run the business the way we felt it should be run. The final decision to go independent came while we were driving deliveries after hours even though the pharmacy did not officially have a delivery service,” said Cammy.

Cammy and Debbie believed as independent pharmacy owners they could “do it our own way, a better way.” But they needed help and resources to make their dream a reality. That’s where McKesson’s RxOwnership and IPC stepped in to help Debbie and Cammy open their own start-up store — the first independent pharmacy to open in their county in 30 years.

With a goal of keeping independent pharmacies independent, RxOwnership provides buyers, sellers and students industry expertise, step-by-step guidance, financing options and confidential matching services.

Besides vision, building a pharmacy from the ground up meant managing many details and limiting risk. “Opening a new pharmacy is a big financial risk, and RxOwnership helped us see what was possible and realistic. From the first call, everyone at RxOwnership and Health Mart has been very responsive and helped us with financing, business planning, operational support and marketing. They helped us from start to finish — we couldn’t have done it without them,” said Debbie.

“If the RxOwnership team got us through the logistics of opening the store, IPC was instrumental in giving us the kick start we needed to be successful. From a great grand opening to ongoing marketing assistance, IPC’s support has been tremendous. The result is we have a great mix of patients and our prescription counts go up every week,” added Debbie.

According to Cammy, “We are thrilled to be able to offer services that we were unable to provide at the chain. We have a dedicated delivery team that is appreciated by our older patients — especially with our snowy weather. We offer convenience packaging at no charge and are staffed so that if needed, a pharmacist can make a house call to further reinforce adherence.

“As much as we emphasize personal clinical care, a patient’s pharmacy decision often comes down to cost. A huge benefit of working with IPC and McKesson is that we have the ability to keep prices as low as possible — they make sure we can compete while maintaining the relationships and personalized service that makes community pharmacies stand out.”

“We thought we knew our patients well before, but now we really know our patients,” said Debbie. “We can make the occasional house call, chat with them on Facebook or have an uninterrupted private conversation in our consultation room. It is heartwarming when a new patient is referred to us. That’s when the rewards of owning a community pharmacy far outweigh any challenges.”

When asked how much experience is needed before considering ownership, Debbie and Cammy indicated that years of experience is not the primary indicator of whether you’re ready for ownership. They added that with the right partners, like McKesson’s RxOwnership, IPC, and Health Mart, you’re not doing it alone because there is help every step of the way.

“Neither of us had ever owned a pharmacy, but we knew we had great ideas about how to run a successful pharmacy that we couldn’t implement in a cookie-cutter box environment. We would wholeheartedly encourage pharmacy students and every chain pharmacist frustrated with the status quo to consider ownership!”