A conversation with Joseph Abraham — Hometown Pharmacy, Santa Maria, CA

We asked experienced pharmacy owner Joseph Abraham, owner of Hometown Pharmacy in Santa Maria, California, to discuss how McKesson has helped at different stages of his career and why he is so excited to share his experiences to help pharmacists become successful owners.

Joseph, can you tell us about your background and how it motivated your success in pharmacy ownership?

I grew up in a village of 450 people in the Sinai Desert of Egypt where our only water came from a well. There were only two bicycles in our village, and my biggest dream as a child was to own my own bicycle. Thirty years (and several bicycles) later, I’m truly living the American Dream. I have been a pharmacist for 32 years and today I am the owner of Hometown Pharmacy. Thanks in large part to the support I’ve received from my wife, Lena, McKesson, and the RxOwnership program, Hometown Pharmacy has been very successful with a 216% increase in business in the past three years.

How did you get started in pharmacy ownership?

I moved to the United States when I was 27 years old as a result of my father being advised by the British Army to migrate. I became a U.S. citizen in 1987 and I am proud that I was able to attend the UCSF Pharmacy School as a result of my 25-year career in the U.S. Army. After a residency at UCSF, I was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco for three years. When I left the Army, I wanted to open a small community pharmacy where I could focus on patient care and treat my staff and customers like family. McKesson ownership advisor Karen Schmidt has believed in me from day one and has been with me every step of the way — from my first store in Bakersfield, to being named Business of the Year by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, to helping us successfully build and grow Hometown Pharmacy over the past three years.

What is your favorite part of owning a community pharmacy?

I see myself as a pharmacist and a small businessman. Owning a pharmacy is a business and you have to run it as such. If you have the right location, a good business plan, and show value to your customers by providing friendly, high-quality service, you can be quite successful. Of course, the monetary success is great, but the rewards we receive from our customers and community are definitely our main driver. When customers bring the staff Christmas cookies during the holidays, it makes me so proud to be part of my community.

How has McKesson helped you achieve your ownership goals?

McKesson empowered me from the beginning and trusted me when I was ready to start my first pharmacy 10 years ago. The comprehensive team at McKesson helped me with the business plan and financing and has continued to help me find, evaluate and purchase five pharmacies since.

However, the support I receive from McKesson and RxOwnership doesn’t stop at the purchase. For example, a few years ago I had an idea to develop a compounding lab in addition to an IV room for my customers. My McKesson finance contact, Steve Grant, helped me secure financing to cover this investment and today we have the first and only compounding lab in the area. McKesson is consistently providing reliable solutions to help with my business. Cori Omiecinski, my McKesson rep, visits me at least once a month and is available whenever we need anything, even on the weekends!

Why is it so important for you to share your ownership experience?

It is important that we hire from the community we serve and give them the training and tools to provide great service. Being a mentor to my staff and training pharmacists how to become owners brings tremendous satisfaction. I had a pharmacist working for me and I trained him to the best of my knowledge. He saved up some working capital, and with some financing assistance from McKesson, he now owns his own pharmacy.