When Amber Haag was in pharmacy school she was very active in the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and always had an interest in independent pharmacy and ownership.
She knew that owning and practicing at her own pharmacy was the right path.
“I worked for one of the chain pharmacies for a couple of summers and while I enjoyed that experience. I certainly knew that I preferred independent pharmacy and that’s where my heart was. I very much enjoyed seeing something that needs done or a service we could provide to meet the needs of the community and being able to do something about it right away – versus going thru the corporate ladder chain.
Through NCPA and school, I met so many independent pharmacists that were great leaders and made such a difference in their respective communities. I have also always had an interest in the financial aspects of business so pharmacy ownership seemed natural and has always been a dream of mine.”
After Amber graduated from pharmacy school, Pharmacist and Kansas State Representative Don Hill and his wife Robbie took her under their wing. They owned Emporia’s Medicine Shoppes. The Hills had purchased the business in 1972 and were looking for someone that would be interested in buying the business when Hill decided to retire.
When Hill shared that he’d be retiring, Amber sought assistance from Lisa Brumbaugh, regional director and consultant at the Kansas SBDC at Emporia State University. The goal was to purchase the pharmacy in a way that was a win-win for both buyer and seller. Brumbaugh helped Haag determine a fair purchase price that would be beneficial to Haag’s mentor and would allow her to continue to build a sustainable business in Emporia.
While Amber and Lisa worked on the details of the purchase, Amber’s husband, Cory (a real estate developer) secured a prime location on Twelfth Avenue – less than a block from the original pharmacy location.
Haag shared that it was advantageous as a buyer in the transaction to have historical data from the owner and balance that against benchmarking performance numbers available from other industry partners to put together financial forecasting tools that she and her husband and Brumbaugh, felt comfortable using. “Lisa Brumbaugh was fantastic to work with and helped us prepare financial forecasts utilizing the historical financial data we had,” shared Amber. “She did a great job adjusting everything according to our proposed plans going forward. This really helped us in our overall financial plan for the bank as well as provide benchmarks for us to use on an ongoing basis when analyzing the business.”
Haag went on to share, “We were able to successfully solidify financing for the pharmacy acquisition and the tools and worksheets we developed are still being used by our business on an ongoing basis to help analyze and prepare for our financial future.”
The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy of Emporia
In October 2013, Amber Haag became the official owner of The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy of Emporia at 1400 W. Twelfth in Emporia.
Amber believes that understanding that she is in a relationship business has been key to her success.
“While we are in the pharmacy business, we are really in a relationship business.”
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“While we are in the pharmacy business, we are really in a relationship business.”[/pullquote]
Our entire operation is based on providing pharmacy services with exceptional customer service to our patients. Our patients have a choice in pharmacy providers and usually pay the same for prescriptions wherever they go because of their prescription insurance. Therefore our patients choose us for the high level of personalized attention and care they receive in our pharmacy.
It all comes down to the relationships we have with our patients and community. We have exceptional staff that help make this happen and help maintain this high standard. We try to surround ourselves with staff that know and understand how important this is to our business and our patients.”
Reflecting on the past two years, Amber has some great advice for others thinking about starting a business today.
“The best advice I have for anyone wanting to own their own business is just to ‘keep going and don’t give up.’ There are days that are tough and you question yourself and everything you are doing. But at the end of every day you look back and look at all you have accomplished and all the patients and people you have positively impacted and it’s all worth it.
I think your mindset and attitude going into everything is the most important aspect. Business ownership is not just a job; it’s a way of life and a way of life that will reward you far beyond what you could ever imagine – in so many different ways. If you look at it that way, you will make it through even the hardest days. When those hard days come and you feel completely overwhelmed, just remember to take it one step at a time, even if the next step is to take a break from it all. Keep going and don’t give up.”
// LOCAL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE