Kernersville a big part of Southern Pharmacy Services’ growth story

By John Joyce

Marybeth Terry never would have imagined that the small pharmacy she and husband Chad started out of the back of a 100-year-old grocery store in Pink Hill in Lenoir County would evolve so quickly.

Fifteen years later, the family-owned business operates three locations across two states and employs more than 350 people –– a far cry from the dozen or so workers she and Chad had operating in Pink Hill. The long-term care pharmacy services business works with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, family care homes, and group homes across North Carolina and Virginia.

Their company is Southern Pharmacy Services, now headquartered in Kernersville and still operating out of Pink Hill, as well as in Wytheville, Virginia.

“We started with 15 employees in a grocery store that we actually leased form one of my grandfather’s best friends,” she said.

The lease was nominal, just a couple hundred bucks a month so the couple could feel like they were paying something for the space, she said. And the space –– forget it. Marybeth says there was one fuse for the whole building. 

“You either turned the lights on, or you turned them off,” she said laughing.

Today, thanks to a partnership formed in 2011 with Guardian Pharmacy Services and a commitment to keeping up with technological and regulatory changes, the Terrys are proud when they look back over the last 15 years.

The Kernersville site was the second for the company, opening in March 2008 in about 8,000 square feet. It has relocated to a different site spanning 25,000 square feet, where the company recently added new automated packaging technology to streamline packaging and delivery processes. After starting with about 20 employees locally who distributed medications to 800 regional clients, the operation now employs about 150 in Kernersville and serves more than 6,500 clients from that site.

The Terrys pride themselves on having stayed true to their core values, chief among them customer service. They have extended that not just to their customers, but to their employees – many of their original 15 workers are either still with their company or have passed away –– their vendors and the managers of the companies with which they have done business over the years are all still connected to the company.

The Terrys operate without the safety net of being owned by a larger facilities manager or corporation. The alliance with Guardian several years ago alleviated the burden most small business owners will identify with, she said, of having to manage one’s own human resources and internal operations.

“We have a lot of business that has been with us since the beginning. We have retained a large portion of our business and that is something we are very proud of,” Marybeth said.

Beyond that, investments in technology and innovation have furthered the Terrys’ ability to keep up with a changing market, one where automation not only streamlines the delivery process from manufacturer to customer, but also eliminates the potential for diversion –– the fraud or theft fueled in the pharmaceutical industry by the ongoing opioid epidemic plaguing the country.

“We automated the pharmacy process so it’s more efficient for the facility,” she said.

But that also means more business intelligence software for data tracking, real-time customer service information such as surveys to ensure deliver and satisfaction, and a robotic machine that packages the medication, conducts bar code scans and ensures accuracy.

“There is a lot of liability with medications,” she said. “Accuracy is paramount.”

business works with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, family care homes, and group homes across North Carolina and Virginia.

Their company is Southern Pharmacy Services, now headquartered in Kernersville and still operating out of Pink Hill, as well as in Wytheville, Virginia.

“We started with 15 employees in a grocery store that we actually leased form one of my grandfather’s best friends,” she said.

The lease was nominal, just a couple hundred bucks a month so the couple could feel like they were paying something for the space, she said. And the space –– forget it. Marybeth says there was one fuse for the whole building. 

“You either turned the lights on, or you turned them off,” she said laughing. Today, thanks to a partnership formed in 2011 with Guardian Pharmacy Services and a commitment to keeping up with technological and regulatory changes, the Terrys are proud when they look back over the last 15 years. 

 

https://www.bizjournals.com/triad/news/2018/08/08/kernersville-pharmacy-celebrates-15-years-of.html