Harry’s Pharmacy (Auburn, Illinois)

Thanks to a Great Mentor and Friend, Scott Borntreger Set Himself Up for a Fantastic 25-Year and Counting Independent Pharmacy Run in Auburn, Illinois

Twenty five years ago Scott Borntreger made a decision that forever changed his life. Content at his former employer, Hook’s Drug Store in Vandalia, Illinois, an opportunity came up to get involved as a partner at Harry’s Pharmacy in nearby Auburn. Borntreger made the leap and in the process made a lifelong friend in fellow independent pharmacy owner Darry Tjaden of Cain’s Drug Store, who became his senior partner and mentor. A quarter century later the two are no longer partners, but still travel together to attend IPC-related events, learn together and enjoy each other’s company.

IPC:

What are the biggest benefits to being an IPC member?

Scott:

“The biggest benefit to being a member of IPC is the negotiating of rebates with McKesson. With the new supply agreement we’ve actually seen a little bit of a turnaround of our gross margins, which has been very beneficial to us. IPC shows us what else is out there that we need to consider as far as possibilities for our store. We were introduced to PrescribeWellness at the IPC Independent Pharmacy Conference and that contract has been very beneficial to our business over the past three years. We appreciate the technology rebates IPC provides as they have been very helpful. We value the different vendors that IPC gives us access to, and it’s great that we don’t have to go searching for them ourselves. There are times we have done a lot of front-end stuff with IPC, but the negotiating for us has definitely been the main benefit because we can’t do that by ourselves.”

IPC:

What were your favorite experiences at the 2016 IPC Independent Pharmacy Conference?

Scott:

“The IPC Independent Pharmacy Conference was wonderful; it was the third one we’ve attended. The locations of IPC’s Conferences are great, and our favorite thing this year was our hot air balloon ride. It’s nice to have a chance to travel with our kids because we don’t get a lot of quality time at home with our busy work schedules. Being able to travel and explore new places is what we really like, along with the networking and some wonderful entertainment.”

IPC:

Why is it important to attend various industry events?

Scott:

“When we started the business 25 years ago my former business partner Darryl Tjaden and I were single owners that never left our stores. About three years in we decided that we really needed to start attending conference and see what other stores are doing so that we could keep up with industry changes and updates. We started with the McKesson tradeshow, and then about 15 years ago we started going to NCPA and that was very helpful.

We were happy that IPC started its own event, the IPC Independent Pharmacy Conference, because everybody there is having the same problems, and most attendees are willing to talk about solutions and share ideas. It provides great networking and it’s great for problem solving and troubleshooting issues that arise at our stores. Even if it is not the IPC Conference, I would encourage everybody and every fellow member that they need to be attending at least one industry event a year. The networking far outweighs the cost of going. It helps us keep up with trends and how to stay in business and do a great job for our customers. It also helps us build a lot of bonds with people all over the country, who are not our competition. Those relationships have been wonderful and very helpful.”

IPC:

Can you tell me more about your relationship with fellow IPC member Darryl Tjaden of Cain’s Drug Store in Vandalia, Illinois?

Scott:

“It’s great to have someone to travel with and bounce ideas off of, and in my case it’s been Darryl Tjaden (and his wife). He is someone that I have totally open dialogue with about problems or ideas, and I can talk to any hour of the day. Having those types of people around you is key and without Darryl I wouldn’t be where I am today. He brought me on as a junior partner, but we’ve now been friends for a very long time, about 25 years now. We’ve been there for each other every day, and he’s been invaluable to me in addition to my family. When we go somewhere for an event, we travel together as IPC members, learning together and just enjoying each other’s time.”

IPC:

Can you take us through the history of Harry’s Pharmacy and how you got involved with the store?

Scott:

“Harry’s Pharmacy was started in this location 40 years ago by a gentleman named Harry Buck. About 25 years ago he decided to sell it, and at the time I had just got married, and was approached by a business partner who asked me to get involved. I knew the gentleman well, but decided to pass and settled back in my hometown. Six months later I began thinking of conversations I had with his daughter Mary Beth, who was a college classmate of mine, who kept mentioning how nice of a town this was and how good a store it was. We ended up moving here and I took over the operation and I’ve been here ever since.

Before I moved here I was working for a chain, Hook’s Drug Store, which is now CVS, and that’s where I worked out of college for four years. I gained a lot of knowledge there, especially about the out-front business. I was quite happy there, but then this opportunity came about and we just went with it.”

IPC:

What are some of the services Harry’s Pharmacy is known for?

Scott:

“We have a 3,500 square foot store, with about 500 in pharmacy and the rest out front. There is also a UPS station where people can drop off packages. It’s popular and it brings in new people from surrounding towns since it’s the only location within 20 miles of here. We do have the traditional OTCs like braces and things. We have the basic DME products, and then we have the pharmacy. It’s a traditional pharmacy where we do scripts and service an assisted living facility. We do about 150 med sync patients per month, and of those we compliance package for about 80. I’m of the generation where we are taking care of my mother and our friends’ parents. You can just see the relief on their faces when they bring in a big basket of meds and we can organize it into compliance packages. That’s what we do; we customize medications, and serve our customers.”

IPC:

What makes the front-end section of Harry’s Pharmacy stand out?

Scott:

“We want the customers to feel welcome as they come in the door, where we feature a very nice gift card selection through American Greetings, and an extensive gift selection. My wife and a fellow employee have worked very hard on it and have built up a good reputation for just that part of the store. We also have a nice Kodak picture kiosk and it’s up to date. We get a lot of Facebook posts through that, especially around graduation time and special occasions. We have very nice gifts, but not overly expensive, and perfect for a last minute birthday party. Candles, clothing and jewelry have been big lately so we offer a lot of that. Also figurines, some plates and picture frames for anniversaries or special occasions.”

IPC:

Why did you and your family decide to move to Auburn, Illinois and work at Harry’s Pharmacy?

Scott:

“Mary Beth (the previous owner’s daughter) always talked about how good the people were in this community and how much they supported her dad as she grew up. Her and her siblings grew up in the school system, and they told us about how good it was, and how it is financially sound. It’s a small town like the one I grew up in. It feels like home, but an attraction for us is that Springfield is just 15 miles from here and that provides the services of a bigger town. My daughter plays club volleyball and takes piano lessons so she can do that there. The location near Springfield was a draw and the town itself was attractive with the nice friendly people that live here.”

IPC:

How is Harry’s Pharmacy a community leader and how do you stay involved in Auburn, Illinois?

Scott:

“We are active in our community every day. I just had a senior graduate from high school and I have a seventh grader. We are at the volleyball games, at the other events, and the customers we are servicing are also at those games, as well as the church we attend on Sundays. I’m a trustee on the fire department, and I’ve done ambulance services, and we try to take care of those businesses. We are very involved in the schools, with our support of the soccer and the youth baseball programs. It’s our community and it’s our home and we try to do the best we can for the members of the community.”

IPC:

Why is Harry’s Pharmacy marketing through social media, especially Facebook, so effective?

Scott:

“Facebook has been our big marketing effort. We have an employee on staff that every Thursday sets up what appears on our page. We try to provide a little bit of the clinical stuff, some local stuff, and we have close to 800 followers so that’s been really great. We worked with McKesson and did their Rx Marketing Advisor program for a year, and they helped us establish direction. Whenever there is a parade or something, we are there with a float and are handing out things. Last year was wonderful because we brought our old owner back and he rode with us on the float. Our older folks enjoyed seeing him. We also support a lot of local teams and the school. Facebook has probably been our biggest ally along with the campaigns we run through PrescribeWellness.”

Location snapshot:
Harry’s Pharmacy is located at the eastern end of Auburn, Illinois off on E. Jackson St. (Illinois Hwy. 104). The small community, known as the Redbud City, had a population of 4,317 as of the 2000 census and is considered part of the Springfield, Illinois metropolitan area.