Running for public office isn’t something pharmacy owner, Will Douglas initially had plans for, but he accepted the opportunity when it arose.
After attending several political events things began to snowball for Douglas. The first event he attended was in June 2019 and by October his campaign was already moving forward.
“I just wanted to get involved, I wasn’t expecting to run,” Douglas said.
Much of his initial support was bolstered by pharmacists and pharmacy owners. He made such a splash on social media with the launch of his campaign that he was able to raise significant funds and deter a primary challenge.
Even though Douglas is finding quick success in this arena so far, he didn’t get to this point only through chance. He grew up in rural Oklahoma in a blue-collar family and worked hard to reach his goal of having a good career and financial stability.
“When you grow up out in rural America you just don’t see a whole lot of careers that provide a lot of financial stability for your family,” Douglas said.
From as early on as high school, Douglas remembers wanting to be a pharmacist. He wanted to be able to provide for his family. The inspiration for this came from his uncle.
“The only person I knew who was really successful was my uncle, he was a pharmacist in southwest Oklahoma, and he owned a number of pharmacies,” Douglas said.
He started his journey going to college at the University of Oklahoma and then to pharmacy school. He graduated, moved to Dallas and began working at a big box pharmacy.
“I then had an opportunity to manage an independent pharmacy about an hour north of Dallas,” Douglas said. “I leaped at that opportunity to get closer to pharmacy ownership.”
When the owner he worked for had a chance to buy another pharmacy he passed the opportunity to Douglas and his dream of pharmacy ownership was realized with the purchase of Prescription Pharmacy in Whitney, Texas. He added all the modern bells and whistles like compounding, med sync, vaccines, new computer system.
“I think the first thing you have to do; is you have to have all the big pieces in place at your other store first.”
Shortly thereafter he had the opportunity to buy a second store about twice the size of his first.
Douglas knew what he was getting into with his second store, Cody Drug in Sulphur Springs, Texas. He had already worked to update a computer system and add a Parata system at his first pharmacy, but he did come to understand that stores aren’t all going to be run the same way.
“With the second store, you feel like you’re scrambling from day one to get it to feel like the first store,” Douglas said. “I think the first thing you have to do; is you have to have all the big pieces in place at your other store first.”
He also found that staff don’t always want to change, and you have to be mindful of that as you work through making updates.
After purchasing his second store he would also find what it was like trying to buy and own a pharmacy in a different state.
“A partner and I were in New York, in Manhattan and we said it would be awesome to own a pharmacy in Manhattan,” Douglas said. “We got the ball rolling on it and after about three months we realized with the tax burden and the regulations that they have up there, it just wasn’t going to be feasible. It was really my first experience in trying to do business outside of Texas, a business-friendly state.”
Douglas keeps that in mind as he’s running for office. He is concerned that if Texas takes the wrong path that others in the state won’t be able to live the American Dream he believes he’s achieved.
Before he even considered running for office, Douglas had set up his pharmacies in a way that would allow them to operate without his presence in store. He decided that if a process at either of his pharmacies needed him directly involved then it needed adjustment. Or if something truly needed his involvement, he found a way to do it remotely.
The way he has set up his pharmacies will also be beneficial to him if elected, as he will have the benefit of being a part of the industry while being able to advocate for and educate other legislators about it.
One issue he would like to address with them is PBM legislation. He believes it’s a complicated issue and that it’s Important to have a pharmacist in the legislature so legislatures will have someone to listen to with experience in the industry.
The general election for the Texas House of Representatives will be held November 3, 2020.