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Service sets Ritzman apart.

WADSWORTH, Ohio -- Ritzman Pharmacies Inc. remains strong and poised for growth 60 years after its founding, according to vice president of retail operations Jon Flume.

"Being a local provider of prescription services since 1950 is a tremendous achievement," he asserts.

Such niche opportunities as providing immunizations and conducting disease state management programs are among the activities that Ritzman will focus on this year while continuing to live up to its reputation of providing exceptional customer service. Such initiatives, explains Flume, will be needed to offset numerous challenges, including the effects from consolidation among health care players, the continuing slide of pharmacy reimbursement rates and the poor economy.

Health care is the core business of Ritzman and is reflected in the success of categories beyond the pharmacy department.

"Our private label vitamins line, homeopathic products and general supplements continue to do well," notes Fiume. "And our reputation and knowledge in these areas have served us well.

"In addition, on account of the economy and the potential lack of health care coverage for many individuals, consumers have turned to supplements to manage their health."

In fact, Flume feels that although the economy has had a detrimental effect on most categories, "wellness" products and services have benefited.

"People are beginning to understand that there are costs associated with managing a disease," he explains. "They are finding that when they practice wellness, their own direct costs may be reduced.

"Wellness will continue to have a place at the table, and even more so if it is adopted heavily by health care coverage programs."

Internally, Ritzman has taken steps to improve efficiencies and manage inventory.

"Since January 2009 we have strongly reduced inventory levels on the retail side," says Flume, adding that Ritzman is also examining the possibility of adding new tools to increase its efficiencies.

"The management of our prescription inventory remains strong as we have a person dedicated in this area."

Ritzman, relates Flume, has encouraged its pharmacists to reinforce to patients the reasons why the company exists.

"We encourage them to be relationship builders [with patients] and to provide service beyond the commonplace," he explains. "We insist that they are taking the time to provide counseling with every new prescription--that they are making introductions with every new customer.

"No matter how busy a location, we want our customers to know who their pharmacist is."

Ritzman is also extensively involved in trade association activities. For example, president and chief executive officer Eric Graft participated in the recent RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill. Graft was also the "pioneers" who joined the National Association of Chain Drug Stores-sponsored event in 2009.

During the activities in Washington, D.C., Gruff was joined by pharmacists, retail executives, pharmacy students and others who visited the offices of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The objective was to remind legislative leaders of the value that community pharmacy brings to health care--both in improving the lives of patients and in helping to hold down costs for the entire health care system.

"Last year's program was educational, but this year's was even more exciting, focused and timely because of the health care debate," says Graft, who along with representatives of several other community pharmacy retailers, met with the legislative staffs of senators and congressmen representing Ohio.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

RITZMAN PHARMACIES

* TOP EXECUTIVE

Eric Graft, president and CEO

* HEADQUARTERS

8614 Hartman Road

Wadsworth, Ohio 44281

Phone: (330) 335-2318

Fax: (330) 335-3222

Web site: ritzmanrx.com

* Full-year results

Sales--$39.8 million (+2.3%)*

Net earnings--N/A

Net margin--N/A

Comparable-store sales--N/A

* Number of drug stores--10

* Number of states operating--1

* Number of stores opened in 2009--8

* Number of stores closed in 2009--1

* Number of stores planned for 2010--1

* Average sales per store--$3.98 million *

* Average store size--3,500 sq. ft.

* Distribution--None

* CDR estimate.

N/A = Not available
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Title Annotation:State of the Industry/The Chains
Comment:Service sets Ritzman apart.(State of the Industry/The Chains)
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 26, 2010
Words:639
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