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Profile of a Pharmacy Innovator: Felix Gallagher

Navigating your way up "the corporate ladder" can be extremely challenging and personally overwhelming at times. Not everyone is suited or even interested in climbing this perpetual ladder.  For those who embark on this career endeavor, they are faced with constant pressure and unexpected sacrifices.  Once you start climbing, looking back down is not recommended.  Diving headfirst back to the ground from midway up that very same ladder is nothing short of reckless and dangerous.  But taking that dive is exactly what some entrepreneurs must do to find their freedom.

Felix Gallagher has been a well respected member of the Des Moines, Iowa pharmacy community since he began his studies at Drake University in 1993.  Upon graduating with his Doctorate of Pharmacy, Mr. Gallagher signed with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as a Pharmacy Manager, responsible for over $5 million in annual sales.  Mr. Gallagher managed the fiscal budgeting for the pharmacy, directly responsible for profit, loss and inventory reconciliations while also managing patient care communications, staff training, and maintaining regulatory policies and compliance procedures. 

Fellow Drake Alum Desmund Adams and his wife Shondalette Adams relocated to Des Moines, Iowa from Chicago three years ago.  Shondalette, who received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Creighton University, brought a wealth of experience and Master's level education to the Des Moines marketplace and sought out a pharmacy staffing firm for temporary employment.  The only firms serving the Iowa market were based outside of Iowa's state boundaries.  The process of searching for a reputable pharmacist staffing firm exposed an unmet need for an Iowa-based pharmacy staffing provider that could hire and place local pharmacists.

After finding placement with a local hospital, Shondalette did not let her ideas go to waste.  She proposed a plan that would create an opportunity to contract her services under her husband's executive search firm, Talent Acquisition Group.  The couple ultimately determined, however, that  a separately branded division called PharmServ would provide the best solution.  This division was specifically focused on staffing retail pharmacists for temporary contract placement, giving Shondalette more freedom to work in various pharmacy capacities at will.  However, Shondalette's vision for PharmServ was even greater.  With more research she discovered the market could easily sustain PharmServ as an independent entity within three to five years.

To create a business independent of their executive search firm, Shondalette and Desmund Adams proposed a plan to Felix Gallagher in October 2006 for partnership in PharmServ. This partnership would spawn a separate business entity, PharmServ Solutions, LLC whose mission would be to address the healthcare industry's persistent shortage of qualified, registered pharmacists and trained technicians in both urban and rural communities.  The new entity would serve large retail chains, hospital pharmacies, long term care facilities, managed care organizations, government healthcare entities, and pharmaceutical distributors. 

In November 2006 Felix agreed to the proposed plan to create PharmServ Solutions, LLC in which he would serve as President of PharmServ and Shondalette Adams would be the Executive Vice President.  To lead the development of the company, Felix stepped down from his position as Pharmacy Manager at Wal-Mart, but continued his employment as a staff pharmacist.  Meanwhile, Shondalette was diligently working under an existing PharmServ contract with a community hospital in Boone, Iowa. 

In February 2007, when the hospital found a need to add an additional pharmacist to their staff, the pharmacy management team turned to Shondalette for a solution.  PharmServ Solutions, LLC was barely off the ground and certainly had not hired any employees yet.  Nevertheless, this was an opportunity for the company to place its first pharmacist.   Consequently, PharmServ Solutions only had one answer - Felix Gallagher, its new President.  After establishing a contract with the hospital, PharmServ Solutions now had its first client and its first successful staffing placement. Leaving his corporate salary and employee benefits at Wal-Mart would be a tremendous sacrifice.  However, in July 2007 Mr. Gallagher packed up his seven years of retail pharmacy experience and separated from Wal-Mart to make a significant commitment to his new partnership.

Felix and Shondalette did not have significant cash to invest in the company and faced the challenge of capitalization.  Alternatively, they did have revenue from the existing contracts with the community hospital for hours that both executives worked as hospital pharmacists.  Instead of paying themselves as employees for their hours worked, both partners agreed to use the money received from the hospital to cover startup and ongoing costs.  This strategy turned the company's growing expenses into profits while keeping the owners and the company out of debt.

PharmServ Staffing has achieved outstanding growth since its inception. The firm has contracted with five different clients and billed more than 2,000 hours since February 2007.  Recently, the firm has also acquired its first government contract which will open new doors for national placement of pharmacists.  These successful staffing relationships have expanded the service capabilities of the company, attracting new and seasoned pharmacists to PharmServ.  PharmServ Solutions, LLC is the product of powerful networking and collaboration among several entrepreneurs to construct the company's business plan and implementation strategy, and to develop graphics, marketing collateral, and the company's website  PharmServ demonstrates that incorporation of innovative ideas leads to success.

PharmServ is now established as a preferred supplier to industry clients that depend on the skill, training and expertise of licensed pharmacists. Felix Gallagher and the Adams’ are proof that being prepared when opportunity knocks is more than just coincidence. It's a matter of planning for the unknown, being willing to take a calculated risk, and partnering with the people who share that spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

While the future of the pharmacy services industry continues to grow, it remains unpredictable and heavily influenced by new service providers like PharmServ. Changing healthcare needs clearly remind us of an increasing demand for better patient care of aging Americans dependent on the clinical expertise of healthcare providers. In tandem with PharmServ's staffing services, the firm now offers professional consulting to clients in need of customized solutions for pharmacy management, hiring, quality control and formulary development.