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Profile of an Entrepreneurial Leader: Frank Cable

“It’s not work, it’s a second home,” is how Frank Cable describes his workplace. Cable is the owner of the South Sacramento Leader Pharmacy, a place that patients and staff say feels like home. Cable strives to create a friendly, modernized environment that focuses on building close relationships and providing individualized care.

Cable was interested in independent pharmacy ownership from the time of his graduation from Drake University College of Pharmacy in the early ‘60s; something he explains was a common aspiration. Independent pharmacies dominated the field, and ownership was one of a few career opportunities available to graduates. Following the opening of his pharmacy in South Sacramento, California, Cable became one of 15 independent pharmacy owners in the area to come together and form Leader Pharmacies, a group formed for the mutual benefit of purchasing products and advertising in a more economical way. Today, Cable remains the president of the organization, and the group has grown to include 35 stores across California.

The growth of chain pharmacies has been matched by the closing of many independent pharmacies, a switch that Cable describes as being unfortunate. Cable hopes to see more students and current pharmacists become interested in independent pharmacy ownership. The setting he’s created at South Sacramento Leader Pharmacy has allowed for the establishment of close relationships among staff and patients. He credits this to his hardworking staff, which has allowed him to spend more time with patients and attract patients looking for a personalized experience. Cable remarked that some pharmacists may become disillusioned working in a corporate setting and develop a desire to become their own boss; however, pharmacy ownership is not without its own obstacles.

Cable described the main challenges of independent pharmacy ownership as being financing and time. Those interested must be willing to acknowledge that the first few years will mean accepting debt and putting in the extra time needed to build a business. It is important to maintain the right mindset and know that nothing is impossible. The rewards far exceed the efforts required. Cable feels comfortable trusting his business to his staff, something that has allowed him to develop various interests outside of work.

Cable’s passion for community service was recently heralded by Cardinal Health, earning him the 2012 Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award. Cable’s commitment to service began with a desire to give back to the neighborhood that housed his business.  Cable explained that when you own a small business, it’s easy to develop a relationship with other businesses in the neighborhood. It was this relationship that led Cable to form the North Franklin District Business Association, a property and business improvement organization.

The business association collected revenue and drove the redevelopment of Franklin Boulevard, which housed many of their business and was named the “ugliest street” in the area in 1985. Cable and the North Franklin District Business Association raised money to refurbish the fronts of buildings, sidewalks, gutters, and signs. Franklin Boulevard now has the lowest vacancy in the area. To Cable, this was a way of giving back to the neighborhood that had become home to his business and the people that welcomed him there.

Cable is also founder and board member of the California Northstate University College of Pharmacy and serves as a preceptor for pharmacy students at several schools of pharmacy across the country. In honor of his commitment to community service, Cardinal Health donated $5,000 in his name to Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and $5,000 to California Northstate University’s College of Pharmacy.

When asked for advice to aspiring owners of independent pharmacies, Cable offered the following:

  • Try to get experience working or shadowing in an independent pharmacy
  • Get in touch with a local wholesaler for purchasing assistance and utilize available resources (Cardinal Health, for example, will match buyers and sellers to provide an exit-strategy for independent pharmacy owners wishing to retire and new owners to discover a pharmacy with a good fit)
  • Develop close ties with other independent pharmacies