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Profile of a Pharmacy Innovator: Larry Mayhew

Larry Mayhew was forever enticed by science and developed an ambition to oversee an individual operation all his own.  Upon graduation from Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, he secured an opportunity in Phoenix, Arizona as a staff pharmacist.  The three owners of the pharmacy desired to sell the business to a younger pharmacist.  Mr. Mayhew undertook the entrepreneurial opportunity and worked in the pharmacy for 7 years, forwarding all the proceeds from his share of the profit to compensate the initial owners.  With drive and diligence, Mr. Mayhew inherited his own pharmacy at the age of 35; a mission he had strived for.           

Mr. Mayhew identified opportunities to extend services that neither of his successors or competitors did.  He encountered upon orthopedic surgeons in his shared office structure, who granted a 3 day course to earn a training certificate to equip patients with back, neck, and knee reinforcements.  While stocking  simple pharmacy supplies such as walkers, canes, wrist and ankle supports, he obtained the qualifications needed to branch into further Durable Medical Equipment (DME) supplies and incorporated lift chairs, motorized scooters, commodes, and beds.  Mr. Mayhew’s fundamental endeavor to “go outside the box.” of traditional prescription dispensing, proved to be advantageous to his pharmacy. 

As Mr. Mayhew’s pharmacy developed into a prosperous one, an additional opportunity presented itself.  "As Mr. Mayhew’s first pharmacy developed into a prosperous one, the opportunity to gain an additional pharmacy arose.  The medical structure which held the new pharmacy, was comprised of contrasting physicians and would address the need to discover further niches to maintain his value to the doctors, as well as outlast his competitors.".  Mr. Mayhew attended compound training in Houston, TX at PCCA (Professional Compounding Centers of America), and was savvy enough to broaden his practice into compounding.  Mr. Mayhew and his associates initially introduced various doses of progesterone suppositories and contracted services to the obstetric and gynecological offices as well as fertility specialists in the surrounding area.  At this time, their renowned reputation as a thriving pharmacy prevailed in the city and related entrepreneurial opportunities became accessible.

The profitability allowed the unfolding of yet another pharmacy which settled in a retirement community.  This permitted the expansion of the durable Medical Equipment and fitting business to ostomy and mastectomy devices.   The emerging long term care facility contracts generated additional profit.  While functioning in the nursing home service area, he committed to provide medication as well as conducted chart reviews.   While operating with a number of assisted living facilities and smaller group homes, the “walk in” business was pursued while managing to keep the current location busy.  The pharmacies have attained entrepreneurial niches in long term care management, fertility compounding, apparatus fittings and lastly, durable medical equipment.

As health insurance third party payments were becoming the trend, one of the obstacles faced was maintaining gross margins.  In order to stay ahead of the curve and progress onward, Mr. Mayhew continued to seize distinct niches that were not covered by third party arrangements.  In the interim, the service to the consumers and the physicians remained at high standards.  In the late 1980's, Medicare offered a pharmacy benefit to the hospice program. The company was well known as an extensive pharmacy with “on call” availability and valley wide distribution service.  Once again, opportunity knocked and Mr. Mayhew listened.    The primary hospice was contracted in 1988, and quickly thereafter, direct hospice business proceeded.  The hospice centers in the Phoenix area were serviced predominantly from four separate locations for a multitude of years.  Mr. Mayhew followed the path of success, as he has done many times prior, and consolidated the four predominant “hospice pharmacies” into one central location.  The turning point occurred when Mr. Mayhew determined to sell the individual medical building locations and only attend to the promising hospice businesses.  Throughout the next five years the pharmacies were financed to the current managing pharmacists, similar to the duplicate manner in which Mr. Mayhew was able to purchase his first pharmacy.

Mr. Mayhew feels it took many years and entrepreneurial effort to be an extraordinary pharmacy owner.  The sacrifices of immediate rewards for potential long term gains are plenty.  Mr. Mayhew advises that if it is your desire to own a booming practice, you will have to be willing to produce services that are more progressive than the competitors’. This will command plenty of leg work and detailing the physicians in your area. You’ll need to recognize their needs and attempt to fill them.  Embrace yourself with successful people and get acquainted with as many pharmacy organizations as are available to you. 

Mr. Mayhew was not only challenged and rewarded in his professional career, but his entrepreneurial goals were achieved.  He was innovative in his approach, as well as mentored others in beginning their pursuit.  Mr. Mayhew has consistently participated in pharmacy organizations and learned from his predecessors.   The various journeys he has traveled has permitted others to follow in his footsteps and discover success.

The DELTA Rx Institute remembers Larry Mayhew as he passed away on May 16, 2020.  HIs legacy of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and community engagement is one to that continues to inspire others.