FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Steve Mamchur
July 4, 2017
I met Steve this spring – he was providing some advice on supplements to our ‘Flames Fans weight loss group’, and was part of the group too! Smart, funny, friendly, young, less hair than me – and really pro-active about healthy life. Steve Mamchur is not your average or typical pharmacist – and while he wears a white lab coat and works in his pharmacy, there is a good deal of difference.
Steve owns KenRon Compounding Pharmacy. What’s compounding? Exactly – that was my first question. I learned it is ‘a regular pharmacy’ with the additional feature that they make things, mix things and cater to needs of patients who need medications blended together – and often they mix things more conventional pharmacies are not set up to do. Steve bought KenRon (by the Foothills Hospital) when its owner was retiring in 2008 and subsequently expanded to his Glenmore Professional Centre location when his landlord told him about that opportunity. But that’s not his true passion – it’s not providing drugs, but whenever possible providing healthy alternatives, focusing on wellness and his compounding of supplements.
Steve began life in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Dad was in the gravel business, mom a pharmacist. They divorced when Steve was in the ninth grade. Mom got remarried to a physician. Steve, first born of three, did his K-12 schooling in Prince Albert – it came easily for him. “I got good grades without much work”. His University of Saskatchewan career began through a transfer program begun in Prince Albert. His initial ambition to be a doctor for set aside after shadowing some docs left him wishing for a different choice. He applied to the Pharmacy Program and completed his degree in the conventional four years. And he got thinking about Commerce, wanting business experience and more education – which led to an interning opportunity in Tampa, Florida where he got far more familiar with compounding than he had chances to do helping out in his mother’s pharmacy – and he had ambitions to recruit Canadian pharmacists to join him. He learned about combining multiple drugs. He saw some opportunities, particularly in the supplement field but FDA rules were onerous – so back to Prince Albert, compounding products in Canada where rules were more friendly but he found market resistance. He took a brief diversion to explore a law career: success with LSATs, one year of Law School at U of S, turned out out not to be the thrill he wanted. And mom needed help at her dispensary. Steve jumped back in and got entrepreneurial – helped develop a professional building with his mother’s pharmacy as anchor tenant. His desire to replicate a similar model here in Calgary is on his agenda …
So, what brought him to Calgary in 2008? Several things collided – a reconnection with a former classmate Shannon Rennie through a mutual friend. “I wanted to date her in university but she was always dating someone else!”. Following that re-connection he didn’t hesitate to move to Calgary. About that same time, a conversation with a friend’s wife who knew the retiring owner of KenRon Pharmacy was on the verge of selling to a pharmacy group. That deal faltered and Steve made an offer at just the right time. He won the day – buying KenRon in 2009, expanding to the Glenmore location in 2012. And he’s still together with Shannon (she’s a lawyer with Credit Union Central), no kids – and they travel lots.
Steve’s love of professional sports and the athletes – he’s a big Stampeders and Flames fan – has led to some interesting connections, providing his supplement compounding services to a number of professional athletes. And he likes to hang out with his heroes …
Why are you successful? “Because I’m happy, and by being happy I can help people around me be happier. I’m content and do things I want to do. I have a ‘make it happen’ attitude. I believe I can will things into being if I want to badly enough. The glass is half-full, not half-empty, and I don’t like to take no for an answer.”
What has held you back? “Holding my focus. In the past, ego. I’ve had fear hold me back from unleashing my energy. I know I’m operating at about 10% of my capability …”
And yes, he gave me some interesting supplements – and while I don’t understand everything he told me about what’s in them, I’m absolutely convinced they are better choices for my health than Brand X in the grocery store.
How do you see your “compounding pharmacy, drug store, logical medicine, health problem solver creating novel solutions” business going forward over the next quarter?
… things are great. We are expecting, over this next year, to double our volume of business. We create designer supplements – nobody is doing it. It’s putting probiotics in your smoothie, and a lot more …
And over the next five years?
… in our industry, my hope and expectation is that there will be more stores like ours – which will be evidence more customers are taking a more active role in their health quality as they see the value of working with someone helping them be healthy.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… character. I want people who automatically care – they aren’t just in it for the money. People who share my core values. Problem solvers, passionate people. And when it comes to things quality is more important than just price.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Steve Mamchur, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… My passion and enthusiasm. I’m not a normal pharmacist. I’m a problem solver. I care about other people’s health and happiness.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… structured autonomy. I try to find people I trust who complement me. They work within guidelines we set together.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… lately, nothing. I’ve formulated a great sleep supplement for myself, and for customers, that doesn’t leave me laying awake …
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my mom. She showed me by example how to be a determined and positive person, to be a force for good. Her success has inspired me. And Shannon, she’s helped me to be a better person.
… travel, travel, travel, sports – Flames season tickets, signed up for Oakland Raiders tickets – they are moving to Las Vegas. Short trips, Vegas, going to London this fall. I’m not so much into ‘things’ as I am experiences for myself and to share with others. I give lots of sports tickets away to staff and to clients.
What do you read?
… business books mostly – Start With Why, Good To Great …
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