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The Rise of Mendham Pharmacy

Updated on December 6, 2015

Disclaimer

The names of the people in this journalism piece have been altered, but the story itself is accurate.

Jack Latosha:

Mendham Borough native Jack Latosha began his path to becoming not only a pharmacist, but a successful business owner at a young age. Jack Latosha grew up in a family where the family calling was pharmacy. Inspiration to continue the career path that many of his family members pursued came from his Uncle William (Bill), who he often visited as a young boy. It was the time spent with his Uncle that caused a young Jack Latosha to truly find his love for pharmacy and his inspiration to aspire to possess his own one day.

“Pharmacy looked like a good career because my Uncle Bill was a pharmacist and I often visited him and I liked the life that he had,” said Jack. “I liked the idea of working with people and advising them on their medical needs.”

Years later Jack was a graduate of Rutgers College of Pharmacy at age 23 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a burning desire to open his own pharmacy. Jack gained experience and refined his skill set through working as a pharmacist in a pharmacy in Morris County, New Jersey. Jack was in his mid-30’s when he fulfilled his dream of opening his own pharmacy.

—more—

“I loved to be on my own and make my own decisions for myself,” said Jack. “I also thought it would be a much more profitable situation for me.”

Jack did not take the monumental risk of opening his own business without guidance or assistance. Before beginning the endeavor Jack sought out a few of the friends he made at Rutgers College of Pharmacy to act as business partners as well as some family members.

“The first person I went into business with was my cousin who was also a pharmacist and we very much relied on each other’s experience,” he said.

After gaining the assistance, support, and guidance of his friends and family, Jack set about turning his dream into a reality. While the one-time dream did transcend into reality it was not without hurdles.

“Always it was very challenging. We first had trouble coming up with enough money to purchase the pharmacy. We also faced challenges in financing the inventory in the pharmacy. We were growing the pharmacy at a much faster rate than we originally anticipated which required a lot of capital,” Jack explained.

It took a few years for Jack Latosha to build his pharmacy business enough to consider it a success but he finally made it.

“I think it was the way we dealt with our customers,” he said. “We honestly enjoyed working with people and wanted to help them. I feel like our customers knew that and it was one of the main reasons that they kept coming back.”

—more—

Jack maintained this level of success for 20 years.

“I think it was our ability to deal with people,” Jack said of his relationship with his customers. “We both enjoyed the people we dealt with and the people realized it, and the business kept on increasing because of that.”

At the age of 22, Jack’s son, Ken Latosha, graduated from Massachusetts' College of Pharmacy with a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy and began working with his father as a pharmacist at Mendham Pharmacy. Ken worked with his father until the pharmacy was sold 10 years later.

Ken agreed that the pharmacy’s success relied on their ability to care for their customers on a personal level.

“About a year after I started working for my father we got a new patient named Elizabeth James. She was an older woman who had chronic back pain from an old injury who over time

“About a year after I started working for my father we got a new patient named Elizabeth James. She was an older woman who had chronic back pain from an old injury who, over time, had become addicted to her pain pills,” Ken explained. “Her doctor would only allow her to get more pills if she was able to pick them up from a pharmacy daily so as to prevent her from taking more than she needed; However due to Elizabeth James’ physical condition it was unlikely that she would be able to get to a pharmacy daily.

—more—

When Elizabeth James first came to Mendham Pharmacy she explained the issue to my father and I; my father immediately assured her that we would deliver her pills to her daily. So from that day on I delivered pain pills to Elizabeth James every morning before my shift.”

“This was just one instance of many where my father’s ability to truly care and empathize with his customers would assure the customer’s loyalty,” Ken continued. “In this case Elizabeth James remained a loyal customer of Mendham Pharmacy until she passed away.”

Martine Salinger, now Martine Latosha, became a loyal customer of Mendham Pharmacy because of Jack Latosha's honest desire to help and care for his customers.

“There was this one time when I stepped on a rusty nail and it went through my shoe while I was walking my dog,” said Martine. “It was late at night so I had to go to the ER for treatment; they wrapped up my foot and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic. However the ER’s pharmacy did not have any of the medicine I needed in stock. I went to Mendham Pharmacy, but I found that they were closed; however there was a sign on the door with the owner’s personal phone number for afterhours prescription needs. I gave the number a try and Jack Latosha picked up, I explained the situation to him and he offered to have his son come down to the pharmacy right way to fill my prescription.”

“This was the exact moment I decided to become a regular at Mendham Pharmacy. Both Jack and Ken Latosha went out of their way to help me out and it made me feel like they cared about me as a person instead of just for the money I was paying them,” Martine added.

—more—

Martine was so impressed that she’s now married to Ken. Having succeeded in fulfilling his dream Jack Latosha was glad that he took the risk to accomplish his dream

“I was really happy with our decisions and the way it turned out. I was very happy with owning our own pharmacy.” Jack said. “In today’s world I would not have decided to take the risk to open my own pharmacy because of the competition in today’s market and the lower profitability. In today’s world I would instead have gone into some scientific area such as physics or research.”

While Jack would not open his own pharmacy in today’s world he does not discourage others from opening one. However he does have some advice.

“I would be worried about it in today’s atmosphere because of the competition from the various chain pharmacies and the lower profit. So I would advise them to really get a good grasp of the financial responsibilities they would be facing,” he added.

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Q&A: Jack Latosha

Q: What first motivated you to go into pharmacy as a career path?

A: Pharmacy looked like a good career because my uncle was a pharmacist and I often visited him and I liked the life that he had. I liked the idea of working with people and advising people on their medical needs.

Q: What college did you graduate from and with what degree?

A: Rutgers College of pharmacy with a Bachelor of Science degree

Q: How old where you when you graduated college?

A: I was about 23 years old give or take a year.

Q: How old where you when you opened your pharmacy?

A: I was somewhere in my mid-30’s when I opened my pharmacy.

Q: What motivated you to open your own pharmacy instead of working at an already successful pharmacy?

A: I loved to be on my own and make my own decisions for myself. I also thought it would be a much more profitable situation for me.

Q: Did you have any guidance for opening your own business (a friend, relative, colleague, or mentor who offered you assistance)?

—more—

A: I yes I had some friends who advised me on opening up my own pharmacy. The first person I went into business with was my cousin who was also a pharmacist and we very much relied on each other’s experience.

Q: What do you believe made your pharmacy successful?

A: I think it was the way we dealt with our customers. We honestly enjoyed working with people and wanted to help them. I feel like our customers knew that and it was one of the main reasons that they kept coming back.

Q: Did you face any major challenges in keeping your pharmacy open?

A: Always it was very challenging. We first had trouble coming up with enough money to purchase the pharmacy. We also faced challenges in financing the inventory in the pharmacy. We were growing the pharmacy at a much faster rate than we originally anticipated which required a lot of capital.

Q: What factors do you feel contributed the most towards your success?

A: I think it was our ability to deal with people we both enjoyed the people we dealt with and the people realized it and the business kept on increasing because of that.

Q: If you knew someone who was planning on opening their own pharmacy what advice would you give them?

—more—

A: Well I would be worried about it in today’s atmosphere because of the competition from the various chain pharmacies and the lower profit. So I would advise them to really get a good grasp of the financial responsibilities they would be facing.

Q: Looking back, knowing everything you know now, would you make the same decision to open your own pharmacy again?

A: In today’s world I would not have decided to take the risk to open my own pharmacy because of the competition in today’s market and the lower profitability. In today’s world I would instead have gone into some scientific area such as physics or research.

Q: Is there decision that you would change about opening your own pharmacy?

A: No, I was really happy with our decisions and the way it turned out. I was very happy with owning our own pharmacy.

###

References

Latosha, J. (17, October). Jack Latosha Interview Q&A [Personal interview].

Latosha, M. (20, October). Ken Latosha Back Ground Interview on Jack Latosha [Personal interview].

Salinger, M. (17, October). Martine Salinger Back Ground Interview on Jack Latosha [Personal interview].

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