Legacy Pharmacies purchases Moosomin Pharmasave

April 22, 2024, 8:15 am
Kara Kinna

New owners for Moosomin Pharmasave Legacy Pharmacies has purchased Moosomin Pharmasave. From left are Chris Fedorowich with Legacy Pharmacies, Darcy Rambold, the former owner and current manager of Moosomin Pharmasave, and Warren Delmage and Brad Cooper with Legacy Pharmacies. Moosomin Pharmasave has been owned by Darcy Rambold since 2001. Rambold will continue to operate the store as the manager for the next two years. Legacy also owns pharmacies in Redvers, Kipling, Rocanville, Estevan, Souris, Balcarres, and Candle Lake.

Legacy Pharmacies is the new owner of Moosomin Pharmasave.

Darcy Rambold bought the business in 2001, and while he has sold the business, he will continue on as manager at the Moosomin location for two years.

Legacy Pharmacies is a Saskatchewan-owned company that currently operates pharmacies in Rocanville, Kipling, Redvers, Balcarres, Candle Lake, and Estevan. The addition of Pharmasave Moosomin, and the Pharmasave Wellness Centre brings the total number of locations owned by Legacy Pharmacies to eight.

Warren Delmage, Brad Cooper, and Chris Fedorowich with Legacy Pharmacies were all in Moosomin last week to spend some time at their newest location.

Delmage says the group has been interested in Moosomin for some time.

“We’ve been good friends with Darcy ever since we started under the Pharmasave banner,” says Delmage. “We’ve all been under the Pharmasave banner our entire careers and it was a really close-knit group and good network of friends. We just grew a relationship over time and quite a few years ago I had mentioned to Darcy that if he ever thought about selling, that I’d be interested in buying. That was a long time ago. He remembered that and we’ve just kind of grown that over the years. Then when Darcy started thinking about maybe starting to slow down a little bit, he thought of us and we went through a bit of a tender process because he wanted to make sure that it was the best thing for the town and the business, and we came out with the bid.”

“So a 20-year relationship ultimately led to his succession,” adds Fedorowich.

“Our company has been in the business of purchasing community pharmacies for the past five years. Redvers was our first,” says Cooper. “We had previously worked for a larger company that was a pharmacy buyer and we cut our teeth in the business with them and we decided in 2019 that it was time for us to take our lessons and do our own thing. That was the start of the company. So we’ve since been fortunate to work with a lot of amazing pharmacists and acquire different locations—mostly across southeast Saskatchewan and one in northern Saskatchewan—and to build a group of pharmacies, with Pharmasave here in Moosomin now quickly becoming the flagship store for us. It’s just such an amazing business that Darcy has built.

“It’s by far the largest. It’s probably 50 per cent bigger than the next largest store,” says Delmage.

“Most of the communities we are in are smaller communities, like Redvers and Kipling—just smaller centres,” says Cooper. “We did recently open a store in Estevan but it’s a brand new store and it has great potential but the volume is not there yet. So mostly our focus has been on smaller towns, but we’re extremely excited to be in a larger town such as Moosomin. It seems to be a thriving community and definitely a town on the move.”

“That’s our focus,” adds Fedorowich, “to target communities where the drug store has a longstanding legacy, and it’s kind of the mainstay in that community for—well in this case, generation after generation after generation. That’s really our intent, to preserve these very longstanding histories that these stores have established, and continue that.”

What was it that made Legacy Pharmacies want to be in the Moosomin market in particular?

“Well, it’s close to home,” says Delmage. “I grew up on a farm just between Tantallon and Esterhazy and I live in Whitewood, so it’s our closest store physically to me. Just the way that this store has supported the community and the events and other things in the community, we’re very proud of that, and we want to continue that type of thing. We always encourage all of our stores to support the community in as many ways as they can, especially with youth sports and stuff like that.

“Another big draw is that it’s central to some of our other stores too—we have Redvers down the road and Rocanville on the other side down Highway 8 and then we have Kipling which is not that far either. So it’s right in the middle of where we currently are and it made a lot of sense for us to be in this area. When we met the staff, everything gelled really well and everyone fit in really well with the team. Obviously we’ve had our eye on Moosomin for a while because we’ve been friends with Darcy and it just all came together really nicely.”

Delmage says the community won’t see any big changes from the way that Rambold operated the store.

“You won’t see much change as far as the store itself. It’s still going to have the same great customer service that it had and the same great community support that it’s always had,” he says. “Darcy is remaining on with us for two years, so he’s not going anywhere—he just wanted to get rid of some of the headaches of owning the store. So that’s what we’re taking on—we’re taking the headaches off his hands.

“Obviously we want to grow the business too, over time, as the population of Moosomin grows. We have some plans for the mobility centre. It’s a very unique situation with the mobility centre and we want to use it as a little bit of a spoke and hub to maybe branch out to our other stores and market it to a little wider area than what has been done in the past. It’s a very unique situation where a lot of pharmacies don’t have those relationships with the vendors that Darcy has grown over the years too. So it’s something that we can leverage and maybe grow it.”

The three partners say there are some benefits to having a group of pharmacies.

“There definitely are some benefits and it’s mainly on the back end—things like your payroll system and your accounting systems—the stuff we do on the back side,” says Delmage. “We try to partner with pharmacists in the stores that are running the stores with us, are partnered with us, and we take a lot of the headaches off their hands. No one really wants to do all of the HR stuff or all of the payroll stuff and it just takes a lot of time. This way, when we do all of those kinds of things and farm it out to whoever we have partnered with, they can focus more on the patients and delivering service to the community. So it keeps people from burning out while still providing all of the other stuff that they need.

“We’re pharmacists first,” says Fedorowich. “We always say, ‘Focus on your primary responsibility and that is being a pharmacist and providing great care.’ Like Warren said, we can assume some of that administrative burden and you guys focus on running a great store and providing great care.

“And we’re very proud to say that,” adds Delmage. “All of us are from Saskatchewan, we’re all graduates of U of S and we’re all pharmacists, so we have a very deep bench of people to backfill as well. That’s another thing that Darcy really looked at when he was going to sell us his store. He wanted people in place that he could backfill if say, one of the pharmacists gets sick or has to go on vacation or something like that. We are there to help support and be in those roles as much as we can, to make sure that our people aren’t stressed out and like their jobs.”

“We all have a fire in our bellies for the business of pharmacy—we love the business of pharmacy,” says Cooper. “We love being pharmacists as well, but it seems the main core of us as business partners, we have focused a lot of our attention on the business of pharmacy and how rural pharmacy can continue to serve the people that it serves.

“Our model is a little different. We invite all of our operators that are helping us maintain or run the stores, we offer them a partnership in the group as well. That’s something that you don’t see with a lot of large corporates—it’s more of just a job, but we want an avenue for a career and an investment path and share that with the people we’re working with day-to-day. I think that’s a real important cornerstone to our foundation—something that drives us.”

“We look at that too as a positive recruitment and retention tool for us,” adds Fedorowich. “I think with physicians, or whatever profession you’re looking at, it’s an issue with rural practice across the province. How do you attract young talent and keep them in small town Saskatchewan? So this is one way we’re attempting that. They become part of the larger Legacy Pharmacies and we hope that we provide them with more than a job, a life-long career.

“Also, with the number of stores we have, we provide the ability for some of the operators to potentially get their feet wet in a smaller location and then graduate to a larger location. Life circumstances change—people get married, people have kids, and spouses’ jobs change, so the larger our network grows, the more opportunities we provide within the group for people.”

The three partners say that the way that Rambold ran his business was unique in terms of his community involvement.

“I just asked Darcy, because on the front page of the paper this week, it highlights his $100,000 donation to the airport, and we were just chatting after work, and I teased him,” says Fedorowich. “I said, ‘Darcy have you ever tracked the amount of donation that you’ve provided back to the community over the years? Do you have an Excel spreadsheet tracking all of this?’ He said, ‘No, but it’s a lot.’ His philosophy was that the community always supported him and contributed to the success of his business so he obviously felt a responsibility to give some of that success back to Moosomin and area.”

“And Darcy dedicated himself to that store and the community. He put in long hours, grew the business and when he could, added more members to it,” adds Delmage. “So he put in a lot of work and sacrificed a lot to make that business what it is today. It’s a beautiful store and it’s a great business. We’re very lucky and happy to be taking it on.

“We obviously want to grow the business and keep it going. Darcy has a lot of stuff that he can show us as far as what he has done in the past, and we bring a lot of stuff to the table too, and we’re working together to try to make things even better in the dispensary.

“The beauty of now having eight pharmacies—we don’t know everything, far from it, and often independent owners have operated on a bit of an island,” says Fedorowich. “They’ve done great and they’ve done their own thing, but all of a sudden we bring in the knowledge of several other stores to this store, and we’ll extract information from this store and hopefully apply it to our other locations.

“We were all working for other companies and we saw the good and the bad and we wanted to really build a company where we focussed on our people and trying to treat everybody fairly and treat them well and make our pharmacies a positive place to work and a positive place to deal with,” adds Cooper. “When you come in you want to leave feeling like you had a positive experience with your health professional. That’s something that we urge our teams every day to be the best they can.”