H. D. Smith was featured in the 2017 Chain Drug Review Annual Report of Drug Wholesalers. Below is the interview with Rob Meriweather, corporate vice president of sales, H. D. Smith. 

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As an independent wholesaler, H. D. Smith LLC shares a strategic alignment with other independent pharmacy operators, says Rob Meriweather, corporate vice president of sales for the company.

“Unlike our competitors, we choose not to service national chain, big box or mail order pharmacies, so we don’t have any conflicts of interest when it comes to servicing pharmacies on Main Street,” he adds. “We aren’t using profits from our customers to fund initiatives with other entities, who ultimately compete with independent pharmacies in the marketplace. We put all our profits back into rewarding our associates and investing in the success of the company and our customers.”

Meriweather notes that H. D. Smith’s mission is to be the preferred, customer-focused, national supplier of health care products and business solutions, improving the quality, safety and cost of patient care while maintaining the highest level of honesty and integrity. While achieving those goals may seem like a tall order, each piece of that mission statement is critical to the company, according to Meriweather. Since 1954, H. D. Smith has built a reputation for excellence in health care distribution. The company was founded with a culture that still resonates throughout the organization today — that being “to do what’s right and provide customers an extraordinary experience.”

Alongside distribution, H. D. Smith offers several services to help the independent pharmacy owner operate a more efficient and profitable business, improve patient-based quality outcomes, and maximize margin opportunities, Meriweather says. “This includes the recent formation of the Arete Pharmacy Network, the nation’s largest independently owned PSAO [pharmacy services administrative organization],” he adds.

Additional areas of H. D. Smith’s business include Smith Medical Partners — a specialty distribution center that specializes in specialty products, vaccines and 3PL services. Recently the company added Triplefin to the collective H. D. Smith companies. Triplefin is a service-oriented organization supporting manufacturers in the launch and ongoing marketing efforts for medications, including prior authorizations, financial assistance programs and much more. Combined, these services create an extraordinary end-to-end value proposition throughout the supply chain, supporting medications from development to distribution and from dispensing to adherence.

According to Meriweather, H. D. Smith is the fourth-largest national wholesaler, operating seven full-line distribution centers, a dedicated home health care and durable medical equipment facility, and a specialty distribution center (Smith Medical Partners). “We deliver next-day to all 50 states, and do same-day delivery in some metropolitan areas,” Meriweather says. Additionally, the company’s supply chain integrity teams have implemented TraceLink over the last few years to ensure compliance to the Drug Supply Chain Security Act.

Meriweather points out that H. D. Smith uses a variety of integrated software and tools within its distribution centers to ensure products are efficiently picked, packed and shipped to its pharmacy customers. “These resources give the operations team the ability to perform automated daily tasks without issues,” he says. “The connected systems also analyze, react, adapt and address complex issues that other warehouses without these technologies would struggle to accomplish.”

The history of H. D. Smith dates back more than 60 years, with vendor and customer relationships that span nearly the entirety of that time line, Meriweather says. Another factor in H. D. Smith’s continued success, according to Meriweather, is the company’s embrace of change — a reality that is rapidly and continually reshaping the industry.

“We are continually transforming the organization to meet the needs of our customers, trading partner or patients we ultimately serve,” Meriweather says. “H. D. Smith sees an amazing opportunity for our pharmacy customers to embrace our recently launched tools that will help them better understand their business, operate for more profits and provide care for better outcomes.”

Meriweather cites the new pay for performance (P4P) guidance as an example, saying that it should be a very positive change for independent pharmacy owners. “Today, income is predicated on outcomes, which is what independent pharmacies have excelled at for years.” More than just a wholesaler and distributer, Meriweather says H. D. Smith is an extension of each of its pharmacy customers — serving as “business consultants,” as Meriweather puts it. “We have a variety of offerings, but each pharmacy has different needs and pain points, so we adjust our offerings to them.”

H. D. Smith also works with its pharmacy customers to ensure they are conducting the best business practices in order to enhance their profitability. Meriweather likens this to a wheel with many spokes — “we take our customers through each spoke, checking to ensure their performance is tracking against industry standards.” For instance, some of those spokes look at how the pharmacy performs related to inventory days on hand, accounts receivable turns and gross profit. By not only evaluating its customers on each of these metrics, but also teaching them along the way, the company is able to work with independent pharmacy owners to ensure success and longevity.

One step H. D. Smith recently took to enhance its relationships with its pharmacies is the rededication of its salesforce. Doing so, Meriweather points out, allows for better communication with its customers about their business operations and profit diversification opportunities. “This includes front-of-store offerings like Hamacher, controlled label goods, pet medications and even supplies,” he says. And behind the counter, the company’s pharmacies are sharing best practices that range from adherence packaging to specialty medications and even new store acquisition and startup. “The H. D. Smith team is expertly trained to coach our pharmacy customers through each of these opportunities, knowing that each pharmacy is unique in their needs and markets,” Meriweather says.

Along with the rededication of the company’s salesforce, H. D. Smith’s executive team has a renewed focused on collaboration as well. “Our collective companies are tightly integrated, especially on the executive leadership level,” Meriweather says. “This helps H. D. Smith navigate the supply chain for better patient care at each point the company touches.” The company recently welcomed Ross Davison as its chief financial officer. Though the company doesn’t reveal its financial reporting, Meriweather says the company is pleased with its position in the market and “continues to look for new ways to support the profitability and sustainability of independent pharmacy.”

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