Paul Tam, president and owner of Evergreen Health Mart Pharmacy at Geary Boulevard and 20th Avenue, has been with the company for more than 25 years. Evergreen, one of the few remaining independent pharmacies in San Francisco, has served The City for 95 years. In March, Tam helped shepherd the deal that made Evergreen one of the 1,300 independent franchise pharmacies overseen by Health Mart.
Running an independent pharmacy in San Francisco is becoming increasingly difficult, Tam said. Fifteen years ago, San Francisco had 300 independent retail pharmacies; today there are 50. According to Tam, Health Mart may help Evergreen remain open.
“It’s a very challenging environment,” Tam said. “There are different customers every day with different prescriptions.”
At 3,800 square feet, Evergreen is the largest independent pharmacy in San Francisco; at eight employees, its staff is tiny.
“We give out the best service,” Tam said. In the 25 years Tam has worked with Evergreen, he estimates they have had 10 to 25 customers who have been with them the entire time and 300 to 400 total customers. In addition to providing the usual drugstore services, a grocery and gifts and cosmetics departments, Evergreen provides after-hours delivery service and language support and signage for Cantonese-, Mandarin- and Russian-speaking customers.
Health Mart provides private label medications, advertising matching funds and an online marketing tool kit. Health Mart helps small independent pharmacies increase their purchasing power to get better bulk rates on drugs, as well as speed up the reimbursement rate from insurance companies. Health Mart also hosts in-store health and wellness events, and provides a 90-day out clause — at any time, with no penalty.
Health Mart is owned by McKesson, a national health care services and information technology company headquartered in San Francisco. To participate in the Health Mart franchise, pharmacies pay a small monthly fee that is not associated with revenue and must accept help with merchandising and advertising. In the last 10 months, Health Mart has grown by nearly 400 percent, making it the fastest-growing pharmacy franchise in the United States.
Tam earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton in 1974 and is a member of the California Pharmacists Association.
New project: I will be updating my pharmacy computer system and adding a new point-of-sale machine
Last project: Joining Health Mart
Number of e-mails a day: Several
Number of voice mails a day: Not many
Essential Web site: www.mckesson.com
Best perk: The satisfaction of working in a wonderful community
Gadgets: Dell computer
Education: Doctor of Pharmacy, University of the Pacific, Stockton, 1974
Last conference: The San Francisco Pharmacy Association conference
First job: I was a waiter at a Chinese restaurant (don’t remember the name)
Original aspiration: To be a soccer player
Career objective: My objective is serving the community
Likes: Family and sports, especially soccer, football and water-skiing
Dislikes: Lazy and dishonest people
Defining quirks: Washing cars on Sunday
Hometown: Since 1974, San Mateo; I was born in Hong Kong.
Transportation: Toyota truck
Favorite restaurant: Home cooking; my favorites are beef, vegetables and fish
Vacation spot: Anywhere my kids want to go; I next want to explore Europe and Asia
Favorite clothier: What my wife buys
Role model: My parents, wife and children
Reading: San Francisco Examiner, the Chronicle, Sing Tao and pharmacy magazines, especially California Pharmacist
Worst fear: My computer breaking down and the Raiders leaving Oakland
Motivation: My family