Wholesale success Featured

12:36pm EDT June 27, 2005

Dale Smith Jr. joined his father's company, H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co., in 1974, and worked virtually every job in the organization, learning the business from the ground up.

In 1984, Smith Jr. became president and CEO of the company, and under his leadership, it went through significant growth in the 1990s. From 1995 to 2000, Smith acquired or started up operations in Texas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey, focusing on improving operations, integrating the acquired businesses and improving margins.

Two techniques illustrate Smith's entrepreneurial spirit.

* Expansion philosophy. H.D. Smith expanded to establish independent distribution centers in each major metro area. A key aspect was to establish sales forces and customer relationships in an area prior to locating a distribution center there. This provided for profitable operations immediately - an important concept in a business where margins are very thin.

* Customer initiatives. Dale Smith Jr. has led several programs to make customers successful in a world where the vast majority of drug purchases are at the major chains. The idea is to have loyal, profitable customers as the backbone of Smith's growth and expansion plans.

Smith's vision has made the company the fourth-largest national drug wholesaler.