Beyond Established Horizons
By Bruce Freeman
Mark Mandel, of Roselle, Illinois, is an entrepreneur, a compounding pharmacist, and a Tourette syndrome sufferer who has never let a challenge stop him from striving to be the best. After completing his B.S. in chemistry and biology at Illinois Wesleyan and pharmacy school at the University of Illinois, he is presently enrolled at a clinical doctoral program at Midwestern University. Intending to open his own business some day, he wanted to gain experience working for what he considered to be the best retail pharmacy in the US, so he went to work as a staff pharmacist for Walgreen’s. In 1987, a group opportunity to purchase a 400 square-foot pharmacy in Schaumburg became the first Mark Drugs store. Since ’87, Mark Drugs has expanded to a mall store in Roselle, Ill and thousands of square-feet focused on herbal wellness and nutrition, special products for cancer patients, home and hospital equipment, and four state-of-the-art medication compounding laboratories for both humans and animals. Mark Drugs is different from traditional drug stores because greeting cards and household products are not offered for sale. Mark Drugs offers strictly healthcare products and services, including independent clinicians who see patients on-site. At Mark Drugs, 30,000 patients annually have the option of seeking the services of physicians and professionals specializing in a variety of disciplines including, menopause, wound care, nutrition and massage therapy.
Oddly enough, what started Mark Mandel down the pharmacological road was not his diagnoses of the neurological disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, but an auto accident in 1978. In serious pain, he experienced the inadequacies of pain management by traditional pharmacology. Based on his personal interest, he directed his education toward pharmacology, and over time, developed an effective approach by combining prescription medication and herbal alternatives to create creams, which block pain at the site of the injury. Further investigation and experimentation led him to create pain relief for other maladies, including a trigger point migraine gel, which can help reduce or alleviate dependence on prescription medications. Soon, compounding, as the process is known, became his purpose and his calling. He also developed the philosophy that you can work past anything that restricts you personally or physically. This philosophy helped him cope when he was diagnosed with a mild form of Tourette’s. He feels fortunate that the onset of the Tourette’s wasn’t until he was an adult, and he believes that he became more sympathetic and empathetic to the pain and well being of others because of his own diagnoses. He also believes that giving back to the community is a part of his success and that the rewards of giving are far greater than the costs. Along these lines, he volunteers as the Race Director for the annual, Run for the Roses, the largest fundraiser in Illinois to benefit Tourette’s sufferers. He also hosts a nationally-listed pharmacy museum which items span from a seventh century mortar and pestle, through Civil War medical memorabilia, right up to bottles and pharmacological items from prohibition.
Professor Bruce’s Words of Wisdom
Mark Mandel is another great American entrepreneur. He told me that an ad executive once gave him a piece of advice when he was a student working as a limo driver. The man told him that if he wanted to succeed at business, he had a decision to make: he could either latch onto the coattails of someone who was brilliant or be brilliant on his own. Mark has managed to do both: he educated himself to succeed at a traditional business and then morphed that business with a different focus and new directions. He wasn’t afraid to innovate. He tried new things - some worked and some didn’t. He didn’t let personal challenges stop him; he turned those challenges into assets.
Expand a traditional business beyond established borders.
Could This Work For Me?
Established businesses have invisible walls – don’t ask why, ask why not?