Written by The Business Journal Staff
Whether you have half a dozen prescriptions filled each month or you just need to pick up a bottle of cough syrup, your neighborhood pharmacy is likely a place you frequent, especially when you are feeling under the weather.
With chain pharmacies popping up on each corner, it’s easy to get a hold of that much-needed medicine. While convenient, the big pharmacies don’t always deliver that same level of customer service and the personal touch you often find at a locally owned pharmacy.
Madera Medical Pharmacy is one of the few remaining locally owned and operated pharmacies in the area, and co-owners Ashley and Michael Melikian, who inherited the business from their late father Rodney, believe it to be the oldest locally owned pharmacy in Madera, having opened its doors in 1979.
The family pharmacy is currently one of three finalists for the Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year, an award given to only one pharmacy in the nation. The other two nominees are in North Arlington, New Jersey, and Fruitland, Idaho.
Good Neighbor Pharmacy is an organization that represents more than 3,200 locally owned and operated pharmacies nationwide. More than 300 of these pharmacies are in California, and Madera Medical Pharmacy is one of about 20 in the Central Valley.
Ashley Melikian said Madera Medical Pharmacy is being recognized for its exemplary customer service, something she attributes to her father and his legacy.
“The biggest thing my father was about was customer service and trying to serve the people the best we can,” Melikian said.
Lori Pryce, the pharmacy’s manager, worked with Rodney Melikian for many years and was moved to nominate Madera Medical for the award after attending last year’s Good Neighbor Pharmacy conference and witnessing the pharmacy of the year awards ceremony. The July 2015 conference was the first since Rodney’s sudden passing in March 2015.
“I got emotional thinking that Rodney should be up there,” Pryce said. “He took great pride in customer service. I’ve worked in customer service forever and thought I knew a lot, but when I came to Madera Pharmacy, I learned what it is all about.”
The Good Neighbor Pharmacy motto is “Locally owned. Locally operated. Locally loved.” This, Pryce said, is how Rodney Melikian ran his pharmacy — he loved his customers.
“Locally loved means a great deal,” Pryce said. “It is what sets a good business apart from the rest. It’s that you feel you are making a difference in people’s lives.”
Melikian said her father also showed his commitment to customers by being innovative and keeping up with the latest technology and equipment to best serve both customers in the store and those who have their prescriptions delivered.
“We are more than just a retail pharmacy; we cater to the residential area as well,” Melikian said. “We deliver medications to residents in Madera and those in Fresno, Chowchilla and other areas. We service many of the senior living facilities like Cottonwood Court and Cedarbrook, where we deliver medications. We have over 32 employees now and we have an automated system to fill prescriptions. It is a big operation that dad built.”
After Rodney’s passing, Melikian said she, her mother and her brother knew they had to keep the pharmacy going. Although both she and her brother have jobs in other industries, taking on ownership of the pharmacy is something they knew they wanted to do to keep Madera Medical locally owned and to continue their father’s legacy.
“I saw how many lives he had touched through this pharmacy and I always knew that this was his baby,” Melikian said.
To be nominated for such a prestigious award is an honor to Rodney’s memory, Melikian said. She only wishes her father were here to celebrate the accomplishment.
“It truly means a lot to me that my father’s pharmacy has been nominated,” Melikian said. “He did this for so long and we’re just carrying on his legacy and doing this for him. It feels almost bittersweet because he is not here. I’m truly touched that we’re a finalist.”
The winner of Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year will be determined by votes. Those who would like to vote for Madera Medical Pharmacy can go online at http://www.mygnp.com/pharmacy-of-the-year. The last day to vote is July 24. The winner will be announced on July 28.