Bob Long, who led Longs Drug Stores Corp. for more than 20 years, died Thursday after a long illness.

Bob Long, Longs Drug Stores, drug chain, Warren Bryant, CVS, Longs Drugs

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Industry mourns passing of Longs Drug Stores' Bob Long

March 31st, 2014

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – Bob Long, who led Longs Drug Stores Corp. for more than 20 years, died Thursday after a long illness.

Long was the last family member to head the drug chain his father and uncle founded in 1938.

When CVS Caremark Corp. acquired Longs in August 2008, the regional drug chain had 521 stores in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona. Longs also had a subsidiary, Rx America, which offered prescription benefits management services to more than 8 million members and prescription drug plan benefits to about 450,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

Long started with the drug chain in 1960, working first as a department manager in one of the chain's Hawaii stores and later as a store manager. He returned to the mainland and joined the company's management team in 1970; at that time Longs Drug Stores operated 46 outlets and had annual sales of $144 million.

After becoming president of the company in 1975 and chief executive officer in 1977, Long launched the drug chain and an expansion drive. By 1985 the retailer had grown to 191 stores in six states, and its nearly $1.4 billion in sales made it the industry's sixth-largest chain.

By 2000, when Long relinquished the chief executive officer's post and became chairman, the company had 416 stores and $3.67 billion in sales. In 2003 he was honored with Chain Drug Review's Ronald L. Ziegler Lifetime Achievement Award. He stepped down as chairman later that year, but continued to serve on the board until 2007, when he retired at age 68.

"Bob Long has played an instrumental role in the many milestones that Longs Drugs has achieved," said then chairman, president and CEO Warren Bryant when the retirement was announced in February 2007. "We are all very proud that we could open the 500th Longs Drugs and surpass $5 billion in sales before Bob announced his intentions to retire. The board of directors and the employees of Longs Drugs extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude for what Bob has contributed to the company that his father and uncle founded nearly seventy years ago."