Chairman advises: "listen, learn and engage"
PALM BEACH, Fla. — In his first remarks as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Mark Panzer thanked those who have taught and collaborated with him throughout his 46-year retail career. He said that NACDS chain and associate members alike can rely on the same formula of “listen, learn and engage” to confront both rapid change and the timeless pursuit of serving the customer.
“We all have those people, those mentors who push us and mold us,” said Panzer, who is senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness at Albertsons Cos. “They are trusted partners who share in our success. We are lucky to have an organization like NACDS which provides a venue for introductions, collaboration and neutral ground to build lasting partnerships and relationships.”
Panzer delivered his remarks during today’s business program at the NACDS Annual Meeting. “As I start this chairmanship, it really is an extension of what I’ve been taught, and what I’ve tried to do throughout my career,” he said. “That’s taking care of the patient and the customer, working well with our partners, and taking care of all our team members along the way. I believe everyone in this room – retailers and suppliers – shares these goals. There is so much we can do, and specifically so much we can do through NACDS.”
Panzer focused on three topics: changes in retail, the importance of NACDS’ all-industry approach encompassing diverse chains and suppliers, and crucial public policy issues that NACDS is addressing.
He described rapid acceleration in the speed and scope of change – and the demand for speed in response – particularly as it relates to e-commerce and its relationship with brick-and-mortar retailing. He said the personal connection in retail remains essential. “We have better tools, better data, better analytical skill. We need to utilize all of these things in this rapidly changing retail environment. But native intelligence, gained through frontline experience and face-to-face customer interaction, is invaluable and must still play a critical role at the decision-making table.”
He credited NACDS with “doing a lot to bring retailers and suppliers together, to really tackle the issues of today and tomorrow. NACDS has fantastic senior-level engagement from drug, food and mass – national and regional players alike. Among our associate members, we have that same senior-level engagement, and tremendous diversity across all products and services.”
He hailed the work of the NACDS Retail Advisory Board, which includes front-end suppliers and retailers alike, and which makes recommendations to the NACDS board.
Regarding public policy, Panzer said that NACDS’ advocacy reflects the ultimate goal of pharmacy and of retail, which is to serve the patient and the customer. “The fact is that there are barriers to accomplishing that goal, and we need to continue to aggressively address these barriers. There also are many opportunities for us to do more for patients, and we need to continue to focus on those opportunities.”
“I like how NACDS is talking about this, in terms of what we call our ‘Access Agenda,’” Panzer said. “It really does come down to the three parts of the Access Agenda: offense, defense, and addressing issues that matter to the well-being of our communities. When you look at all of the business challenges we are facing, I cannot emphasize enough, just how important it is to have NACDS representing all of us, and taking on these public policy issues.”
He emphasized the importance of direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform, expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice, and continuing to serve as part of the solution to the opioid abuse epidemic. He also noted the importance of chains and suppliers continuing to collaborate for innovative solutions to challenges faced by society, such as those described in NACDS’ 2017 Chain Pharmacy Community Engagement Report, which was unveiled during Sunday’s Annual Meeting business program.
Today’s business program also included remarks by best-selling author and business educator Jim Collins, David Pothast, US chief customer officer for Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., which supported the session, and Jack Bailey, president of U.S. pharmaceuticals for GlaxoSmithKline, which also supported the program.