I couldn’t let this week go by without noting the passing of another of the hugely talented, but low-profile retail innovators who made the chain drug store industry the powerhouse it is today.
As Drug Store News reported June 5, Stephen LaFrance died unexpectedly last Wednesday at the age of 71. LaFrance’s passing came less than nine months after he sold his powerhouse regional pharmacy business, USA Drug, to rival Walgreens for $438 million. So, sadly, he didn’t get much chance to relax and enjoy the harvest of a lifetime of hard work in the drug store industry.
LaFrance never sought the limelight as a business leader or health professional, preferring to toil quietly but successfully in the shadow of Walmart and other national retailers. So he may be unknown to many pharmacists and pharmacy students.
To LaFrance, that lack of renown never mattered much. His is a remarkable, rags-to-riches success story in pharmacy, retailing and wholesaling, and it would make a good case study in any pharmacy school business curriculum.