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Sterling Drug to purchase Worthington’s GuidePoint Pharmacy

WORTHINGTON — Sterling Drug will purchase GuidePoint Pharmacy­ Worthington on June 7, with all GuidePoint customers being transferred to Sterling Worthington as of June 9.

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Letters describing the sale, and the planned transition of customer prescriptions and information, were mailed to GuidePoint and Sterling Drug customers late last week.

Pharmacist Jason Turner, a native of Storden who operated GuidePoint for the past 10 years, began his career with Sterling Worthington in 1994 after earning his pharmaceutical degree from the University of Minnesota.

“The big picture for this move is that GuidePoint and Sterling were the only two independent pharmacies left in Worthington, so combining the two into one will make the remaining independent pharmacy here even stronger,” Turner said.

He said the sale was motivated in part by his wish to reduce the stress of being an owner/manager and to allow more time for his family.

“This all started out with another national competitor looking to enter the market here [seeking to purchase GuidePoint], but I wanted to choose someone I knew I could work for, and I knew Sterling’s business model resembled ours a lot closer than the big national chain would,” Turner added.

“Also, I was confident my employees would be taken care of, so this was a lot more comfortable situation than the other one I was considering.”

Turner will join store manager/pharmacist Bryan Hagen, as well as Sterling’s other pharmacists — there will be up to six pharmacists when the transition is complete — and team members, as a full-time employee at Sterling.

In addition, Turner will continue to have an interest in the GuidePoint telepharmacy in Fulda, which he opened 15 months ago, and the GuidePoint Slayton pharmacy, which will celebrate its first anniversary in June.

All current employees of GuidePoint will be offered positions with Sterling Worthington.

“Whether everyone will choose to go there is an individual decision, but it was part of the deal when I negotiated the sale over the past several months, that none of them would be out of jobs or have to take pay cuts,” detailed Turner.

“That made the sale a lot easier.”

Turner acknowledges that GuidePoint and Sterling have competed over the past decade, but he saw that as positive for the community.

“Competition is a healthy thing,” said Turner. “It made both of us better, and was better for the customer, really.

“Sterling is not a locally owned pharmacy, but it is a Minnesota-owned pharmacy, and survey after survey shows that customers prefer independent pharmacies over chains,” he noted.

“Generally, at independent pharmacies, customers will see the same faces for years and years on end, because there isn’t such a high staff turnover rate.

“Customers get more of the personal touch in independent stores like GuidePoint and Sterling,” Turner continued. “You can get a bottle of pills anywhere, but you don’t necessarily get the same patient care and attention everywhere you go.”

The Austin-based Astrup Drug, Inc., owns the local Sterling Drug, which has been in Worthington since 1982 and is one of 18 Minnesota pharmacies (plus four in Iowa) owned and operated by Astrup.

“Sterling was founded on pharmacy and the belief that the customer always comes first. This philosophy is parallel to the way GuidePoint treated their customers and part of what makes this purchase a perfect fit,” wrote Astrup Chief Operating Officer Sam Ewing in a letter dated May 7 that was mailed to GuidePoint customers.

Local Sterling manager Hagen expressed a similar sentiment that Sterling’s purchase of GuidePoint will be a seamless transition with a positive outcome for existing customers.

“I am excited to welcome Jason to my pharmacy team, and I’m happy to say that he will be bringing his staff with him to Sterling as well,” Hagen said. “I’m very impressed with the GuidePoint staff, and they will be a great addition to our store.

“Both pharmacies were strong on their own, but our joining forces will be great for all of our customers and good for the community.”

Added Turner, “The future looks good for independent pharmacies here.”