Smith Drug Company Established
Smith Drug Company was established by James Smith as the first of several divisions now comprising J M Smith Corporation. With its roots as a hometown pharmacy in Asheville, NC, Smith Drug Company was capitalized in 1943 at just $75,000. Smith Drug Company led the way in employee care and retention, establishing its first bonus plan and profit-sharing retirement trust.
Jim Smith Brings Change
Smith Drug Company was recapitalized and a plan was approved for the company to operate as a wholesaler, with each former Smith retail drug store to buy as much as possible from Smith Drug Company. J.M. Smith was elected President in January of 1948 and in 1949 J.M. Smith resigned offices in all affiliates, a term used at the time for retail drug stores. It was announced that from now on the company would be known as Smith Wholesale Drug Company.
A Tragic Loss
James Smith, Jim's father, dies tragically. A special meeting of the Board of Directors was called following the sudden death. Shortly after, Jim Smith resigned as President and Treasurer and assumed title of Executive Vice President. H.D. Smith was elected President and Treasurer.
Early Expansion & Growth
Discussion begins surrounding blueprints for a new Smith Wholesale Drug Company building to be built at the corner of Wofford and Forest Streets in Spartanburg, SC. Creation of a new corporation — independent of Smith Wholesale Drug — to own the new building was considered, but no decision was made.
Outstanding Sales & New Acquisitions
The Board of Directors authorizes $250,000 to purchase the IBM computer Smith Drug Company had been renting. Jim Smith noted that the financed purchase price over four years would be partially offset by new computer services revenue — a forward-thinking analysis that would prove to be one of Jim's hallmark decisions for J M Smith Corporation. Sales appear to be the best in the company's history.
A New Business Vertical
The drug company is renamed to Smith Drug Company. Sales are in excess of $4M with data processing business increasing by 90% and an acquisition of an IBM 1401, which will be paid for by year’s end — 2 years earlier than even Jim Smith expected.
Smith Data Processing (SDP)
The entire state of South Carolina is being considered as a market for county government business and the company may need a branch operation. Jim Smith signals that the bright spot for Smith Drug is in data processing, "Which is doing a remarkable job." The Smith Data Processing (SDP) Division is later established, and Jim looks for an opportunity to acquire land near I-85 and 1-26 to accommodate future growth.
Pharmacy Automation Systems
Jim Smith discovers some areas where mini-computers could be useful in data processing work. Five days later, IBM launched the IBM Series/1. Soon after, key members of senior staff attend a seminar where a prototype pharmacy automation system was demonstrated. An IBM Series/1 loaner is expected soon and the company has committed to purchase 35 more from IBM. The company quickly begins work on a pharmacy automation system based on the Series/1, which is successfully deployed and marketed as QS/1 Systems — a division which thrives to this day.
The Birth of J M Smith Corporation
At a special meeting, a company name change from Smith Drug Company to J M Smith Corporation was approved. Smith Data Processing (SDP) and QS/1 become registered trademarks in an effort to distinguish data processing and automation from drug distribution operations. The new corporation’s founding date is October 12, 1979.
New Management and Products
The J M Smith Corporation Board of Directors approves divisional officers for the first time. Bill Shelley is named President, Smith Drug Company. While QS/1 grows rapidly and deploys their 400th pharmacy automation system, Bill Cobb introduces a new product line: Durable Medical Equipment. Now known as Home Medical Equipment (HME), the product line continues to be fully stocked, supported and offered to this day.
Good Times, Bad Times
Bill Shelley, President of Smith Drug Company, oversees a sales increase of 22%. Meanwhile, QS/1 expands into new territory and increases production, pushing past their 1,000th installed system. But tragedy strikes again when Jim Smith, founder of Smith Data Processing (SDP) and J M Smith Corporation, and visionary leader behind early development of QS/1, dies unexpectedly from a heart attack while enjoying an outdoor run. He was only 59.
A New Leader for Smith Drug Company
After thirty-nine years of service to J M Smith Corporation, Bill Shelley retires and hands the reins over to Ken Couch. To familiarize himself with the operation of the distribution warehouse, Ken spent some time picking orders, which was still done by paper and clipboard. The equipment was dated, but Ken soon realized he had inherited a first-class group of employees.
Smith Drug Company business is booming. Sales volume has increased dramatically and new warehouse capacity is needed. J M Smith Corporation and Smith Drug Company execute plans to expand an existing warehouse by 45,000 sq ft, effectively doubling capacity.
A Suburban Campus
Ken Couch decided that a suburban campus would be most appropriate for future growth of Smith Drug Company. Private offices were elected over open environments wherever feasible, and the campus boasts walking paths, a gym, and on-site direct care physicians. The expansive warehouse was designed to accommodate the latest in automated equipment, including an intricate carrousel order-picking system.
As Smith Drug expanded to the west, a decision was made to open a distribution center in Paragould, Arkansas. The facility, housed in a 100,000 square foot building constructed by local industry seekers, was opened in 2004. About 50 persons are employed in the distribution center, which is managed by Wade Lewis.
Smith Drug Company continued to expand its geographical reach, opening a second 108,000 square ft. fully automated distribution facility in Valdosta, Georgia. The new facility, managed by Bruce Allred, employs about 50 people. The Valdosta distribution center services customers in Florida, South Georgia, and south Alabama.
A Proud Heritage and Bright Future
J M Smith Corporation is now listed among the World’s Most Ethical Companies. This list, researched and compiled by the Ethisphere Institute, includes such corporate giants as Ford Motor Company, Adobe Systems, and Milliken and Company.
Meeting Challenges & Moving Forward
After 35 years of dedicated service to the organization, Ken Couch, RPh, retires from his position as President. New challenges in the pharmacy and healthcare industry demand a leader that can meet and surpass them. That leader was found in Jeff Foreman, RPh, who took the reins in June. In keeping with tradition and core values, Jeff Foreman is a registered pharmacist with the background and skill set to turn new challenges in the industry into opportunity and success for the company and its valued customers.