I joined Osco Drug in Iowa City Iowa, in 1963, while attending my final year of pharmacy school at the University of Iowa. I was hired by Fred Dearborn and Bob Frantzen. I needed a part time job and thought these friendly guys would be fun to work with.
I was not disappointed and found quickly that everyone worked hard and had fun. Those were the days when we were converting from marking product with a grease pencil to the Monarch Marking Machine. H&K was our primary wholesaler and most everything else was purchased direct or from traveling vendors, rugs, hot pots, chicken in the can, salami, coffee, lawn mowers, you name it we had it, or would get it. We wrote our own ads - what fun finding ad mats and creating what we thought was a door breaker ad. Our focus then was really a general merchandise store with a pharmacy. We had a lobby manager for the front end and the camera business was huge. From our vet department, I'm convinced we vaccinated every hog in Iowa for cholera.
Our Osco concept of business was really relatively new, since the independent pharmacies dominated the prescription business. Even though our founders had started the chain during the 1930s in the midst of the Great Depression, the idea was now just building momentum. What impressed me most was how committed all the associates were to serving the customer, and how hard everyone worked. During the Christmas season most everyone worked every day from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. It was as a part-timer that I caught the spirit all shared and I wanted to be accepted as a full timer when I graduated from college. I wanted to become an Osco store manager. How shocked was I when after interviewing with the pharmacy recruiter, who was from my home town, I received a rejection letter. Mr. Frantzen, my store manager, assured me that it was a mistake and I would be hired as a fulltime pharmacist.
I was lucky in my career to be surrounded and supported by extremely talented individuals. I was able to enjoy many different positions in almost every area of our business. From our origin to the association with Jewel Companies, the addition of Sav-on and finally on to American Stores Company and on, the spirit and commitment of our company remained our hallmark. This was the place where people shared and cared for each other. A company of strong leaders, talented store managers, associates and central management.
So much contributed to our success, nothing more though than our recruiting and training programs. We were all involved in the recruiting process and understood the importance of having the most capable people. I would love to mention names of so many individuals, in and out of stores that contributed so much to our growth and success, but I won't because there are so many that it would take several pages to do so. We celebrated 75 years of Osco and are approaching 70 years of Sav-on. There are hundreds of associates who have passed away who should be remembered.
There are at least a thousand stories that could be told and maybe another few hundred we promised not to tell. How great a run it was! We shared our accomplishments and yes an occasional failure, but we carried on. Special to me were the annual merchandise shows and social get together. Such wonderful times shared by all. The memories are great.