When I was younger I was a playground equalizer. I would step in where 2 or 3 bullies would be picking on one kid or a big guy picking on a little one. The playground was safe from bullies while I was around.
I was a triple-threat in football; a middle-linebacker on defense, a running back on offense and a kick-returner on special teams. Each of these positions requires very high levels of strength, quickness, skill and courage.
I understand God’s protection better than most. While I was in Vietnam a grenade landed at my feet and didn’t go off. I have been shot at least three times that I know of and haven’t been hit. I was in Saigon during the Viet Cong’s Tet Invasion in 1968 and came home without a scratch.
So, how did a welding-boss become a pharmacist?
After Vietnam I became the welding and fabrication manager for Bastian-Blessing, a large company that built stainless-steel food service equipment for companies like McDonalds and Pizza Hut.
I had quickly worked my way up to become the welding and fabrication manager and was on track to becoming a vice-president or general manager, but I knew I had to change course. I could see what executives had to put their families through in order to achieve success in that industry, but I wasn’t willing to put my family through that.
After a little soul-searching, I realized that I would have a better chance of being successful without having to sacrifice my family if I went back to college and completed my education. I had a couple of years of Pre-Med before I went to Vietnam; but I didn’t have enough time left on my GI Bill to finish Med School, so I chose Pharmacy.
I went to pharmacy school at the age of 28, with my wife and 3 sons. They had to mail me my diploma, because I was too busy opening my first drug store to be able to attend graduation with the rest of my class.
I left that pharmacy after about a year. Like in so many new businesses, my partner and I weren’t on the same page. I worked out a deal with the bank and sold my share of the business. I got most of my money back .
I then bought a failed neighborhood pharmacy that had been completely shuttered; one where two former owners had gone bankrupt. Many years later I sold it to Walgreens.
Looking back, my family and I have enjoyed much more quality time together and are much better off than if I had continued working at Bastian-Blessing.
During that time I helped to found Pharmco, a coalition of about 50 pharmacies and small chain drug stores. We created it in order to earn better discounts from wholesalers and to give us more political clout. As a group, we represented more than 50 million dollars worth of buying power.
As a result of that political clout – even though it took a couple of years – I was able to defeat Blue Cross. It began with me kicking them out of my pharmacy. I received a lot of media coverage and became “that” pharmacist, because no pharmacist had ever done that to them before. I was able, with the help of other healthcare professionals, to convince the legislature to force Michigan Blue Cross to change their one-sided auditing procedures; procedures that were totally unfair and usually resulted in pharmacists owing them $17,000 or more, each time they visited. We were able to level the playing field.
I discovered, while battling Blue Cross, that the head of the Michigan Pharmacists Association was in cahoots with them; that he was actually working against us. We pressured him into resigning.
Fast forward to North Carolina.
After I sold the pharmacy and a couple of other business interests we moved to Charlotte. I found out that my voting precinct needed a chairman. I went for it. After 3 or4 months as the local precinct chairman, the Mecklenburg County GOP Chairman asked me if I would take on all 195 precincts in the County; in addition to my own. I accepted the challenge.
While I was with the MeckGOP, as the County Precinct Organization Chairman we helped pass the Marriage Amendment. We helped take back the state house and the senate and the governorship. We also helped Mitt Romney win in North Carolina in 2012.
I am in my third year as a productive member of the Charlotte City Council Privatization and Competition Advisory Committee.
To keep this short; we need to focus on the economy, promote good private sector jobs and redirect money to classrooms and public safety. We need to put more police on the streets, and improve funding for district attorneys and the courts.