Wizard Pharmacy franchisee Elise Wheadon is Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 and her four-pharmacy company was named Business of the Year on Saturday at the annual awards ceremony of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The pharmacy was also named the best company with more than 21 employees and Tia Price, an associate of Ms. Wheadon, won the retail and customer service award.
“I still can’t believe it – to win four trophies with the team tonight – I didn’t expect that when we came in,” said Ms Wheadon.
Ms Wheadon, who became a business partner at 24, celebrated the opening of two more pharmacies in June.
Its success comes despite pressures placed on the pharmaceutical industry during the pandemic and ongoing changes in the nature of the industry’s business.
She said her biggest challenge was staffing
“I think after the Covid period everyone has re-evaluated what they want to do. They are again prioritizing family, depriving work and prioritizing mental health again,” she said.
“We are actually investing in a dosing robot that will be installed before Christmas.
“A pharmacy’s scope has expanded so much over the past five years that pharmacists are actually doing more with the same amount of time, so we should try to reduce their workload to make the workplace a better place to work and also to practice on top of their reach.”
Ms Wheadon found herself having to find a new pharmacist and hire substitutes when some of her employees recently became pregnant at the same time.
Like most businesses in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the housing problem has been the biggest barrier to Ms Wheadon’s ability to attract new staff.
“We had to think creatively about how to solve the problem,” she said.
“I had to make sure they had somewhere to live because I couldn’t count on going through the application process, finding a great candidate and then moving them here and not being able to find housing.
“First we looked at the rental market as it was a quick way to meet our needs and we actually just bought a house last week.
“I can’t open my doors without a pharmacist, so taking care of the core of the business is my number one priority.
“By saying that without the support team we have, the pharmacist wouldn’t be able to do his job.”
Ms Wheadon said she tried not to schedule herself to maintain a healthy work-life balance as running a business was a 24/7 job.
“However, being in a regional area if I have a pharmacist who is sick or on vacation, I need to be able to jump in as a stopgap,” she said.
“I had to work today and I realized you forget how much you really love the tool until you do it.
“Working at all pharmacies gives me ideas on how to improve workflow and connect with customers.
“I had a fantastic day and the team will hate it because I have about 50 suggestions for them, but I think if you have a lot of energy and you can give that to your team, they will give it back to you threefold. ”
She said she worked in Merredin for a year after completing her pharmacy degree before moving to Kalgoorlie-Boulder 15 years ago.
“Like most people, they came to Kalgoorlie for six months, it grows on you and now it’s been 15 years, three kids and a marriage later,” she said.
“Within six months I was offered a partnership – at 24 that was pretty daunting – but I agreed and eventually my business partner moved on and I just kept going.
“Kalgoorlie really grows on you, the community is great – the business is sensational.
“No matter what your passions are, there is a place for you in Kalgoorlie.”