Who’s Behind the Counter: Neil Leikach at Catonsville Pharmacy
Staying on top of a rapidly changing business.
Catonsville Patch: How long have you been in business in Catonsville?
Neil Leikach: We have two stores: one in Catonsville and another in Finksburg. We opened the Catonsville Pharmacy in February of 1999.
Patch: Why did you choose Catonsville?
Leikach: I actually had started working in Catonsville when I was 16 years old as a delivery driver for the pharmacy that was in this location before. My father is a pharmacist and so is my wife; we met in pharmacy school and she works in the Finksburg pharmacy. So, I was eager to open my own pharmacy when the one that was here was going out of business.
Patch: Has your business changed over time?
Leikach: [He laughs.] Yes it has, three fold. It has changed dramatically. The number of prescription and over-the-counter medications that people take has gone way up, the drug interactions are more complex, the way prescriptions are paid for, the influence of the insurance companies. Just about everything.
Patch: How many prescription medications does the average person take per day?
Leikach: I don’t know the numbers for people in general, but for someone in assisted living, it is about nine per day.
Patch: What do you like about being in Catonsville?
Leikach: When I came over from Randallstown to work as a driver, I loved the Catonsville area right away. Everyone is pretty friendly. I’ve known some of my customers since I was sixteen.
Patch: What services do you do?
Leikach: The basics are prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. We’ve also been doing vaccinations for six years. Once a month we have diabetes education classes. We found that diabetes is very prevalent in our area and that people needed more education to help them control the disease.
Patch: What might your average customer be surprised at?
Leikach: How busy we are. They may see only two or three people, but behind the scenes, there are a lot of us.
Patch: What is your busiest time of year?
Leikach: We get a little busier in the winter when people get colds and flu, but our business is pretty steady. About eighty per cent of the prescriptions we fill are for continual medications, something people take routinely every day.
Patch: Do you have a signature service or specialty thing you do?
Leikach: We deliver. That’s a nice service we offer.
I also work extensively with professional organizations and with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. We have both a one-year residency and one month externships.
Patch: What’s one of the hardest things about your work?
Leikach: Dealing with the insurance regulations. Everyone in health care feels it. The insurance companies determine what’s covered and how much we charge.
Patch: What are you proud of?
Leikach: When we started here it was just myself and my technician, Cathy Wilson, and now we employ over 20 people, most of them from the Catonsville area.
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about your work?
Leikach: I enjoy talking to the patients. The ones who have been with us for a while, we talk about how their kids are and where they’re going on vacation. If it’s someone new, we make an effort to listen and to get to know them.
Patch: Do you have any specials or loyalty programs for customers?
Leikach: We do. We have a loyalty card and we do a monthly newsletter. We also offer specials on our Facebook page.
Patch: What are you looking forward to?
Leikach: We have been talking about branching out and offering more classes, maybe in asthma and blood pressure management. People can talk to us about other health topics they’re interested in.
Patch: What is one thing you think is needed in the business community?
Leikach: I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce but I’m not involved. I wish there were more flexible opportunities that work with my schedule. I’d like to do more here in the Paradise area. We have a few retail openings here right now.
Patch: What's the best piece of advice that someone has given you when it comes to running a business?
Leikach: My dad owned a pharmacy and my cousin still owns a pharmacy. They both told me, “Do the right thing. Be honest with your customers and you’ll have them coming back because they will enjoy doing business with you.”