Family Owned Clinic Grows to Serve Their Community
ACTS Pharmacy is a family-owned, independent pharmacy and clinic based in Tacoma, Wash. Founded in 2018 by Wilbur and Jazel Jane Bautista, husband and wife, ACTS Pharmacy serves their community as a full-service pharmacy coupled with clinical services including laboratory tests, immunizations, travel clinic, HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and medical compression socks. Before launching their own business, both Wilbur and Jazel had established careers in medical fields: Wilbur as a medical technologist and Jazel as a pharmacist. Reflecting on where the inspiration for ACTS Pharmacy emerged, they both point to an evening in 2018 when they returned home from work and realized they were eager for something new. Together, they were a growing family with two young children, and individually, they were working long, stressful hours with opposing schedules and experiencing a lack of fulfillment in their day-to-day work. They knew that going into business for themselves would allow them the freedom to offer their community a personal connection with wraparound services and to realize the work-life balance they desired.
Despite initial success in the first two years, Wilbur and Jazel soon faced unforeseen challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a loss of in-person foot traffic, the business was forced to create new revenue streams and find alternative methods to serve its customers. With financial support from SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, they kept their employees on board and worked together to re-create their business model. Early on, they responded to the urgent needs of their customers by offering delivery of prescription medications and hard-to-find supplies, including hand sanitizers, thermometers, and locally-made masks. Anticipating the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, they began working with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to establish ACTS Pharmacy as a vaccine clinic, offering both in-person vaccinations and mobile services for adult family homes, local schools, colleges, community-based organizations, and churches.
Through these formative first years, Wilbur and Jazel realized the emerging opportunities to serve their community as a clinic and the magnitude of management skills required to operate a successful small business. Although they were confident in their knowledge base as health professionals, both owners began seeking further education to increase their skill set as small business owners and managers.
In 2022, they applied to SBA’s T.H.R.I.V.E. program, an executive-level training series to allow small business owners to accelerate their growth through targeted training, mentoring, peer-to-peer learning, and self-paced instruction. For Wilbur and Jazel, the key takeaways from this six-month training series included improving their employee management and hiring practices and developing a multi-year strategic plan for growth. They were introduced to the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a resource partner of the SBA, offering small business advising, workshops, and training to entrepreneurs in all stages of business. They continue to work with their SBDC advisor monthly and are currently developing bookkeeping best practices and financial forecasts for the next three to five years.
“After participating in this course, we are constantly reminding ourselves to work on our business rather than just work in our business,” Wilbur Bautista said. “We are developing procedures and standards that help us manage the day-to-day business and empower our team members.”
Today, ACTS Pharmacy is a growing business with plans to expand services and locations. The business has grown from one initial employee to a team of three full-time staff members and actively building relationships with local colleges, elementary schools, doctors’ offices, and county agencies to provide more customers with services not found elsewhere. As the company continues to grow, Wilbur and Jazel have been able to offer advice and guidance to their colleagues who wish to follow in their footsteps and launch their own independent pharmacies.