Pharmacist Lark Swofford on Her Father’s Legacy
May 30, 2017 11:39PM
By Sheila Julson
Codi Triesch, Bob Scarbrough and Lark Swofford
Abrams Royal Compounding Pharmacy founder Bob Scarborough was a healthcare visionary when he formed the business in a small storefront in 1980. Few pharmacists at the time looked at health care beyond merely dispensing pills, yet Scarborough made the connection that food and nutrition are medicine. He grew Abrams Royal into a premier compounding pharmacy and nutrition center with two locations, both with Pharmacy Compounding Board accreditation. In addition to pharmaceutical services and professional-grade supplements, the pharmacy offers private consultationss and patient education seminars.
Although Scarborough is semi-retired, his family is continuing his quest to bring natural healing to peoples’ everyday lives. His oldest daughter, Licensed Pharmacist Lark Swofford, shares how her father influenced her own decision to follow in his footsteps and shape her approach to customer care.
What inspired your father to start his own pharmacy?
He worked for Dougherty’s Pharmacy after he graduated from pharmacy school in 1965, but he always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He opened Willow Creek Pharmacy, his first business, in 1968, and sold it in 1975. In 1976, my baby sister Codi was born and he filled several part-time positions in local pharmacies until he opened Abrams Royal Pharmacy in 1980. So for a while, we had both my mom and dad at home, which was great while growing up.
Dad had his nutritional epiphany in the early 80s when he realized the same customers were coming in month after month refilling their blood pressure medications, but neither their blood pressure nor their overall health were improving. He knew that their problems weren’t due to a “blood pressure medication deficiency”, but rather something more basic, so he looked into nutrition.
Back then, there weren’t many places to learn about nutrition, so he started going to educational seminars held at Parker Chiropractic College. So here you have this wacky pharmacist at these seminars, and many of these chiropractors were asking him, “Why are you here? You’re just a pharmacist who counts pills.”
Dad told them, ‘No, there’s more to it. I want to actually help patients get well. Pharmaceuticals should be used judiciously and not as a permanent crutch. If there’s a way to correct an underlying problem, we should help the patient fix it.” That’s how it all started.
Were you involved with the business while growing up?
In 1980, of course there was no social media and advertising was literally word-of-mouth. I vividly remember my mom, sisters and I walking around during the middle of summer in the heat with bags of little advertisement papers rolled up and rubber-banded, putting them on all the doors in the neighborhood. We were involved with the family business from childhood on—we had no choice.
Did his approach eventually influence your decision to pursue a career as a pharmacist?
My sisters and I would go into the pharmacy and hang out with him on weekends. I watched how he interacted with the patients and saw how much he loved helping people. I never thought about pharmacy as a career, and it took me forever to graduate college because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to be. I changed my major at least a half dozen times and finally decided on physical education, because I enjoyed helping people stay active and healthy.
Two months from graduation, I was still working with Dad on the weekends, and I realized that I really understood what he was doing. I wanted to keep working with him and hanging around the Old Man, because he’s cool and fun and intelligent, so we had several conversations about what it would take for me to get into pharmacy school. My main concern was that I would be an “old lady of 30” when I graduate.
He said, “You know what, honey? You’re going to be 30 anyway, so why not be 30 with two degrees under your belt?” I graduated from University of Texas College of Pharmacy in 1996.
How is the family involved with Abrams Royal today?
My sister, Codi Triesch, and I are pharmacists. My middle sister, Greer Blair, does all the marketing. She’s not a science-minded person, but she’s very artistic, so that’s where we put her skills to use and she’s great at it. My mom focuses on the financial end. Dad has not retired yet. He’s in his 70s and taking some time off, sort of a quasi-retirement, and it’s well deserved. But he pops in whenever he wants to.
Like Dad, I’m always looking to help people, such as explaining the difference between the professional-grade supplements we sell versus supplements sold at big-box stores for $5. It’s about getting information out there so people can make better health choices, and when I hear stories of people getting better, I feel like I’m giving people hope.
Abrams Royal Compounding Pharmacy is located at 8220 Abrams Rd., in Dallas, and at 4909 W. Park Blvd., Ste. 177, in Plano. For more information, call 212-349-8000 or visit arp-rx.com. The Dallas location will host a seminar on inflammation Jun. 5.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.