Cate's Chemist Story
Cate's Chemist Story started in 1998, when Cate married Paul. Cate was a pharmacist in the Australian Army, and Paul was an officer in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps.
Shortly after the wedding, Cate deployed to Bougainville with the Combined Health Element of the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). By the time she arrived, a bitter civil war between the PNG Defence Force and the local population was in truce. Elements of the PMG travelled to local communities to demonstrate security and inspect for compliance with peace agreements. The Combined Health Element’s primary purpose was to support the Australian, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu troops of the PMG, in case of injury or illness. To do that they established and maintained a field surgical hospital. As this was the best capability on the Island, it was frequently used as the local Accident & Emergency department. Medical personnel also travelled with the teams to provide aid out in the communities.
Fortunately, health services to PMG troops were relatively routine, but the PMG were regularly attending to locals. The pharmacists had supply responsibilities, but also in A&E supporting doctors, nurses and specialists. Cate tended gunshot wounds, electrocutions, amputations, child births, life threatening illnesses and injuries; as triage first aider, orderly and scribe. It was an incredibly strengthening, humbling and educative experience.
This amazing clinical experience and example of teams working together to achieve common goals in harsh conditions, was to be formative in her approach to pharmacy. Trusted team members used initiative and judgement to achieve outcomes, and weren't constrained by the traditional responsibilities of each profession.
By 2003, Cate and Paul had started to form a plan to settle in Townsville, and build a local, family enterprise that leaned on Cate's love of pharmacy and Paul's experience with leadership and management - Claw Group.
The plan was influenced by Cate's experience in pharmacy supply, warehousing, dispensaries and on operations; and by Paul's experience as a leader, in futures and capability development, and on staff with senior leaders. We think these combined strengths, our people, and our values set us apart from many competitors today.
We set about establishing an advisory board of lawyers, accountants and mentors to support the purchase of Lennon's Pharmacy in 2006, on Ingham Road in Garbutt.
In 2007 we refreshed the tenacy as part of the shopping centre development, and rebranded the pharmacy to Cate's Chemist.
In 2008 and 2009 the Global Financial Crisis was headlining, and it was a time for all businesses to re-evaluate their future.
There was increasing downward pressure on PBS remuneration for pharmacies, and supermarkets and discounters threatened deregulation.
Our current strategy formed in this period as an excel spreadsheet and evolved. We committed to our values and a culture that endures today. We joined the digital age with our first website and facebook page. We committed to continuous improvement by joining the industry Quality Assurance program.
From 2010 to 2015 we modernised dispense, business and POS software, and were early adopters of Office 365 which continues to support our approach to collaborative planning and project management.
Downward pressure on income continued with PBS Reform. So we were motivated to 'plan big and act small'; planning like larger corporates while acting like a local family business. A rewarding outcome of this approach is the Cate's Chemist Community Care program that drives our corporate and social responsibility objectives.
By 2016 our strategy was quite mature, we were confident with our risk appetite and experienced with due diligence.
In 2017 we used this experience to negotiate and secure a second pharmacy in the GP Superclinic on Charters Towers Road, and rebranded it Cate's Chemist Hyde Park. We have been blessed with many great employees over the years, and invited our longest standing to partner with us in the Hyde Park venture and appointed her Pharmacy Manager. This acquisition was nearly as busy as our first. Acquisition and renewal of a business under those circumstances was like building a plane… in the air, and Eliese and her team deserve great credit.
In 2017 we also migrated our website to a new platform for the second time, in preparation for exciting new developments in 2018 and 2019!