MELBOURNE, FL – When the local Chamber of Commerce called up Colleen E. Hunter to invite her to a small business round table, the president/owner of Browning’s Pharmacy and Healthcare could not help but ponder the dichotomy.
On one hand, Chamber officials wanted her input as a “diamond” member running a business that has been around for 51 years. On the other hand, she was fighting for the life of her business through legislative advocacy designed to stop the competitive bidding program.
No less than the governor of Florida told Hunter, “If you don’t go to Tallahassee [state capital of Florida] and fight for your business, you can be assured that someone else is there fighting for something that is against what you want.” Hunter took it to heart and she has been battling ever since.
Despite a busy schedule running two stores in the Sunshine State—Orlando and Melbourne—Hunter has banded with local competitors to state her case. “Our store in Orlando is mainly complex rehab,” says Hunter, who’s father started the store in 1962. “Next week, Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla) is coming to our store. We will be mainly discussing the complex rehab bill for the separate benefit.”
The stakes are high for Hunter and her venerable business, particularly because Browning’s has failed to win any competitive bidding contracts in either round one or two. “We are subcontracting and it’s a nightmare,” laments Hunter. “We are doing a lot of work for little money. Basically, we are only doing it to keep serving our patients and keep our referrals coming to us in case competitive bidding gets stopped. We are finding ways to work harder for less money.”
Officials at Browning’s hope to find ways to cope with the challenging times by attending Medtrade, scheduled to run this year from Oct 7-10 (www.Medtrade.com for more info) in Orlando, Fla. “You always learn something at Medtrade,” says Hunter, who is married with a 16-year-old daughter. “I like to talk to people and hear what they are doing. Even if you only learn one thing, it can be valuable. There are no business interruptions, and you are just learning and talking.”