2016 IW Winners

Business of the Year - Thunder Bay

Brenda Adams

Brenda Adams

Brenda Adams isn’t your everyday pharmacist. The animal-loving, active-living pharmacist brings creativity and compassion to her business on a daily basis.

If you head into one of the five — soon to be six — Janzen’s pharmacies she owns in Thunder Bay, you’ll find she pairs a community-minded approach with innovative and forward-thinking practices.

“We’ve built our business on customer service, knowing people by name, and being able to take care of them with whatever they need,” said Adams. “Our philosophy is empowering our staff and our managers to be able to do that.”

Adams has been working as a pharmacist in Thunder Bay since 1986, when she graduated from the University of Manitoba’s program. While Adams initially worked for a hospital pharmacy, she transitioned to a role at Shoppers Drug Mart shortly after, where she worked until 2000.

She then joined the nearly centuryold Janzen’s pharmacy as a manager, before taking over after Fred Janzen retired in 2002. Between 2001 and 2016, she’s grown the business from one location to six, and from nine employees to nearly 100.

“We responded to the needs for the community,” said Adams, who has a keen understanding of the unique local landscape. “There are niche communities in Thunder Bay. We were responding to people who said, if you have one in Current River, we’d love to take advantage of your services.”

Adams’ team includes on-staff nurse practitioners, personal trainers and holistic health specialists. Adams takes a comprehensive approach to health that she couldn’t fully practise in a chain pharmacy environment. She said her own business has allowed her to incorporate specialists and services that are not typically offered.

“I’ve always been into health, natural supplementation and physical fitness,” said Adams, who is a runner and weightlifter in her spare time. “I knew I wanted to incorporate all of those aspects into my practice.”

This approach allows Adams to help her clients prevent as well as treat illness.

“A pharmacy is such a great place for people to come not just when they’re sick but when they want to be healthier, and I certainly couldn’t do that working for anyone else but myself,” said Adams.

Adams has led the way in the North on several initiatives.

As a woman, she is proud to offer specialized care to women in the community. For example, she brought specialized compounding, and specifically, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for women, to Thunder Bay for the first time in 1997. The service is now offered through Janzen’s, and she said thousands of women use their specialized compounding.

“We are definitely a destination for women,” said Adams. “Women are always looking to be in better shape and to feel better, and I use my experience to be able to talk to them.”

Janzen’s also recently branched out into home health care that allows people who are aging, recovering from illness or living with a disability to live independently more easily and longer. They are currently the largest provider of longterm and assisted living care to clients in Thunder Bay.

Adams hopes that people see Janzen’s as somewhere with something for everyone, though.

“It’s one-stop shopping to be able to meet their health-care needs or to be the liaison to other health-care avenues,” said Adams. “I know what makes it successful is always responding to the needs of the community and the clients because that’s what it’s all about.”

“If you do the right thing for the patient you can’t go wrong.”

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