December 21, 2022

Episode #57: Marc Sweeney – Profero Team

Marc A. Sweeney, RPh, BS Pharm, PharmD, BCMAS is a career-long entrepreneur who has assisted in the launch and/or strategic growth of several companies, colleges of pharmacy, pharmacies, organizations, and programs. He has helped multiple companies and organizations, both domestically and internationally, save millions of dollars in pharmacy benefit plan costs while implementing innovative strategies to improve overall health care. He strategically aligns stakeholders to create synergistic wins for all involved while creating new jobs.

He co-founded and is the CEO & Principal of Profero Team. He has equity and/or leadership roles in several other companies that he has helped launch or develop. He is involved in bringing transformative health care to multiple local governments, organizations, and companies, including Fortune 500 companies. He obtained his B.S. in Pharmacy from Ohio Northern University, his Doctor of Pharmacy from The Ohio State University, and completed his fellowship at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

He was the Founding Dean of the School of Pharmacy at Cedarville University and on the Founding Executive Leadership Team of The University of Findlay College of Pharmacy. He has also served on the faculty and leadership at Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy assisting in the development of the Pharm.D. program.

In addition to an extensive academic and leadership background, he also has experience in many areas of practice including community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, ambulatory care, homecare/home infusion, managed care, and hospice.

He is the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center for the Ohio Pharmacists Association following service as a past president and board member. He also has served as a board Member of the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, and has won over 30 awards during his career. Throughout his professional career, he has generated several publications, provided many professional presentations and has obtained over $9 million in research and project grants.

Profero Team, LLC is an innovative clinical pharmacy consulting company. We help employers, brokers, consultants, hospitals, and hospices reduce medication costs while improving quality of care. We also assist physician practices in implementing and managing a collaborative pharmacist practice model. Our consultants bring clinical, business, and health plan expertise to every client to improve overall quality of care. Our team has expertise in specialty drugs, adherence improvement, genetic drug consulting, disease management, pain management, and substance abuse.

When appropriate, new pharmacy development, 340B programs, and reconstructed formularies are brought to the table. High quality educational programs for health care professionals and human resources staff are available. Other consulting projects are available upon request. All programs are individualized and customized based upon a comprehensive analysis of client needs.

Transcript

hello this is coach Tim Campsall and I’m your host for the self-made is a myth make a difference together show where we’re talking with successful business owners to hear their stories of the journey to building their business and because we know that achieving success in business is not something that we do on our own we’re taking time to recognize the folks who helped us to excel today I’m excited to have a fellow business owner from Ohio with us today my guest is a piano player and plays in a cover band that is cool we’re going to learn a little bit more about that he enjoys hiking and cycling spending time with his family and he’s most proud of being part of the leadership team that started two colleges of Pharmacy it’s my pleasure to welcome Mark to the show today hello Mark hi there glad to be here fantastic well hey let’s start with having you um introduce yourself tell us a little bit of your personal story like where you were born where you live a little bit about your family sure thing so I I actually grew up in Northeast Ohio and uh in a little town called Champion but it was out it’s nestled between the Cleveland and Youngstown areas um and spent my my entire early life there um had graduated high school I was I was a runner so I was part of the cross-country and track teams I was part of the band did those types of things had a lot of fun uh went on to college at Ohio Northern University on the northwest side of Ohio where I majored in Pharmacy graduated there and then I went back actually to my hometown up up in the Warren Champion area and then um spent a couple of their years there being a pharmacist doing different things eventually went on to Ohio State in Columbus to get my doctor a pharmacy degree and then that kind of was the starting point of my career at that point fantastic um and so it’s interesting uh it’s just I think it’s a showing how old we are you didn’t say the Ohio State you just Ohio State as an Alum I probably should have said the Ohio State University so reprimanded by those some people out there all right we’re going to have the Ohio State Police tracking us down when this interview launches so tell us about uh being in a cover band that sounds exciting so yeah I mean I’ve I’ve played music um for the majority of my life I mean I started playing uh piano when I was in fourth grade and then was part of the band played uh trumpet I always enjoyed music was in in band all through my high school and I was also played through um my college Years played uh also in an adult life in various churches and about 10 years ago I started playing in cover bands because they were a lot of fun and enjoy encouraging people through music and um so the current cover band I’m in we we’ve been together about two and a half years and again we play covers from the 60s through today just have a lot of fun and I do play the the keys for that band so very cool well thank you for sharing hey is there a a funny story that your family likes to tell about you that you’d be willing to share with us today yeah so uh to my demise there’s probably a lot of fun stories that they tend to share about me but uh one in particular that goes back a few years now was the time that I was one of my my daughter uh my first daughter was was uh gonna be born so my wife was pregnant at the time we bought a second hand crib and a little piece on the crib had fallen off underneath and I was gluing this little metal piece back onto the crib and uh unfortunately some of the uh the glue the super glue dripped into my eye and I super glued my eye shut so that ended up in an emergency room visit oh no so um I could I could give you a lot more context to that store being a lot longer segment but it’s a story that people like to talk about how dead uh super glue there’s eyeshadow I bet yes and uh did you get any nicknames out of that no I didn’t thankfully um

picking up a few later this afternoon yeah so my my pregnant wife was driving her husband with his eye glued shut to the emergency room so wow tell us about your family yes sir sure thing I uh so my wife and I have been married um almost 29 years and we have uh a daughter of 24 who actually is uh finishing up her Pharmacy training and she married her husband who is also a pharmacy student they’re finished up their Pharmacy training uh I have a son who’s 21 and he’s uh an accounting finance major in college and then I have a high school daughter who is a freshman this year so fantastic awesome and what’s everybody’s names so my wife is Patty and my uh my daughter oldest daughter is Rachel she married Luke and then I have Ben and Anna wonderful well thank you for sharing with us so Mark tell us about how the business came about and at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business so so about 11 years ago had um well actually we’ll go back a few years maybe maybe 12 13 years ago we were kind of in a challenging economic situation in the United States and we were watching um in the middle of a recession and I saw a lot of companies that were were struggling financially and as a pharmacist and someone who understood a little bit about the payer space and employee benefits thought maybe I could help some of these companies financially and so I was at the time the the dean for a school Pharmacy in Ohio and I got permission from the University’s Administration to start a company to just help out employers and as a Consulting practice um as as something that we thought would be beneficial and so um it’s really just started kind of as a side side gig if you will um and then I did that with some colleagues and then over the course of of you know several years the um opportunities continue to expand and so essentially what I what I often say is we kind of grew into the business what started as a side gig turned into ultimately a full-time gig and that’s that’s where we’re at today so fantastic awesome so tell us more about the company what do you guys do how do you help people so so as a pharmacist we recognize that a lot of of health care costs are attributed to drug costs and in and as the FDA continues to prove new products new Innovative products you know the cost of those new products are you know quite high in some cases and we watch a lot of employee benefits um or employers struggle with employee benefit costs and so consequently we get involved with helping them reduce those costs and there’s a number of ways to do that it’s there’s not a formula for it it’s not a plus b equals c if we do some analysis figure out what makes sense and then evaluate where the opportunities allowed to reduce cost in some cases it’s you know contract related in other cases it’s vendor related in other cases it’s just managing the overall um members on the plan member better and there’s there’s a lot of different pieces to that so so that’s one vertical of our business another vertical of our business is as pharmacists we all also recognize we can help hospitals and Health Systems improve revenue or reduce cost or a combination of both we also work with physician practices and we’ve tried to put pharmacists embed them into transition practices to help them improve care reduce cost pharmacists you know historically have been trained in a more of a retail pharmacy Center a dispensing role in pharmacists have have changed drastically in what the roles are today so so now we try to really optimize what a pharmacist is capable of doing and what they’re trying to do and try to build in uh expanded and innovative ways to use pharmacists in different practices and then the third vertical if you will is where we help companies Implement their Pharmacy strategies if they want to start a specialty pharmacy start a retail pharmacy if they want to build out a new company that relates to Pharmacy in some way we help and provide consultation to do that so that’s that’s what we do in a nutshell yeah awesome your name is is rather unique is there a story behind the the meaning of your your company name so profero is actually the Latin word for forward and we it’s intended to show that and the team was strategic so we realize that no one person knows everything so we try to function collaboratively as a team you’re not hiring a consultant you’re hiring a team of people with Diversified expertise and we’re going to move Health Care forward and and we believe that’s a positive messaging collaborative team uh working together to move forward Healthcare Improvement or move forward optimization of Health Care yeah awesome thank you for sharing that’s cool so um Mark is there a a story of somebody who pushed you or inspired you that you could do it even though maybe you thought you couldn’t that uh that that had an impact on you in the business you know so over the what I think so for me personally um I think the one of the greatest resources we are given are people in our lives and and we often talk about stewarding resources well but we often think put that in in the context of financial resources and and not that you don’t Steward those resources well but but people resources are incredibly important to Stuart as well and so I’ve always been big into networking building relationships across all facets of my life and that’s personal from a friendship standpoint but also from a from a professional standpoint as well and so I’ve always had uh let’s say a network of professional friends colleagues professionals that I’ve viewed as good friends that that challenge and and push me um and so some so I’ve I’ve had prior faculty members in in my in my career faculty members not only that that taught me but then I went back into Academia I was a faculty member for many years as being part of college as a pharmacy and so some of my my colleagues um also became good friends mentors um in in the faculty space but but yeah I mean if I mean first of all I mean a lot of our of My Success has been obviously the support and advocacy of my wife Patty and and that’s obviously the key to to everything quite honestly but in terms of of other people in my life I think it’s it’s the collective wisdom of many people um and there’s definitely people that um are part of my life that are now part of my team now but also who continue to advocate for us even outside of our company who just Advocate because of who we are or who I am awesome thank you for sharing so Mark what’s been the biggest learning that you’ve had as a business owner so the well I’ve learned a lot uh and the one thing that um I think is Pinnacle to being a business owner is it really is a very rewarding environment uh if if you in fact enjoy Innovation entrepreneurship you enjoy being a decision maker making good decisions but when you’re when you’re the owner of a company you have a lot of flexibility to do what you want now sometimes that’s that’s a negative two because I have to protect myself from myself yeah and so so I do need people around me to push back it doesn’t make any sense to man if you’re a business owner and you have a people who work for you or they’re just you know basically what I would call yes people or yes men and women like that is of no value you need people that surround you that are willing to push back challenge you uh and that way that that’s a protective mechanism um so so and the other thing is you don’t need more of yourself you know and a lot of times we like we we sometimes will um be drawn to people that are a lot like us but those aren’t the people that we need to necessarily be around we need people to challenge us and to think differently and maybe even and not antagonistically but to think differently to supplement our skill set and our perspective yeah I we use uh the the disk assessment to help business owners to understand themselves and their team and one of the things that comes up all the time is with uh relationship people who are married and also working together and and they’re usually those people are opposite and and so I I remind them that the the saying is true that Opposites Attract because subconsciously we know that we need the other person to complete us and and unfortunately usually when we hire where we do the opposite of that and we hire people who are just like us because it’s comfortable so I like I like what you’re sharing in terms of that acknowledgment of we do need different people to to help us to grow and develop and see the world differently see the business differently and and help us protect ourselves against our blind spots yeah absolutely agree with that Mark we know that business success doesn’t happen in isolation so tell us about one of your biggest challenges over the years and maybe a fellow business owner who came alongside you and helped you through that so you know one of one of the things that and again when you’re when you’re a business owner you’re faced with a lot of challenges I mean there’s just it doesn’t and and but but one of the things that’s important to recognize is the challenges bring opportunity and I know that’s an old adage that people say challenge challenges breed opportunities and and you can overplay that but but there’s a lot of reality to that where those challenges can easily be converted into opportunities for improvement or expansion or even refining of what we’re doing so um so sometimes um when you have innovative ideas we um we can we can think a little bit naively thinking oh well everyone will enjoy this this great idea as a company and how we are we often bring in innovative solutions to the marketplace so so we may be we may have an idea on how we help a company uh reduce their their employee health cost but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your ID idea is necessarily a good one and so so I have a friend colleague and now he’s he’s retired but boy is he really good at calling out like and saying you know that’s not a good idea or you know there’s no business model associated with with your idea and and uh again I’m cautious about throwing names out because I I could I could go down a whole long list of names of people who’ve been part of my life but but I really have appreciated especially those who are a little bit more seasoned than me who have experienced the challenges and they’re willing to say you know here’s what you need to do actually uh one of one of my colleagues mentors one time sat across from me for lunch and he said you know he says you get successful people together and business people together and they like to talk about their success but he said you ought to sit across the table and talk about your failures because it’s the failures that made you successful yeah but no one wants to talk about your failures they just want to talk about their successes absolutely yeah and and in the corporate world we’re all trained not to you know even you know acknowledge that we failed that we were supposed to hide that stuff in the back corner and and and not you know not allow it to happen and which is kind of weird because uh how did we all learn how to walk right we we fell down multiple times we failed tremendously until we we figured it out um our founder uh Brad sugars he he quote that I love that he says is he never fails he either succeeds or he learns and I love that perspective of right that all those failures are just us learning how to become better versions of ourselves the next time around well I’ll tell you as a musician this is so when we play gigs we do a lot of improv but what’s interesting is is when as a piano guy if I mess up a riff I have to quickly think of how to make that into a new riff I’m not going to stop playing I’m not going to put a pause I’m basically I’m going to say okay we got to go a different direction and we got to do it fast you know so so to some degree you have to to learn to take the mistakes and then to turn them into new trajectories yes and so sometimes that is really beneficial yeah absolutely so um you said earlier that you don’t like to call out people so I’m going to put you on the spot here if I asked you to pick three people in your business Journey that you’re most grateful for being there for you and helping with the business growth who are those three people and how they help you well certainly and and I’ve already called out my wife Patty I mean certainly she’s foundational to uh to all of our success as it pertains to supporting me and our our initiatives um another I probably another major colleague uh that has been Key to Our Success has been uh one of my vice presidents uh Cheryl Rhys she’s actually come alongside it and she’s really good at complimenting uh my skill set because she has no problems pushing back and challenging me on my thoughts and she is a key factor to to also why we’ve we’ve been successful um and and I would say um I I have a couple other mentors in my life I’ll call them out and say um John stanovich and Mike buchach and those guys have really been good at just saying you know giving me straight what they think you know they don’t beat around the bush they tell you this is good this is not good and they don’t have to worry about hurting my feelings because their relationships are deep and they’re long and so you know you need those kind of people where and at the end of the day I think we’re in a culture today where people are somewhat offended or afraid to offend people but but the reality is that’s that’s dangerous to be around people who are afraid of that you know you ought to be able to have a a significant disagreement and then walk away and grab dinner together and it’d be all completely fine that’s really what we need so I love that thought of you know have a an intelligent helpful disagreement and then become friends and I go back to the friendship or the relationship after the fact because you’re right it’s not personal if it’s a if it’s a true meaningful friendship a relationship then you do want the best for the other person which means sometimes sharing that hard truth right yes yes so Mark as you think about the next three to five years what are the biggest challenges that you see that you’ll face in achieving your goals and who are the types of people that you’re going to need to help you solve those challenges so one of one of the challenges we’ve we’ve had has been how to strategically grow a lot of times we reactively grow opportunities come our way and we we react and create a means by which we can accommodate that growth I would like to more strategically grow and plan out how we’re going to take on new business or new clients and um and so you know what kind of people do we need we need strategic sales people who can who can not only generate those expanded growth opportunities but help us think through also how we’re going to accommodate those expanded growth opportunities so so definitely in that category um and and I need more people operationally in a minded I’m very much the Strategic Visionary out there but uh but like having people around me can operationalize the vision if you will and and I think that’s a key factor sometimes your operations people can be in in as you probably would imagine in disagreement with your Visionary because there’s a sometimes a disconnect there um and and so just learning to kind of pull and tug a little bit on what could be realized and bringing the operations people along but at the same time the operations people need to hold back the Visionary too so um so so that’s that’s probably some of the challenges we’re going to face I mean certainly the other big challenge is what’s what’s going to happen in healthcare at large Healthcare is so complex it’s moving uh 5 000 miles an hour in a lot of different directions and how are we going to rein this in in terms of cost mitigation and bringing new solutions to the market uh but having Innovation that’s that’s bringing quality you don’t want to just do something because it’s new but how do you vet out innovative solutions so I need people who are going to also think through all right this is an Innovative idea Innovative company or vendor how are we going to put that in place and how we’re going to protect the clients that want to you know utilize that Innovation but not put themselves at risk so those are some of the I think key factors to the Future I I loved your your analogy of the you know the Visionary versus the uh operations folks so you know oftentimes what happens is you know the Visionary has all these huge big you know hairy audacious ideas of changing the world but um they struggle with Landing the plane right and so I I like that you’re surrounding yourself with folks too that can you know connect the dots you know put the the processes in place and enable your vision to become a reality and and I also liked what you said about the give and take right of you know of hey maybe that idea is just a tiny bit too big and and the operations team needs to pull it a little closer to the ground but then also right the reverse side is you know the the operations people are gonna prefer to have certainty and and want to make the idea too small and so you being able to pull them back up into the clouds a little bit and right and and expand their thinking in in terms of finding that win-win yeah absolutely in fact I I um and I do I love metaphors and analogies but you know if you look look at a pulley system in order for a pulley system to actually work there has to be tension across that entire pulley system as soon as you lose tension you have no ability to move whatever is you’re moving so you’re you’re you have to have to some degree tension in all facets of your of your business but in a positive way it needs to be functioning to move things forward so tension is not a negative thing it’s just a mechanism by which we improve you know a forward motion so that’s I love that analogy thank you for sharing so Mark Jim Rohn um love him there’s a lot of great books one of the things that he one of his quotes is we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with so as you think about that what advice would you have for business owners who are trying to do it on their own and not not bringing other people into their world yeah and and I could totally see why like people would struggle with that um I I think you know so so I came out of Academia I spent a lot of time and and when we go through any type of schooling whether it be high school or college or Graduate School uh uh I think there’s a general culture and an assumption that’s kind of fostered there that you have to independently succeed you take your test yourself you do your projects yourself you write your papers yourself and if you do anything with someone else it’s considered cheating right and then we go into the business world and we bring that that mindset and and it’s now we actually need to collaborate now we actually and anyone to suggest that they have all the knowledge and Intel to accomplish what they need to accomplish I mean that’s that’s typically uh naive or egotistical but it never works um and and and I think what what really needs to happen is we need to learn to and there’s a there’s a humility piece to that too like we have to we have to self-recognize that we don’t have all of the skills necessary to make an entity successful or an organization or business successful so so how do we bring the right people now now part of that is trust you know you can’t just allow for anyone so it has to be a group of people that you trust that complements you that you can actually disagree with that still maintain great relationships uh but yeah anyone that’s trying to do it all themselves will will ultimately um in my opinion fail or come to a point where they realize they need to to bring other people into the equation awesome thank you so much for for that perspective I I I I never thought of it that way but you’re right the school system does teach us to to to do it on our own and then we get thrown into the corporate world and it’s like oh figure out how to work with others and share and and have one plus one equals more than two yes exactly so Mark you’ve um clearly been blessed with some incredible people that have helped you along your journey if they were all on the show here today what would you want to say to them well I’d certainly thank them for my friendship with them their friendship to me uh their willingness to be truthful and honest uh I so I part of part of my perspective in life is to have fun in life as well and to enjoy enjoy people and relationships and so I’ve always appreciated people that have a sense of humor around me and probably has cultivated that in myself as well but but I appreciate the fact that you can have great relationships challenging disagreements and yet have a lot of fun and a lot of humor through that and those are the kinds of people that that uh I’m around and I appreciate those those qualities of people that I’m around so awesome mark it has been a pleasure speaking with you today thank you so much for being on the show thank you I appreciate the opportunity to everyone who tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made is a myth show with your host coach Tim cancel be sure to help us spread the movement by liking the show and posting about it on your social media and to join our movement go to bemadtogether.com all right folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and I’ll see you all next time take care