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Percy Malone
Pharmacist and Former Senator

Born in a small delta town in Mississippi, Percy Malone has lived and understands the problems of the poor; those often overlooked and forgotten. That is why, while serving in both Arkansas houses (first as a representative and later as a senator) Malone sponsored no less than 50 bills with a focus on protecting children, caring for the sick or incapacitated, and helping those living below the poverty line.

He is a successful businessman who in 1975, founded the first AllCare Pharmacy in Arkadelphia, AR with a #2 pencil, ledger book, and a typewriter. Today he has over 17 community pharmacy locations across Arkansas.

At a time when monopolies and big business are bankrupting smaller companies, Percy has stayed true to himself. Over the last 5 decades he has seen radical change in the pharmaceutical industry: From mom-and-pop drug stores with soda shops in the back to "big pharma"; from pencil and paper accounting to computer pharmacy tracking systems. Percy Malone has successfully led his company, AllCare Pharmacy, through the ever-changing complexities of business and consumerism in the 21st century.


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Listen to Learn:

  • About Percy's childcare advocacy work
  • How Mr. Malone founded AllCare Pharmacy
  • Percy's opinion on the future of medicine, and more...

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TRANSCRIPT

EPISODE 393

[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:09] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling, conversational interviews and Kerry’s natural curiosity, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider's view into the commonalities of entrepreneurs, athletes, medical professionals, politicians and other successful people, all sharing their stories of success and the ups and downs of risk-taking. Connect with Kerry through her candid, funny, informative, and always encouraging weekly blog. Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.

[EPISODE]

[0:00:41] KM: Thank you, son Gray. This show began in 2016 as a way for me and other successful entrepreneurs to pay forward our experiential knowledge. It didn't take long before my team and I realized, we were the beneficiaries. Listening to our guests has been both educational and inspiring. To quote the Dalai Lama, when you talk, you're only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new. After listening to hundreds of successful people share their stories, I've noticed some reoccurring traits. Most of my guests believe in a higher power, have the heart of a teacher and they all work hard.

Before I introduce today's guest who checks all the boxes, I want to let you know, if you miss any part of today's show, want to share it, or hear it again, there's a way and so Gray will tell you how.

[0:01:34] GM: All UIYB past and present interviews are available at Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s digital version, flagandbanner.com’s website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Just ask your smart speaker to play Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. By subscribing to our YouTube channel, or flagandbanner.com's email list, you will receive prior notification of that day's guest. Back to you, Kerry.

 

[INTERVIEW]

[0:02:01] KM: Thanks again, Gray. My guest today is not your typical doctor of pharmacology. Oh, no. The former state senator, Mr. Percy Malone, is more than that. He is a successful businessman, who in 1975 founded the first Allcare Pharmacy in Arkadelphia, Arkansas with a number two pencil, ledger book and a typewriter, because that's the way we did it back then.

Today, he has over 17 community locations across Arkansas. Having come from a poor, small Delta town in Mississippi, Percy has lived and understands the problems of the poor, those often overlooked and forgotten. That is why while serving in both Arkansas houses, first as a representative and later as a senator, Malone sponsored no less than 50 bills with a focus on protecting children, caring for the sick, or incapacitated and helping those living below the poverty line.

At a time when monopolies and big businesses are bankrupting smaller companies, Percy has stayed true to himself. Over the last five decades, he has seen radical change in his industry from mom-and-pop drugstores with soda shops in the back to big pharma. From pencil and paper accounting to computer pharmacy tracking systems, Mr. Percy Malone has successfully led his company Allcare Pharmacy through the ever-changing complexities of business and consumerism in the 21st century. It is with great pleasure and admiration that I welcome to the table, doctor, senator, and entrepreneur, Mr. Percy Malone.

[0:03:45] PM: Thank you very much. It's wonderful to be here and I look forward to our conversation.

[0:03:50] KM: Thank you, Percy. You have done a lot. Did you start your business in 1972, or 1975? I found two different accounts, ’72 or ’75?

[0:04:01] PM: Well, the background on that is I came to Arkansas in 1967 and worked for a man named Ivy Fuller. There's more of that story. But I opened the first pharmacy that I had ownership in the model I have today in 1972, in October of ’72 in Hope. The next one was in Hot Springs in March of ’73.

[0:04:33] KM: Your family roots are in Mississippi. You were born in Rosedale, Mississippi, and your parents had very little education, but a strong work ethic. Talk about growing up in the Delta.

[0:04:45] PM: Well, my dad was born in 1893. I was born in 1942. He was 49 when I was born. When my mom and dad got married, they lived in a tent on the Mississippi River. My dad never went to school a day of is life. One of the smartest men I ever knew. Worked hard. Don't know very much about his background. He never talked about it very much. His first wife died, we believe. My mom was a second wife. We believe, he served in World War I and a short time in World War II. He just never talked about it. He couldn't read nor write, worked hard. Like I said, the smartest men I ever knew.

[0:05:41] KM: What do you think he'd think about you right now? How far you've come and how much education you have? Do you think about him sometimes?

[0:05:47] PM: Every week. I've got all these sayings he said about working hard. He said, “Son,” because we lived on the wrong side of the railroad track. All of our clan lived on a little place, where road that's not much wider than this table. His brothers and sisters lived down there. Their main way to make money was to make moonshine. We have no truck patch. That's a garden behind the levy on a place that a guy named Perry Martin operated. He was the very best moonshine whiskey maker around. He shipped his whiskey to New York.

[0:06:29] KM: Really?

[0:06:31] PM: I could talk to you all day about all the blessings I've had. My dad wasn't about education. My mom had an eighth-grade education, and she's the one that encouraged me to go to school. When I did graduate from pharmacy school, he was the most proud human there was. He had a stroke when he was a young man and just had day labor jobs almost. Then as he got older, he was a night watchman at a yard that kept lumber, a sawmill place. I have had an absolute blessed life.

[0:07:15] KM: You've worked hard. As a sixth grader, you got a job at a soda shop. That's when you begin to formulate and see what it was like outside of your family making moonshine. Talk about that soda shop job. You were a soda jerk, I think they called them back then.

[0:07:29] PM: That's right. After the tornado of 1997 in Arkadelphia, I built back an old-timey drug store. The school asked me to come out and talk about my soda fountain and my new drug store. I had some seventh and eighth graders. I explained to them that I was going to have a drug store with a soda fountain. I was a soda jerk. I could just see that glazed overlook on their eyes. I’m not a teacher. I couldn't explain it. I turned around and talked to teachers, and they were in their thirties. I said, “Would you tell them what I did?” They said, “We don't know what that is either.”

[0:08:15] KM: What?

[0:08:16] PM: I said, “Damn, I’m old.”

[0:08:21] KM: you said, and I love this quote. I've got several of your quotes. You said, “I had people tell me that I would never get into Ole Miss. If I did, I would never get out. I didn't spend my energy trying to prove them wrong. I spent my energy on telling myself I could do it.” More people need to do that. Build themselves up.

[0:08:40] PM: That's right. I grew up on that wrong side of the track literally. Where I grew up, folks just didn't ever have this opportunity. It's so hard in America, or in Arkansas, or Mississippi to get out of poverty. We had to prove it. When I got out of high school, I hitchhiked to Delta State for pre-pharmacy. I went to Oklahoma City to live with an uncle in a garage, in the garage where they had a bed and the firm we worked at for 75 cents an hour, 40 hours a week, did pre-pharmacy.

[0:09:27] KM: You said that you had a lot of help from your sister, your mother, and other people helping to help you make sandwiches for you to send you off to school and spend an extra time working at a factory to give you a credit card to help you buy gas. You said, your family was really supportive, like sleeping in your garage of your uncle's place, and that you really couldn't have done it without your family support.

[0:09:58] PM: Lot of support. Not just families.

[0:10:00] KM: Teacher support.

[0:10:01] PM: Lot of support.

[0:10:02] KM: Has the family nucleus still intact like it was back then, you think?

[0:10:08] PM: Absolutely not. Terrible. People weren't going to get divorced. When somebody said, I do and for live – words meant things. Today, the generation is so sad. The words don't mean anything. The criticism about Percy Malone sometimes is, he's blunt and honest. Governor Huckabee said, “Percy is honest to a fault.” Now, how can you be honest to a fault? I know what he meant.

[0:10:39] KM: Yeah. It's a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with former Senator and founder of Allcare pharmacy, Mr. Percy Malone. We'll be right back.

[BREAK]

[0:10:54] ANNOUNCER: We know you probably see a lot of videos during the course of a week, but you've probably never seen one like this. Subscribe to flagandbanner.com's YouTube channel and see flagpole climber Robert Ray, one in a million. He recently climbed one of our customers' flagpoles in downtown Little Rock, simply to fix a broken pulley that a bucket truck couldn't reach. Our team was there to watch his rare sight. As Robert ascended, the excitement was thick. Check it out and see all the other tutorials and videos on the flagandbanner.com YouTube channel. You don't want to miss a thing.

[0:11:33] GM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago, with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last five decades, the business has grown and changed, along with Kerry's experience and leadership knowledge. In 2020, Kerry McCoy Enterprises acquired ourcornermarket.com, an online company specializing in American-made plaques, signage, and memorials. In 2021, Flag and Banner expanded to a satellite office in Miami, Florida, where first-generation immigrants keep the art of sewing alive with flags made in America. Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com. Back to you, Kerry.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:12:14] KM: We're speaking today with the entrepreneur and former Senator, Mr. Percy Malone, founder of Allcare pharmacy in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Okay, you've graduated. You're looking for a job. How did you end up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas?

[0:12:29] PM: Well, I graduated one day, Ole Miss. I had a job opportunity in Bridge City, Texas. I went to Louisiana, took the state board exam, reciprocated to Texas, and moved to Bridge City in 1965. I got there, because I thought I'd have a chance to own my own business. I always wanted to own my own drugstore. I wanted to have my own business, and I'd had no opportunity in a small town, in Arkansas, because the guy that was going to help me in Rosedale died before I got into school, and the other pharmacist potential guy was the guy that went to school, went to pharmacist school, and went to that drug store and took it over.

I had no place to go, except leave, and I was recruited by somebody in Bridge City, Texas. I headed off to Texas. Had no idea. Had not crossed that river. I didn't have any money, anywhere to get any money, so I knew I'd never have a store there. I had a friend that was in Arkansas. I said, “I've got to go somewhere, that I can have a chance to go to work for somebody that someday will pass along, and maybe I can take their stove.”

I ended up in Camden. That didn't work. On a Sunday, I heard of a job in Arkadelphia one. This is hospital, Mr. Robbie Fuller was working. He owned the stores. Legs had given out on him. I say, I’m looking for place to land. He said, “I want somebody to work. That'll be here.” That's how I got to Arkadelphia. Then I started. That's another story about how I got started in Arkadelphia. You want to hear?

[0:14:27] KM: Yeah.

[0:14:27] PM: Real brief.

[0:14:28] KM: All right. Give it to me.

[0:14:29] PM: Nothing's brief. When I got those two stores started, the Pharmacy Association did not want discount drug stores and here I was. They checked me out before I came to Arkansas to make sure I wouldn't be able to work for a discount operation. I was asked that when I got my temporary license coming into Arkansas. In 1975, I had then this investigation ever, because I was the one that was promoting generic drugs and discount prices. All my pharmacists, including me, got called before the bill of pharmacy. That's when I got to meet Bill Clinton, because he was a consumer advocate. I was able to get started and keep in business.

Then when I decided I was getting booted out of the store I was in, the guy that was in the drug store that was making money wanted me out, because I had 40% of it that time. Those two stores had started were losing money. I did take the two that were losing, had at that time, $50,000 of equity. I need to borrow some money –

[0:15:49] KM: To buy the rest –

[0:15:49] PM: - control those two stores. No banking market effort loaned me money. ABT and Hot Springs wouldn't loan me, but 50,000 I needed 80. Now, the good part of this story, there was a guy that owns a John Deere dealership named Allen Center. Parked his car from the bank. I barely knew him. “Al, I need some help. I need $20,000 co-signed. If you'll do that, I can get enough money to have these two stores. I promise you that the first $20,000 I make, I'll pay that off.” For some unknown reason, he said yes. He had nothing to gain and 20,000 lose. I did it. I got started. Two went to 15 or whatever, to all this.

[0:16:42] KM: You just ask.

[0:16:43] PM: I tell people, but somebody got to say, yes, I asked the bank, they said no. I asked every bank, they said no. I asked small business administration, they said, no. But you got to say, “I'll ask somebody else.”

[0:16:57] KM: You got to keep going. It's a wonderful story. It's the story of so many entrepreneurs. They just keep trying and they keep trying and they keep trying, until somebody finally gives them a break, because it's based on their work ethic. Everybody could tell that you have a great work ethic. You've taken a lot of risk in your life. Is there one that you've taken that you thought that one might bankrupt? I know I have.

[0:17:20] PM: What I do when I get ready to do something, I look at a venture and I'll say, what is the worst thing that could happen? I was taught many years ago, first, you don't ever lie to yourself, or don't ever steal from yourself. I never went to cash registers and pulled money out. I've always lived on a salary. Therefore, when I bought this recent store in Benton –

[0:17:47] KM: Which is very recent.

[0:17:49] PM: December 1st.

[0:17:50] KM: Of 23.

[0:17:51] PM: Benley's pharmacy. I said, what is the worst thing that could happen? Now, can I stand it? Yes. I'll do it. I don't believe I've ever taken a risk that if that particular endeavor went totally to zero, or the worst thing I could think, I'd do it. I'm not that – if people think, Percy’s a big risk taker, I am. But I'm not going to risk where I borrowed money from a bank, you or anybody else, and I can't pay you back.

[0:18:26] KM: Have you ever partnered with anybody? Or are you the sole owner of everything?

[0:18:30] PM: I have brought in partners a little bit.

[0:18:33] KM: When you say you own a computer company, you were one of the first pharmacies in Arkansas to go on a computer system.

[0:18:41] PM: I had the first pharmacy package in a pharmacy in Arkansas.

[0:18:47] KM: That is a big deal. How long have you owned your own computer company, so that you can control your software?

[0:18:56] PM: I started that in the 70s.

[0:18:58] KM: Your own computer company.

[0:19:00] PM: I developed my own pharmacy package.

[0:19:03] KM: Yourself.

[0:19:03] PM: I had two students from Henderson State University. One still works for me today. The other guy died. Carl Mica. We came up with what we would do. Interestingly enough, today driving up here, I was on a phone with a company out of Washington State that we're helping them write their pharmacy package that we're going to use starting April to May, because that made a lot of concessions, because he wanted my creativity. I know it's in the wrong place to sound like bragging, but that's it.

[0:19:43] KM: Business is creative. You have created a lot of stuff.

[0:19:45] PM: I'm a problem solver.

[0:19:47] KM: I am, too. I'm with you on that, a 100%.

[0:19:49] PM: It's just fun.

[0:19:51] KM: I agree.

[0:19:52] PM: But I didn't want a bunch of computer people telling me how to run my business.

[0:19:56] KM: Do you know how to code?

[0:19:58] PM: No. But when they first came out, I bought an Altair. It's about $10,000. I had a store here in Little Rock. It was in BASIC.

[0:20:10] KM: Oh, yeah.

[0:20:11] PM: I learned a little bit, but I learned enough, “You know, Percy, you better get someone who knows what to do.”

[0:20:19] KM: Substance abuse is big in the pharmacy business. How do you deal with all that? I mean, I don't know that I could go and count pills every day and then have a headache and go, “Well, I think I'll just take one of these Hydrocodones for my headache.” I mean, really, truly. I mean, it's too accessible. How do you deal with that?

[0:20:42] PM: I grew up learning about nicotine, or hydrocodone and all those drugs. My philosophy always was medicine are to sell, not to take. I don't take. I just don't.

[0:20:59] KM: You don't.

[0:21:00] PM: God was good to me. I don't happen to have an addictive personality. I know that some people do.

[0:21:09] KM: Yeah. Let's talk about, you're not in retail anymore, although you just said you bought a store in Benton, which I cannot believe that you're back into retail again. Because retail is tough. There's not enough pharmacists around. You do long-term care, you supply long-term care, assisted living care, correctional facilities, prisons, and you provide specialty medicines for complex diseases. I can guess, but why did you move into those areas of pharmacy and get out of retail?

[0:21:41] PM: The response is, I didn't necessarily move out. I did out of retail. Your question is appropriate. I thought I could slow down.

[0:21:51] KM: You've moved into correctional facilities, long-term facilities, and these other kinds of areas that I never think about.

[0:21:56] PM: Well, here's the reason I did it. Honest to goodness, but it is a niche market. Everybody in a jail, a nursing home, they had a mama. Let's just talk about jails. Because that's where people think, well, they don't need medicine. If we lock them up and they’re diabetic, or they got heart problem, we got to give them medicine. That's the constitution. More importantly, it's the empathy and the compassion. As every inmate, somewhere had a mom and a daddy, but had a mama. They love that person. That person deserves somebody to get their medicine to them, whether they think they should have it or not. That's nursing home people, that's assisted living people. That's who I'm out there for. I don't hire one pharmacist that I hire, and I look at you in the eye. Just think, you're going to come to work at my pharmacy. That's a closed-door pharmacy and we specialize in these areas you just mentioned. Now, it's 1 a.m., Sunday. You think of the person you love the most on this earth. Don't tell me.

[0:23:07] KM: Okay. I got him.

[0:23:09] PM: Now, it's 1 a.m., Monday. I get an order for medicine for that person and I don't get it to that person. Is there anything I can tell you on Monday that'll make you feel okay while I didn't get the medicine to that person? No. Well, if anybody says, “Yes, I don't hire them.”

[0:23:34] KM: What is the future of pharmacy look like to you?

[0:23:38] PM: It looks like, that if the public doesn't stand up, the public, that's people like you and say, “I'm tired of you telling me where to go to get my medicine. I want freedom of choice.” Where I see it going is maybe not my lifetime, maybe your lifetimes. You'll go to the doctor. They go order your medicine from Illinois, or Pennsylvania, where the state of Arkansas today is getting medicine for the inmates in the prison system out of Diamond Pharmacy in Pennsylvania. The point is that people in Arkansas don't know that there are jails, there are facilities, there's inmates, that if they go to the doctor today, this prescription is going to go to Pennsylvania. But we can't build a wall around Arkansas. You got interstate commerce. I'm not asking for that. I'm saying, let me have an opportunity to bid.

[0:24:44] KM: Why do you not have an opportunity to bid? Because big pharma?

[0:24:47] PM: No. Because the way the RFP is printed. The question was, where do I see pharmacy going? Where I see pharmacy going is if the public doesn't wake up and they got insurance and the insurance company was just tied up with big pharma, then you're going to someday, get some medicine that you wanted to go to Walgreens, CVS, Allcare. Who cares? No, ma'am. We're going to make it to you. Would that cost more?

[0:25:20] KM: There's only going to be a few places that provide that source to.

[0:25:24] PM: There won't be anybody.

[0:25:25] KM: There won’t be anybody. Everything's turning into a monopoly. I mentioned at the beginning of the show, everything's becoming a monopoly. It's like the politicians are afraid to stand up to these big businesses, because they've got deep pockets and they cannot get elected.

[0:25:39] PM: That is correct. I would love to have a show sometime and have those people at the table to bid them for all those reasons, because insurance says, well, we're going to give you 90-day supply. That's what you got to get 90-day supply by mail order. It's their deal, because they're making money off both ends of that thing. This thing called the Robinson-Patman Act, and they can't buy any less expensive than I can, unless they can control the marketplace.

[0:26:10] KM: Is there anything good about big pharma?

[0:26:11] PM: Yes.

[0:26:12] KM: What is it? They have been very effective in providing tremendously important medicines. We are a leader in new, effective, therapeutically sound drugs. That's what they're good about. What they're not good about is taking taxpayers' research money that we the taxpayers throw in there so they can invest millions and millions on a new drug. Then we, the tax payer, I'd say like that, but the government's tax money that helped take the risk for that new drug, for diabetes, or AIDS, or to keep us from having flu, but that's got to get fixed.

If you listen, to your point, though, listen to all this stuff that's on TV so they ought to have it somewhere, advertising's got to be honest. America is number one in one thing, cost to medicine. We're fifth, or sixth longevity, birth rates, of life.

[0:27:21] KM: Really?

[0:27:22] PM: Every measurable event, we are fifth, or sixth, or tenth.

[0:27:26] KM: But first in cost of medicine.

[0:27:29] PM: Cost to the consumer, we’re number one. It'll just blow your mind.

[0:27:33] KM: Are we over-medicated?

[0:27:35] PM: I don't know. I mean, I really don't. There are many drugs that yours truly, I have some for heart, for different conditions and vitamins. I'm living a very, very happy, full of life, and I take quite a few pills. Just for the record, I don't take drugs that affect my mind, because I don't wake up drowsy. Clarity, I got my brain, I want to be that way. I have a few aches and pains, so I'll take this little Tylenol.

I don't think in general, we're over-medicated. But you ask the question, then I could say, yes, because now we tend to have – we go to a doctor for the heart problem. We go to a doctor for this problem and that problem. They don't sometime know everything the other one's given. All of a sudden, we don't go to somebody that's the gatekeeper for our health care and to say, we don't need to be taking this one. That's why you need a pharmacy. Though, to be that, use one pharmacy, so they can keep all the drugs you're taking. But the consumer doesn't really know that, so they may go to this drug store and that drug store. Now the system is going to be trying to get it where all of our medicine, the health care provider can see it, whether you go to the doctor, or the dentist. Then you got HIPAA that you don't everybody know what you're taking.

[0:29:02] KM: All right. This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the founder of Allcare Pharmacy in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Mr. Percy Malone, who served in the House of Representatives for four years and 12 years as an Arkansas Senator, where he advocated for children and health care for all. Still to come, his work in the Senate and the bills he passed and why they are important. We'll be right back.

[BREAK]

[0:29:25] ANNOUNCER: Flagabanner.com reminds you, we are just about into the patriotic flag display season. It begins with Memorial Day, continues through 4th of July and then Labor Day. It's a special time at flagandbanner.com. There are resources on our website and our YouTube channel, where you can learn everything from how to mount the flag poles you've been thinking of getting, to flag etiquette and great ideas on how to decorate your home. The resources at theflagandbanner.com YouTube channel are incredible. There's always great advice waiting for you at flagandbanner in Downtown Little Rock. The patriotic flag display season. Remember, it starts with Memorial Day.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:30:09] KM: We're speaking today with one of Arkansas's top pharmacy innovators, founder of Allcare pharmacy and former state Senator, Mr. Percy Malone. Let's talk about, Percy, your work in the Arkansas houses. You worked as a representative for several years, let me see, from ’95 to ’99. Then for the next 12 or 13 years, you were a senator. What made you decide that you wanted to become an elected official?

[0:30:40] PM: I can see there's a lot of good elected officials can do. Now, I was interested when I decided to run, my mom said, “Oh, no, son. That'll make you a crook.”

[0:30:52] KM: Oh, wow. Even back then. Even 50 years ago, or four years.

[0:30:56] PM: Well, whatever. Yeah. But anyway, and it doesn't.

[0:31:02] KM: It doesn't.

[0:31:03] PM: You can get that way. But she learned that was different, because and I've told every governor, including this one, there's two abuse of power. One, we all know about. Doing things that are abusing it for bad reasons, corruption throughout. The other abuse, I think, is as significant and maybe more is having the power and not using it for good. I took the power and there is power in elected officials. We give that to elected officials. That's what got me in.

[0:31:41] KM: Yeah. As the only person at the time in the Arkansas legislature with health care background at the time , you had – there might have been another one, but you had the main health care background, you worked and accomplished much for your industry. You brought generic drugs to Arkansas. You advocated to allow pharmacists to administer immunizations. You worked to pass evidence-based medicine in the state. What does evidence-based medicine in the state mean?

[0:32:12] PM: Evidence-based medicine says that there are studies. There is our statistics that said this brand name. We got where we could change from a $80 brand to a $10 generic. The evidence is there that they're all the same. H2O is water, whether they called it liquid gold, or water, or whatever.

[0:32:34] KM: Is there a bill that you are the most proud of? Of a medical bill that you've passed? You've passed over 50 bills.

[0:32:43] PM: I guess, on the medical bill side, when we had a huge methamphetamine problem. We were having people taking –

[0:32:52] KM: Pseudoephed, and turning it into meth.

[0:32:55] PM: Right. But they weren't drug stores only. They were in 7-Elevens. They were just –

[0:33:02] KM: Everywhere.

[0:33:05] PM: I then started tracking where all this stuff is going from. You have grocery wholesalers that were selling to grocery stores and little convenience stores. You just go and buy a case about stuff and go make some meth. Then, so we got that over a big, old fight. I did get Governor Beebe to help me, because the lobbyists were just going crazy that we're going to limit the sales to a drug store. Or at least you could keep up with it. Not because we wanted damn money. Then we got it. I got it where it was going – at least go through some place that it was registration to know how much Pseudoephedrine was being sold at Allcare pharmacy.

[0:33:52] KM: Because you don't need a prescription. You just need to go up to the counter and ask for it, and they'll give it to you and you write your name down. That way, you can buy a case of it and take it out back and turn it into crystal meth.

[0:34:02] PM: That's an excellent point, because the big box pharmacies didn't like that, because they didn't want a pharmacist to take their time to sell one package. They lobbied like you can't believe. I found that about 85% or 90% was being sold by the big box stores, who had pharmacies in them. They'd be people outside. I'll give you $10 if you'll go in and buy three, two boxes were being bought inside. That didn't stop it. I did not think that drug should require prescription, because people don't need to go the doctor to have to pay a $25 visit to buy a decongestant. I fought for the consumer, they bought it, and a pharmacy to be professional, where that prescription department is and go in and have it behind the counter, buy it there and sign for it.

I got with Dustin McDaniel, the attorney general, and we took some money that would pay for a system. So, if you come into drugstore A and buy it and you go down a street to drugstore B, then they say, “Oh, you've already bought it.”

[0:35:24] KM: Oh, smart.

[0:35:25] PM: It took a lot of work. These things are not easy to do, or much less subscribe.

[0:35:31] KM: In addition to being a healthcare advocate in the legislature, you had another heartfelt mission. This one is the one that we're leading into. It's the child protection. An event happened to you that you said, you read a news article and it changed your life on child protection.

[0:35:50] PM: That was my first day, first day to serve in the legislature, in the House of Representatives. There was a picture of a little baby, had cigarette burns on his face. It was on the front page. It says that this child had been recently put back in the home, because our policy was family reunification. I thought, this is not a family.

[0:36:22] KM: No. This is not a family.

[0:36:26] PM: I started looking into that. I found out that every time there's a decision to be made about a child to take him out of the home, or put him back in, the judge, or DHS, the first thing they say, your goal is family reunification. I said, that's got to change. The first goal is to have that child in a safe environment.

[0:36:52] KM: Where did you want to put them? Do you want to go to foster care? What was your solution?

[0:36:59] PM: The solution was, yes, have foster care.

[0:37:01] KM: Foster care first.

[0:37:03] PM: But we didn't have enough foster parents. I had to deal with that. What we'll do is have it where in those cases, if they don't have enough people to be foster parents, well, then rather than do some of this stuff, the draconian is to let the local sheriff, or somebody that knows people in the community. You really don't want to be a foster parent if you don't have time and all that. But if it's a weekend, they could call you and say, “Can we bring this sweet little girl over for the weekend?” I believe, we'd have a lot of people that would do that. Yes, the sheriff would make a mistake sometime.

On balance, somebody in the community, one of the churches, nothing's a perfect system. But a half of locals better know love, so we worked out something that someone run and put that child in a police station or – police are wonderful. But that's the worst thing you can do with an abused child is put him in a police car. I love police. I help them a lot. They're wonderful.

[0:38:08] KM: Oh, really? Putting them in a police car scares them?

[0:38:11] GM: Wouldn't you be scared if you were four and had to go sit in a police car?

[0:38:15] KM: No. I think, “Wow, this is cool.”

[0:38:19] PM: I got involved, immersed in this thing immensely, and with my wife, and we talked to people all over America. I had a task force that brought all these people in. I got a list of everyone I could think of that had anything to do with abused, sexually abused, or abandoned, had anything to do with children. I had to go have a meeting once a month. I finally said, the answers are with you people. Help me. Help me. All these things have been fixed, literally. I do have the ability to put something on the ballot to change the constitution and had it where we can create a separate division just for children's issues. I believe, when I explain that to the people of Arkansas, they'll vote yes.

I noticed Arkansas has a list of people that are mandated reporters. If you're a school teacher and you suspect, doesn't have to have any evidence, you suspect that child's been sexually abused, or neglected, you are required to call the hotline. There’s a hotline. You cannot tell the counselor, or the principal, because we don't want that out there for that child. If it's true, then the whole downtown doesn't need to know they've experienced that. It took a while, but I got that through. That particular time, I was going to introduce that year that if you teach – I couldn't do the private schools, but they volunteered to do it.

If you have a student in your university that's in a subject matter that is going to require them to be a mandated reporter, then you must have something in your curriculum to teach them how to observe it and recognize it.

[0:40:23] KM: Ah, that's good.

[0:40:25] PM: That's what I thought. The presidents and chancellor says, “How dare you? We have constitutional authority to run our universities like we want.” We don't need any help from you, Mr. Senator.” Later on, Asa Hutchinson got elected and I worked very close with Susan Hutchison. That was her life calling. Together, we changed the way things worked in Arkansas for abused children.

[0:40:53] KM: Did you end up passing that bill?

[0:40:54] PM: All of it.

[0:40:55] KM: All of it.

[0:40:56] PM: I mean, it was a series of things.

[0:40:59] KM: Yeah.

[0:40:59] PM: Yeah. I mean, it changed Arkansas. Then my wife, and it was Mississippi, Mississippi's trying to do the same thing like in Arkansas.

[0:41:09] KM: Did we have sex trafficking problems when you were in –

[0:41:11] PM: Absolutely.

[0:41:12] KM: Or did you have those problems when you were in the legislature?

[0:41:14] PM: Yes.

[0:41:15] KM: It doesn't seem like much is getting done about that.

[0:41:18] PM: That's right. Because people don't know that – they don't know and they won't talk about it. There's no advocacy for it.

[0:41:30] KM: Mark Pryor tried to talk about it, and did a lot of talking about it and ended up getting voted out of office, I think, for talking about it. I don't think people wanted to – that's been a long time ago. But it was David Pryor's son, Mark Pryor. Yeah. He was really trying to stop some sex trafficking. For some reason, was in his campaign ads and he got voted out of office after that. I don't know if it's, like you said, people don't want to think about it.

[0:42:02] PM: Well, I think part of what he got out though was the Republican switch.

[0:42:09] KM: Just timing?

[0:42:10] PM: Yeah. Anyway.

[0:42:12] KM: Yeah. Well, I saw the other day, something about sex trafficking. I thought, gosh, is that still big? Must be. This is a great place to take a break, and our last break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the former Senator and founder of Allcare Pharmacy, Mr. Percy Malone, whose generous spirit and care for those in need is well-known throughout the state of Arkansas. After five decades in the field of pharmacy, what does he feel was his biggest and lasting accomplishment? We just heard it. We'll be right back to wind the show up.

[BREAK]

[0:42:46] ANNOUNCER: When a great organization serving a great community issues a mission statement, that's a big deal. The Friends of Dreamland has one. Friends of Dreamland celebrates the community of historic West 9th Street, shares the legacy of Dreamland Ballroom, and preserves the original intent of Taborian Hall. Let's break that down. Celebrate the community. The men and women that lived, worked and played in the West 9th Street neighborhood faced brutal social stigma every day, but thrived. We'll never forget this and we'll always celebrate it. Share the legacy. There's no doubt that the most fun and fascinating facet of the history of Dreamland Ballroom are all the legends that graced the Dreamland stage.

Unfortunately, it's taken only one generation to almost completely forget this great history. It promotes pride in our hometown when we remember it, and encourages us to do everything we can to keep this community strong. Taborian Hall was built as a central fixture of commerce, community organization, and entertainment. That's our mission statement now. We have a major legacy to live up to and a lot of work ahead of us, but we plan to move forward. Visit dreamlandballroom.org.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:43:57] KM: We're speaking today with the entrepreneur and the former senator, Mr. Percy Malone, Founder of Allcare Pharmacy in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, who's done great, great work for the people of Arkansas in his almost 20 years in the legislature, I think it was. Your generous spirit and care for those in need is well-known throughout the state.

When asked about it, I read where you said, this is your quote, “Ole Miss gave me the opportunity to fail and no one wants to fail. It's been a marvelous life, and I'm very fortunate to be able to give.” This is my favorite part. “My upbringing taught me that once you're on top of the ladder, you don't pull the ladder up behind you.” That's a good one. Would you go into the business of pharmacy again today in the climate that we're in?

[0:44:51] PM: Yes.

[0:44:52] KM: You would?

[0:44:52] PM: Yes. Because one of the reasons, that's all I know. I don't know how to build cabinets. I don't know how to program computers. I did learn. I do know about drug stores and how to run drug stores.

[0:45:05] KM: We have a shortage of pharmacists, I think, across the United States, right?

[0:45:10] PM: Yes.

[0:45:11] KM: Yes.

[0:45:12] PM: We have a shortage wanting to work. But I was a big part of this. See, every question, I got a long story. When I started in the legislature, there was only 70 students that could be admitted into pharmacy school, no matter what. You could have 1,400 –

[0:45:30] KM: Applicants.

[0:45:31] PM: But you have 1,400, 100 people want to be an accountant, that want to be have a psychology major, but we limited and do the number of pharmacy students. What's that for? Because in my view, somebody said, “We're going to control the market. Therefore, we can keep the salaries up, and we won't have to have a bunch of these young jerks coming out of school that want to open a drug store down the street from me. I'm happy just like we have it.” In fact, the Board of Pharmacy had a regulation many years ago when I came to Arkansas that said, you can't get a permit for a drug store, unless you can prove a need in the county.

[0:46:15] KM: Or you can buy somebody else's, like you did.

[0:46:19] PM: The thing is, I wanted to own my own drug store. Yes, that was how I could get involved. But this is a subject discussion that Arkansas had a regulation that said, if I had money, if I had, and I want to put a store somewhere, I can't get a permit, unless I can prove a need. Well, of course, that didn't last long past the threat to go to court. Now, you can't control – anywhere, nobody can tell me that I can't open a place to sell [inaudible 0:46:19]. I experienced a lot of that.

In fact, when I wanted to put a store in Prescott, when I lived, had more than hope, I was told by an influential banker that I would never be able to get a permit. I said, “What do you mean? I'm a legal operation. I'm not involved in politics.” “Oh, he just mentioned it.” I'm back up, talked to my friend, Mr. Fuller, Senator Pryor, David Pryor was governor. Now, let's have a free system.

[0:47:24] KM: Do we have enough pharmacists to fill all the jobs?

[0:47:27] PM: Yes. Now here's a background on that. When I came in, when I went to school, there was one girl in pharmacist school. It was all men's deal. This time went along. I know about Arkansas, because I lived here since 1967. They gave a test to the side of all those 150 people that want to be a pharmacist. What, 70 get there? Well, guess what? Women, first of all, are smarter than us. Second, well-known, they do better on testing.

All of a sudden you got 70 students and 50 women and 20 men. Guess what? Women have a right to be pharmacists. It just so happens, men don't have babies and women do. They want to get out and work a few years. I've got daughters and I know they're going to work. All of a sudden, things happen in their body and their life. Nope, I want to stay home and take care of little Susie.

[0:48:35] KM: You're exactly right. I have several friends who are female pharmacists and they work part-time.

[0:48:41] PM: At one time, these two young women wanted to sell their store, because they want to stay home and have babies.

[0:48:47] KM: Sure.

[0:48:48] PM: I said, okay. They owned it. Two of them owned a store. I said, all right. Then I'll buy it. I'll loan it. I'll manage it. The two of you, between the two of you, puts you 45, 40 hours, total 40, 45 hours. We've got plenty of pharmacists. It just so happened.

[0:49:07] KM: There's a big life-work balance going on right now that I even see in the Flag and Banner business. Nobody really wants a 40-hour work week, male or female. I think females more so maybe, because they have to take more care of more stuff. I've noticed the same thing.

[0:49:26] PM: You're asking me a question that I'm not justifying yes or no about, whether you want to work 20 hours, right? The facts are, I got into there and I said, “You know what? I'm going to increase the size of the pharmacy school, because these blasted tests you give doesn't have anything to do whether they’re good pharmacists or bad pharmacists. Let's give them a chance to fail.”

[0:49:53] KM: It's your motto.

[0:49:56] PM: I moved. I legislatively increased the size of the pharmacy school and funding from 70 to 90. That didn't help very much. We got more stay-at-home moms that have a great job that’s part-time. They don't have to go to McDonald's and make this. They can work a day or two and make a significant more amount of money. That's what we ought to be able to do.

[0:50:21] KM: Yeah.

[0:50:21] PM: Let them have part-time.

[0:50:22] KM: Is it still 90, or is it more now?

[0:50:24] PM: No, then I moved it to 120. The dean went ballistic on me, and she's still over there working, “Percy.” I said, “Well, I'm going to get that number high enough where people like me could get in, because I ain't smart as these women.”

[0:50:41] GM: Doesn't more students generate more income for the university, or is it not a one-to-one?

[0:50:46] PM: It's not. Because then, you couldn't afford it. But that's not how we would gauge that as a society, because we pay taxes. We provide schools to provide universities.

[0:50:59] GM: Right. That’s true. Right.

[0:51:00] PM: Now there's a case to be made. We got too many four-year colleges. As Frank White, another said, many years, but we got them in which we're going to close, so we're stuck But we need to have a university system. We need to have a very, very good educational system. It's going to cost X number of dollars. Those decisions are made. But you can't put the burden on the students, because they can't afford those high tuition.

[0:51:26] KM: Okay, it's time to talk about your succession. You're 80. Succession plan. You've got to be thinking about an exit strategy. Can you share your plans for retirement? Or is there a continuation of your baby, Allcare Pharmacy to your daughters? What do you think is going to happen? Are you going to sell out to the big box stores?

[0:51:45] PM: Would you like it better if I said I'm retired, or I'm not retired?

[0:51:50] KM: I don't know. I have no opinion. You're not retired. I can tell.

[0:51:55] PM: Yes, I am.

[0:51:56] KM: You are?

[0:51:57] PM: When you get retired, don't you do exactly what you want to do? I'm retired. That make you feel better? I'm tired of people saying, “When are you going to retire?” I'm retired.

[0:52:07] KM: Well, I guess I am, too, Gray. Son Gray.

[0:52:10] GM: I guess, that's true. Yeah.

[0:52:11] PM: See? Or, I'm never going to retire.

[0:52:15] KM: What does that one mean? Give me some more.

[0:52:17] PM: Because there's two ways to die. One, retire.

[0:52:19] KM: Oh, yeah.

[0:52:20] PM: I’ll go to hospital. I'm happier than I've ever been in my life.

[0:52:26] KM: That's lovely.

[0:52:28] PM: God is good to me. Faith is a part of it. I'll tell all my Republican friends, because I got a lot. I don't know. I got blue in me and I got red in me. All the political stuff that you're not supposed to say. I'm white. I'm a Democrat and I'm a Christian. You can be all three. I don't believe all Republicans are going to heaven. I think some Democrats are.

[0:53:00] KM: Percy Malone, I have enjoyed talking to you. Here's your gift for visiting with us. It is a US flag and Arkansas flag and a Mississippi desk flag for you to take back and put to your office.

[0:53:11] PM: Thank you.

[0:53:12] KM: You're welcome. I've really enjoyed talking to you. Thank you.

[0:53:15] PM: I will put this in there.

[0:53:16] KM: This show was recorded in the hollow walls of the Taborian Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas, and made possible by the good works of flagandbanner.com., Mr. Tom Wood, our audio engineer, Mr. Jonathan Hankins, our videographer, daughter Miss Megan Pittman, production manager, and my co-host, Mr. Grady McCoy IV, a.k.a. Son Gray.

Thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard, or learned something that's been inspiring, or enlightening, and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy, and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

[0:53:57] GM: You've been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio show, and choose today's guest. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week. Stay informed of exciting upcoming guests by subscribing to our YouTube channel, or podcast wherever you like to listen. Kerry's goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.

[END]

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