Faced with increasing competition from chain stores, a group of independent drug store owners from eastern and central North Carolina gathered to organize a new wholesale enterprise. On May 1, 1952, they conceived of a customer-owned service corporation from which they could obtain merchandise at a reduced wholesale cost. In doing so, they could pass the resulting savings on to their customers and stay competitive in the market. Each founding member agreed to purchase shares of stock to finance the incorporation of The North Carolina Mutual Wholesale Drug Company and to lease 10,000 square feet of warehouse space at the corner of Angier Avenue and Elm Street in Durham, North Carolina.

  • 1952

  • 1963

  • 1967

  • 1973

  • 1974

  • 1986

  • 1987

  • 1992

  • 2002

  • 2008

  • 2016

  • 2017

  • 2019

  • In August, Mutual Drug began doing business with its member stores. At the end of the cooperative’s first year Mutual Drug served 43 stores, and recorded $58,000 in assets, $60,505 in sales, and an inventory of $53,000.
  • A new facility was constructed on six acres of land just south of the Durham city limits at 816 Ellis Road. The new warehouse and office space cost $352,000 and contained 37,000 square feet. Its features included an elaborate conveyor system for fast order-filling and shipping, and direct distance telephone dialing. A staff of 35 employees served 140 member stores. Sales reached $3,496,000 and $332,273 in rebates were distributed.
  • The cooperative introduced computerized data processing to automate invoicing, accounts receivable and payable, payroll, and perform the billing system of retail customers’ charge accounts. Construction began on an 8,000 square foot expansion that would cost $50,000 and bring warehouse capacity to 45,000 square feet.
  • Mutual Drug celebrated its twentieth anniversary. The cooperative purchased eight acres adjoining the original Ellis Road property to accommodate future expansion. A staff of 74 employees serviced 242 stores in 57 counties. Member stores filled 25% of all prescriptions in the state.
  • Despite the economy, sales for the fiscal year were recorded at $19 million. This represented a $3 million increase over the previous year—the largest single increase in the company’s twenty-one year history. Planning began in July to increase warehouse space, and a $1 million expansion loan was finalized for construction of the new 35,000 square foot addition. Upon completion, this facility was one of the most modern materials-handling operations in the industry. A mile of conveyors were installed along with new shelving and flow racks. During that same year, a state-of-the-art order entry system was introduced. This provided stores with a direct link to Mutual Drug’s computer which enabled immediate electronic order placement. Mutual Drug employed 90 associates who served 258 stores
  • Mutual Drug reached $100 million in sales and 91% of all orders received were transmitted electronically. Total rebates paid for the year were $14.4 million.
  • Mutual Drug expanded beyond North Carolina into South Carolina and Virginia. Construction of an additional 20,000 square feet of warehouse space was completed in August which allowed for larger shipping and receiving areas. The addition, including equipment, was built at a cost of $1 million without increasing the capital debt.
  • Mutual Drug exceeded $200 million in sales and was ranked the seventh largest single-house wholesaler in the country. Systems were developed to modernize order filling, inventory control, and management programs. Construction began on a new 47,000 square foot warehouse addition, once completed it would bring the total square footage to 165,000. Mutual Drug’s 161 employees served 440 member stores.
  • Mutual Drug celebrated its fiftieth year of business with record sales and operating profits. The cooperative’s total sales reached $536.6 million and operating costs were reduced by 30%.
  • Despite a weakened economy, Mutual Drug experienced record revenues that exceeded $1 billion for the first time in its history. Mutual Drug reached a new milestone by delivering over $50 million in rebates back to its members.
  • Shareholders approved a new patronage rebate structure and membership agreement. This new rebate structure better links a member’s purchasing patronage to the rebate dollars they can achieve.
  • Mutual Drug celebrated its sixty-fifth anniversary. The company began servicing retail accounts in West Virginia.
  • From a small group of independent drug store owners to the largest pharmacy cooperative in the country, Mutual Drug continues to make history. Currently, Mutual Drug serves over 500 independent pharmacies throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The cooperative has grown to become the eighth largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in the United States. Despite its record growth, Mutual Drug is still owned and governed by its members.

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