RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
Mims seizes opportunity to make his own way with Mims Management GroupDaniel Mims, HSOP Class of 1999, President of Mims Management Group.
Feb. 14, 2016
This article was originally published in the Fall, 2015 edition of The Auburn Pharmacist magazine
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Not many people can pinpoint an exact time their life took a turn, but for Daniel Mims (HSOP Class of 1999), he can quickly tell you: April 23, 2000. That was the day he decided to make a career change. Three years later he started Institutional Pharmacy Solutions and now, 15 years later, he is the president of the Mims Management Group.
So, what is significant about April 23, 2000? That was Easter Sunday, an important day in the Mims household. After getting called in to work that day, he decided a change was in order. Fortunately, a connection Mims had made during his fourth-year rotations while at the Harrison School of Pharmacy literally walked in the door and gave him the opportunity he had been looking for.
“A guy from Turenne PharMedCo walked through and they were hiring. He handed me his card, and I had done a rotation with them in pharmacy school, so there was a connection there,” said Mims. “They are a long-term care pharmacy and I went to work for them in January of 2001. I went to work as a consultant, going to nursing homes, reviewing charts, doing that type of work. About nine months later, they moved me into an administrative position where I was over all the other consultants.”
While there, Mims was able to pick up experience in all aspects of the business from sales and marketing to pharmacy operations. That experience is important to have for when opportunity presents itself. Fortunately, he did not have to wait too long for that opportunity.
As part of his position, he dealt heavily in customer service and problem-solving for clients. Two of the accounts at Turenne PharMedCo were not traditional nursing homes, but rather behavioral health facilities, and they were having a hard time getting their needs met.
“We were trying to service them like a nursing home and it was a disaster on both parties,” said Mims. “We couldn’t get the meds there fast enough and by the time we packaged them, sent them up there overnight, the next morning the doctor has already changed the order. They write the prescription and we try to send them a week’s supply, and they use two days of it and have to waste the rest of it.”
While at a trade show in Las Vegas, Mims found what he believed to be the solution to the problem in a dispensing automation system. By tying the automated system to a pharmacy, the pharmacist still has an integral role in the process and they could cut down on waste. The issue then turned to presenting it to his bosses at Turenne PharMedCo.
“I went back and kind of built the process, put it all together,” said Mims. “I took it to Turenne and said, alright, I think I’ve got a solution for these facilities. And, they loved it. They thought it was fantastic.”
But, there was a problem. His efficient concept called for a big investment in equipment and re-training of staff. Plus, the system was going to cut down on 50 percent of the waste, so that meant a 50 percent cut in sales. In a situation where it was just two accounts out of the 50 they had, the interest just was not there.
But, the idea never left Mims’ head.
“It was just one of those things, I never could get away from it,” said Mims. “When Turenne didn’t want to do it, I kind of had a conversation with them and said ‘look, if I went out on my own and provided this system, would you do business with me?’ And they said ‘sure, we will give you space in the basement, open a pharmacy, do whatever we need to do.’ And, that is really how IPS (Institutional Pharmacy Solutions) started.”
It was a family operation from the first day. Mims, a Montgomery native who received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Huntington College, met his wife, Krystal, in church and the two were married after his freshman year in college. Krystal, now the chief executive officer of the Mims Management Group, went on to earn an accounting degree from Auburn-Montgomery and also became a pharmacy technician.
“In the beginning, I was the pharmacist and Krystal was the technician. We did it all, on-call 24/7, and it was tough, but it was our baby,” said Mims. “We did that for a couple of years before we really started to add more facilities and grow. We moved outside of Alabama in 2008 and then in 2009, hired a sales and marketing person that had really been in the industry and he just kind of blew it up. Next thing you know, we are in California, we are in Virginia, Texas, we are all over the map. Really, in the last four years, we have really experienced incredible growth.”
They key to the automation system is the Pyxis machine. IPS has pharmacies that transmit prescriptions to the Pyxis machine in a particular facility. The facility staff can then pick up the medications and administer to the patients.
“Orders come in and they are processed by a pharmacist. An interface is built between your dispensing software and the automated machine so that when that order is put in, it then transfers over to the machine,” said Mims. “It creates a patient profile with name and demographics and all their orders become populated there. The machine can hold 300-400 unique items, which in our industry is great because we do have some med-surge hospitals, but with most the formulary is very narrow, so you can basically put 98 percent of what they are going to need on a Pyxis machine.
“When the medications are there, available, waiting and as soon as that order is written and is processed by the pharmacist, it goes there and the med is there for the nurse to administer. You cut down on all the wait time of getting the medication there. Each medication is packaged in its own little container, called a cubie and it has a microchip on it so you have a safety and security feature there. It fingerprint scans, it is an extra measure of security to really lock down and eliminate diversion and create a system where you really know in real-time what is going on and still have pharmacy oversight in the process.”
IPS was started in 2003 and in 2005 Mims bought Northeast Pharmaceuticals. Northeast had a similar operation to IPS in mental health, but was focused more in traditional residential long-term care. In 2013, Mims made his first foray outside of the pharmaceutical industry and started Cotton & Pine Creative, a design studio, letterpress and print shop in Montgomery. In the meantime, Mims Management Group had been created to oversee the administration of the various companies.
The company went through some changes in the last couple years, both in subtraction and addition. In 2015, Mims Management Group sold off Northeast Pharmaceuticals to Genoa, a company that had been doing similar work in the northwest and was looking for a presence in the southeastern United States. This came a year after Mims acquired IntelliGENETICS, a DNA testing laboratory in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Incorporating the work being done at IntelliGENETICS into pharmacy is something Mims is particularly excited about.
“IntelliGENETICS is doing forensic and immigration testing, but our real focus there is to make the connection between DNA and pharmacy and the science is out there do it now, it is fascinating,” said Mims. “A new concept called pharmacogenomics where you can really analyze someone’s DNA and determine which drugs are going to be good for this individual and which are not. How are the drugs metabolized specifically to this patient so that a doctor doesn’t have to just trial and error and practice on you, they can have some clear and concise information to get started on your drug therapy.”
Through all the growth, Mims Management Group has continued to be a family operation. Included in that family is the Auburn Family. While Mims is a graduate of HSOP and his wife is an AUM graduate, the rest of the leadership group also has an Auburn presence.
Clark Sahlie, the company’s chief operating officer, is a 1988 Auburn graduate with a degree in business administration, and January Green, a 2002 AUM graduate, is the vice president of human resources.
Additionally, the next generation of the Mims family is settling in on The Plains as Daniel and Krystal’s oldest son, Silas, is in his sophomore year at Auburn.
To Daniel, the Auburn Family is a real thing and something he is excited to be a part of.
You don’t have to sell that or make a big hype about it because you know it’s real. Once you have been to Auburn, once you experience everything there, you do feel that it is a family,” said Mims. It is not just a bunch of people you don’t know. There is that connection. It is apparent in the athletic events, it is also apparent in the academics.
“Even now, I have been out of school for 16 years, I still find myself having connections with the pharmacy school. You never can get away from it, it is a lifelong commitment. Not just your support at those events, even now with the capital campaign funding and that kind of thing. There is an obligation there that, hey, this is our family, this is what we are going to do and we are committed to doing this as well. It is fitting that they call it the Auburn Family.”
Mims has been committed to HSOP since graduating, establishing the Daniel & Krystal Mims Annual Scholarship. This year, the award went to P3 Janie DeRoche.
“If you are successful in business and you have the resources, I think it is important to have that philanthropic mindset as well. Auburn played a big role in getting me to this point in my life, giving me the opportunity. I never could have done anything if I didn’t have the degree in pharmacy and I understand that,” said Mims. “It goes back to that family, that connection, that tie and I will always be grateful for the years I had at Auburn and the investment it made in me, to give me the skill set and the opportunity to do what I have done.”
Going from behind the counter at a retail pharmacy to head of his own company, Mims is thankful for the opportunities he has been able to take advantage of. If there was anything he could stress to pharmacy’s next generation, it is to look for your own niche and be innovative.
“Most pharmacists are clinician-minded, they went to pharmacy school to be a clinician, so it is rare to find a pharmacist that has a talent or a desire for the business aspect of it. But, if you can put those two things together, there is great opportunity out there, especially if you are a little innovative and a problem-solver,” said Mims. “My advice to a pharmacy student coming out of school is to not be discouraged with the real world because there is a real world out there and it is different than what you are expecting.
“Don’t get discouraged or disgruntled, you can innovate and you can be creative in any aspect of pharmacy. That is what I loved about the career and the profession: there is opportunity out there everywhere. Yes, there will always be challenges, but there is also great opportunity out there and you are not confined to a particular role. There are all kinds of niches in pharmacy and there is something out there that they can plug in to and enjoy, and make a difference and an impact.”
Daniel Mims with the Pyxis machine.
The Mims Management Group headquarters outside of Montgomery.
About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. In 2014, the school adopted the slogan, “Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care.” For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.
Last Updated: February 14, 2016