State Representative Diana Harshbarger Talks About Her Background and Owning a Successful Small Business


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed State Representative Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01) in-studio to talk about her background and being a successful small business owner.

Leahy: We are joined in-studio by Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger, who represents the 1st Congressional District of Tennessee. That’s up in East Tennessee. Welcome, Congresswoman.

Harshbarger: Oh, it’s such a pleasure to be here.

Leahy: And you came all the way down from Bristol?

Harshbarger: Kingsport.

Leahy: Tri-Cities area. Now tell us a little bit about your background. Born and raised in East Tennessee.

Harbarger: Absolutely. I am a native of East Tennessee.

Leahy: You went to East Tennessee State University?

Harshbarger: Yes, I went to East Tennessee State University, and then I got my doctorate in pharmacy at Mercer.

Leahy: That’s a PharmD, right?

Harshbarger: That’s a Doctor of Pharmacy, yessir.

Leahy: And so did you start a pharmacy? Did you work for companies? What’s your history?

Harshbarger: Honestly, I’ve worked hospital work, when Bristol had their old hospital. I’ve worked retail for different companies. And then we decided it was time to open – I opened a Medicine Shop and we ran that for 20 years. I do compounding.

I used to do the sterile, non-sterile hospital. Somehow there’s nothing I haven’t covered in pharmacy except nuclear. And that gave me a whole new perspective on how to take care of people.

Leahy: So Medicine Shop, was this like a franchise?

Harshbarger: Yes.

Leahy: And they were all over the country.

Harshbarger: Yes. Used to have a footprint everywhere.

Leahy: You started with them at a good time. When did you get your Medicine Shop franchise?

Harshbarger: 1989, if I’m not mistaken. We could have done that in 1990. There was a friend that opened one, and he decided after six months, I don’t want to do this. So we stepped in, purchased the franchise, and then we never looked back.

Leahy: And you ran it for 20 years.

Harshbarger: Yes.

Leahy: And you ran it with your husband, who is also a PharmD.

Harshbarger: Absolutely, yes.

Leahy: Then you sold it and made some money, is that right?

Harshbarger: No. We didn’t sell it. No. I had different compounding pharmacies all over. And with the regulations and rules, you have to consolidate. My son runs the pharmacy now, and we do regular pharmacy.

Leahy: Is it still a Medicine Shop?

Harshbarger: No, it’s called Premier Pharmacy.

Leahy: So you didn’t sell it?

Harshbarger: Well, your franchise is 20 years. And you choose to go on and make your own pharmacy name or incorporate it any way you want to.

Leahy: And really, you’re better off once you’ve been doing it for 20 years.

Harshbarger: You should know by then how to run a pharmacy.

Leahy: So you don’t need them. But Medicine Shop now is not quite as prominent as it once was.

Harshbarger: No, I think it was Medicap. A lot of people that was a cash cow. Cardinal bought them, which is always a seller. And so when that transition happened, we just bought another building and we called it what we wanted to call it. And then you run it just as you do. When you have a franchise, you pay those franchise fees for 20 years.

Leahy: Oh yeah. You get sick of them.

Harshbarger: It was a good lesson. If you’re ever fretful about running a business on your own or stepping out, they’re there to help you. That model has changed totally in the pharmacy realm.

Leahy: So your son now owns it, runs it. And what’s it called again?

Harshbarger: Premier Pharmacy.

Leahy: How many outlets do you have up there?

Harshbarger: No, we’ve consolidated to one pharmacy, because like I said, the rules and regulations on shipping out of state or even in states have changed so drastically with pharmacy benefit managers and what the rules and regulations are with the FDA and state boards. It’s more conducive.

It makes more business sense. Think about the pandemic. Thank the good Lord we had a drive-through window and we could mail everything. And so that set a model up. It’s changed every profession, if you want to know the truth.

The pandemic has changed every profession. And we were ready for that, because we’re licensed in several states. And all you had to do was let them drive through to be able to talk to us, or you shipped it out.

Leahy: So you owned and operate your own small business for 30 years. You still own it, your son still runs it and you’re divested from it.

Harshbarger: I’m divested from it.

Leahy: But during that period of time, you made a lot of money.

Harshbarger: You’re successful. And not everybody who runs a small business is successful.

Leahy: No, not at all.

Harshbarger: But when you surround yourself with people who are successful, you learn over the years. You learn what works and what doesn’t work.

Leahy: So over the period of 30 years living in that district, you made a lot of money providing a service. And you chose them to take some of that money and put it into your congressional campaign.

Harshbarger: Yes. How did you know?

Leahy: (Chuckles) It’s everywhere. It’s everywhere. That was one of the criticisms. You used your own money to run for Congress, but you ended up winning.

Harshbarger: Yes, sir.

Leahy: And we’ll talk about that and more, and what you found in Congress. Hmmm. I can tell that a small business person might have a problem with the way Nancy Pelosi’s dictatorial reign is.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
















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