When your family has a legacy of entrepreneurship, it is only natural that you start your own business.
When Rotimi and Sheryl Martins started Caesar’s Pharmacy 25 years ago, Sheryl had that family track record in her DNA to help ensure success.
“I’d always dreamt of owning a pharmacy,” Mrs Martins says.
The Warwick Academy graduate earned her Bachelor of Pharmacy Degree from the University of Wales in 1978 and a Master’s in Management in 1982.
She worked overseas in Wales and New York before gaining hands-on experience in Bermuda working at the hospital, the Phoenix Stores and then at Somerset Pharmacy.
While working in those pharmacies, she kept a notebook by her bed in which she would write ideas down for what she would do when she finally owned her own business.
Mrs Martins’ dream became a reality when she and her husband, Rotimi, opened Caesar’s Pharmacy in December 1995.
It is a family affair, with Rotimi actively involved, her sister, Lynn Ball, the accountant, her sister Michelle Caesar, working alternate weekends and her uncle, Wilbert Wellman, also helping out.
Mrs Martins says her faith is integral to how she runs the business and while there are items that reflect Christianity in the shop, she says, “I’m not trying to ram it down anyone’s throat but I won’t offer anything that goes against my beliefs.”
“I try not to make any decisions without praying. That’s vital to me. As long as I remember this is God’s work and not some big ‘I’ sort of thing, God will lead us.”
Also integral to her success is coming from a family of business people.
“Caesar was a well-known name in Somerset so that’s why we thought to use the Caesar name. My grandfather, John Caesar, who emigrated from St. Kitts as a teenager, worked his way up the ladder to own his own business (a farm and grocery store) on this street (Somerset Road), my aunt, Martha Carter, she was a Caesar, owned ‘Martha’s’ next door.”
Other family members that have had or have businesses nearby, include her cousin, Llewellyn Carter, who owned the photography shop, Llewries, and her cousin, Beryl Furbert, who along with her husband David, own Mr. Chicken.
“Beryl’s mother used to have a restaurant where Woody’s is today,” says Mrs Martins, while adding that her sisters co-own Aeries Adventures, a preschool in Devonshire. “We’ve all had various different businesses, all stemming from my grandpa.”
She says growing up in an environment where business was the norm taught her management skills at an early age. “You’re just groomed from childhood, it was ingrained in us.”
“We learned from the bottom up,” she adds. “That way, you can appreciate those that you have working for you.”
That appreciation creates an environment where staff becomes family.
“There isn’t anything I would ask someone to do that I wouldn’t do myself. Rotimi and I believe that we are successful because of our staff, and are very thankful because of them.
“We share our vision with them, and our manager, Mr Kris Puciaty, and assistant manager, Mrs Petrina Proctor-Jackson, help us to carry out that vision.
“We have full-time staff members that have been with us for over 15 years; Maralyn Wales (20 years), Jennifer Hall (15 years), Veronica Robinson (15 years), as well as some new employees including, Stevonna Wales, Coral-lee Browne, and Christia Swan, our newly qualified Bermudian Pharmacist. Sonya Lapsley, Norbert Seymour and Mandy Cann are part-time employees and Crie Hollis and Jada Phillips are our students.”
Mrs Martins says that Caesar’s aims to be a haven for their customers.
“We will offer the best advice we can, and we will offer it in a friendly and professional environment. They can trust us knowing they can say whatever, and it will stay here. Good customer service is what we are all about.”
One of the ways Caesar’s shows their appreciation to customers is remembering their names. In fact, Mrs Martins still remembers their first customer, Clifford Russell.
“The day before we opened, he dropped off his prescription. I said, ‘We’re not open yet,’ and he said, ‘I’ll leave it. When you’re open, I’ll come back.’
“I will never forget that and be eternally grateful. It’s unforgettable.”
One of the services Caesar’s is renowned for is the delivery of medications to patients at their homes and to nursing homes. It was one of those ideas Mrs Martins kept in her notebook and brought to fruition when Caesar’s opened.
“We had some new concepts at the time, like working with nursing homes,” she says. “We started that, and realized focusing on the elderly was the way of the future. That’s my big interest.”
One of the reasons she can make those visits is because of their pharmacist/manager Kris Puciaty. “He’s been a tremendous asset to us. He’s younger than us, with up-to-date techniques and ideas to improve the business.” She says having him around to run the business and take care of the social media and marketing frees her up to take care of the nursing homes.
Caesar’s will be taking the home visits one step further by getting a pill packaging machine shortly.
“That way we will be able to supply our clients more efficiently with meds in a tear-off package.
“Instead of providing blister packs, we will be able to supply medications in a strip pack, that will be easy for the patient to tear off according to the time the dosage is due. You see that being done in the US now and we will be bringing that to Bermuda.”
Caesar’s was also an early adopter of offering a consultation room, where they can do medication reviews, blood pressure measurements and offer various wellness advice programmes in a private setting within the pharmacy.
Presently, Government nurses and a physician from the Department of Health offer a monthly mini-clinic at the pharmacy.
It’s this attention to detail that shows Caesar’s isn’t just about selling medications and other products but also assisting people in living the best life they can, because they are focused on their neighbours.
To celebrate their 25 years, they are planning a health fair, introducing loyalty cards for their regular customers and holding loyalty appreciation days throughout the year, culminating in a 25 percent sale on Dec 9th, their actual 25th Anniversary.
Mrs Martins sums up their approach at Caesar’s saying: “We’re here to help. The focus for us is not to make a million dollars. Our focus is on how to help the community.”