Olaf Rose, Elefanten-Apotheke, established 1575
Steinfurt and Münster
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite
Ever since the resale price maintenance for over-the-counter items was abolished in 2004, pharmacies in Germany have been facing stiff competition and only those that break new ground have a chance to survive. Olaf Rose was well- aware of this situation. Owner of the traditional “ElefantenApotheke” in Steinfurt, he decided to give his business a fresh look with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, and it did not take him very long to reap the rewards.
In the 1990s, Olaf Rose bought CorelDRAW 6, his first Corel graphics software, and quickly had an argument with tax authorities. "Why would a pharmacist need a graphic suite,” they asked, and went on to deny him a tax deduction for his purchase. Back then, it was not easy for Olaf Rose to prove the opposite. Today, things are different: he has had to design so many marketing materials (catalogues, flyers, letterheads, packaging, web sites, sidewalk displays, logos, bags) that he even considered, at one point, hiring a graphic designer.
“Times are tough for pharmacists,” says Olaf Rose, who received his Doctor of Pharmacy in the United States. “Since the abolition of the resale price maintenance for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, small pharmacies, in particular, have been struggling. And, in any event, it is not possible to make money on prescriptions.” Today, a pharmacist is paid a dispensing fee of barely €5.80 per prescription. “Every year since 2004, we have recorded a deficit in this area.” But, given the already eventful history of the Elefanten-Apotheke in Steinfurt, Olaf Rose has no reason to despair.
Founded in 1575 at the behest of the Count’s personal physician, the pharmacy prospered in the 18th century as a “Hofapotheke” (Apothecary to the Court). The name or title “Elefanten-Apotheke” goes back to the time when Count Ludwig of Bentheim and Steinfurt was became, by marriage, a member of the Elephant-Order. Over the centuries, the pharmacy changed hands many times until 1904 when Olaf Rose’s grandfather acquired and held onto it through war, destruction, reconstruction and expansion in the 60s and 70s.
Diversify and survive
To survive, Olaf Rose had to innovate and diversify. Along with the traditional Elefanten-Apotheke in the middle of Steinfurt’s historic center, the young pharmacist now owns a cosmetic store as well as Pharmaxi, a discount outlet, Coerde Pharmacy, a modern concept, an online store and, in partnership with the Bertelsmann Club, a mail-order pharmacy. “Given our various business operations, we are heavy users of CorelDRAW,” explains Olaf Rose. “Each quarter, we produce over 20,000 promotional flyers with the newest Pharmaxi offers. In addition, we create catalogues for the Bertelsmann Club with more than 16 pages of product and price information.” For this, he masks product shots provided by pharmaceutical companies against a new, colored background. “I publish the final files to PDF and send them to the print shop or advertising agency I work with.” But he also created a whole new look for the discount pharmacy Pharmaxi using CorelDRAW and eye-catching colors like lime green and glaring red for store spaces, stationery and marketing materials. “The colors are striking and the perfect edge effect for a discount pharmacy,” says Olaf Rose. For the Elefanten-Apotheke he used a discreet and refined turquoise, for the Coerde-Apotheke a trendy magenta with green and a modern lower-case lettering. Success proved him right: his businesses are all well-positioned for the future and have a broadbased clientele. “In the future, pharmacists will work more and more in an advisory capacity,” says Olaf Rose. “That’s what we are focusing on and that’s what we are working on.”
Never change a winning team
With three pharmacies, forty employees, a mail-order service and his own research work as a clinical pharmacologist, one might ask who does all the work for him. “I do it all myself,” is the simple answer. And he admits that he is frequently working to tight deadlines. Moreover, he taught himself how to use CorelDRAW and subsequently the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. “Oh well, the intuitive user interface actually makes it quite easy,” he comments modestly. While openly admitting to having no idea about tracing and similar tasks and to being a non-professional, he says that CorelDRAW facilitates things. “Working on and off“, I complete a 16-page brochure in one-to-two weeks.“ A Pharmaxi flyer takes me one-to- two days.” He single-handedly designed the packaging for a medicine for mental illnesses that he prepares in his laboratory. “I modified a sunflower in the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite and placed a color filter on it,” explains Olaf Rose. The result is professional-looking. When asked whether he had ever thought of using a different ® ®p roduct, he says he once considered using Adobe InDesign . “At that time, I was using CorelDRAW Graphic Suite 11. But now, I have decided to stick with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite” Why, we wanted to know. “Well, why should I change to Adobe?” he wondered. “Never change a winning team, as the saying goes!”