DECATUR - Wole Adeoye views the expansion of Victory Pharmacy the same way he did the start of his business 10 years ago.
He puts the focus on his religious faith and praises God for all the blessings he's been given to make it all possible.
"Everything has come together to make it happen," Adeoye said. "It's been a great journey. It's a testimony to what God can do."
Victory Pharmacy, 163 N. Water St. in downtown Decatur, was named the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Outstanding Small Business of the Year.
Chamber President Randy Prince said the businesses that were honored have really added to the community. Small Business Executive Council Chairman Mark Avery said picking the winners involved tough choices this year.
As it looks to expand, Adeoye said his attention remains on caring for customers, which includes more than just providing services from behind the counter.
"I have confidence they're recognizing what we're doing in the community," Adeoye said. "We have a passion for what we do. The bottom line is taking care of customers."
Adeoye said it's important to recognize the needs of each customer.
"It's the way I think health care delivery should be done," Adeoye said. "The ultimate goal is to make sure the customer gets better. You have to enjoy doing it to do it effectively."
He hopes to begin serving new customers on the east side of Decatur when Victory Pharmacy opens a second location inside the new Save-A-Lot store in the Pines Shopping Center at 22nd and William streets. Serving the elderly remains important, he said.
The focus of the new location will be filling prescriptions, which Adeoye said is where about 90 percent of his business comes from.
"I'm praying God will make a way before the end of the year," Adeoye said. "I recognize what God has done. I'm not that smart to do it."
In the meantime, much of his attention remains on the community and giving back like it has over the last 10 years. Victory Pharmacy often organizes community health fairs on topics such as Medicare Part D, breast cancer, the heart and kidneys with the help of local doctors and Adeoye's church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
"We are involved because we believe in our community," Adeoye said. "It's essential to give back."
Small businesses such as Victory that can give so much back remain at the heart of the community. In fact, the Chamber estimates 95 percent of its members are considered small businesses.
"We keep the money locally and pay taxes to give back to our community," Adeoye said. "Mega companies have to take their money elsewhere."
Adeoye has had to rely on his faith at various points in his life, even before he started the business. A tornado in 1996 destroyed his family's home and almost took his life.
"That was an experience of a lifetime," Adeoye said. "I thought I was dead."
With only about $1,500 in savings, he had to have faith to start the pharmacy a few years later.
He has kept the business going even through a rough first few years and again with a changing industry and economy. Among other issues, the pharmacy isn't receiving timely payments from the state for reimbursement, filling orders by mail is becoming more prevalent and bigger stores are dropping prices.
"Cash flow is tough," Adeoye said. "All that creates hardship. Despite all the challenges, God makes a way. We've held steady and really haven't declined."
Still, Adeoye sees the need for an independent pharmacy and is glad to receive the recognition for those who help him, especially his wife and staff.
"After 10 years, it could be seen as a vote of confidence in what we're doing," Adeoye said. "We're doing some things right. It's not something I can do by myself. All of the staff has the same passion I have. It feels like family, and we are a family business."
Next Sunday: Learn more about Goss Grfx, this year's Mary Gladney Micro-Business of the Year award winner.