Family business has new partner

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New addition . . .La Hoods the Chemist owners (from left) Mark La Hood and his sister Ann have been joined by new partner Steve Jo. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

Chemist got a new business partner – Invercargill pharmacist Steve Jo in a departure from having a fully family-owned entity.

Before the partnership was formed, the Main St outlet was in the hands of the La Hood family, with Mark and his sister Ann running the business started by father David La Hood in the late 1950s.

The burgeoning administrative side of the business played a part in the decision to take on a business partner, Mark said.

Administration had increased “tremendously” over the years.

Mark will still be working full-time in the business, with most of his time being spent behind a desk.

Mark said his father thought he was so fortunate to have a building in Main St Gore, which was a thriving town.

“He loved the people and the work, and worked hard to build a strong business supported by his family,” Mark said.

“He always used to say ‘I’m lucky to have had the best shop, in the best town, in the best country’,” he said.

“He taught us the value of hard work and always thought holidays were a complete waste of time – he loved putting his energy into serving his customers and got his reward from the smiles on their faces.”

Mark had really never known life without involvement in the pharmacy.

“I started working here from the age of 5 or 6 – I’ve worked all my life here.”

As a child and then teen he carried out tasks such as washing bottles, painting the outside of the building and sweeping outside the shop.

David semi-retired in 1984 when Mark qualified as a pharmacist and four years later Ann joined the business, also as a pharmacist.

The business has about 20 staff.

“We’ve never had a quiet day.”

The new partnership came about through the one of the shop’s major suppliers who knew Mark was looking for a partner.

Mr Jo owns South City Pharmacy in Invercargill and is looking forward to the new partnership.

“It was an opportunity to work beside Mark and learn from him,” Mr Jo said.

His priority was to learn as much as he could from Mark and build on the excellent foundation the business had.

Mr Jo is vice-president of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand Southland and a South Alive Community Action group board member.

He was born in South Korea and his family emigrated to New Zealand 16 years ago.