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Women Who Mean Business

Melody Savley is a Woman Who Means Business

Melody Savley may be in the health care arena with her Alps Pharmacy locations in Springfield and Nixa, but she's also in the customer service arena and constantly looking for ways to be more consumer focused.

By Jenna deJong | Art Direction by Danielle Giarratano | Photography by Brandon Alms

Mar 2021

Melody Savley: Co-owner and Chief Pharmacy Officer of Alps Pharmacy
Photo by Brandon AlmsMelody Savley: Co-owner and Chief Pharmacy Officer of Alps Pharmacy Purchase Photo

Melody Savley has been immersed in the health care arena since she was 16 years old. Now, as the owner of Alps Pharmacy, Savley leads a team of 60 employees to serve up to 5,000 patients in southwest Missouri. When she’s not working with her team to find new ways to serve her clientele, she is advocating for various bills and policy issues affecting pharmacy at both the state and federal level. For her, Savley says it has always been, and always will be, about the patient. In fact, it’s this customer service that makes Alps Pharmacy so successful. 

From a young age, Savley had a gut feeling she’d work in health care. Though she began working at 14 years old, she was 16 when she landed her first job at a local pharmacy in her hometown of Dexter, Missouri. She attended the University of Missouri–Kansas City and graduated in 1980 at 22 years old. “I started out at $10 an hour, and some of the grocery store people were mad because I was making as much as they were, and they were clerks at a union store,” Savley says. At the time, she was also overcoming a stigma in the industry. “When I started as a pharmacist, people would come in the pharmacy, look right at me and ask,  ‘Where is the pharmacist?’ Hello, it's me—a woman,” Savley says. “The common image of a pharmacist back then was a white-haired, white, older gentleman with a white jacket.” Nevertheless, she didn’t bat an eye. Her first professional job was with the Safeway Food Barn in Kansas City before moving to Springfield, where she eventually became the director of pharmacy at Price Cutter in 2002. At the time, she met her now ex-husband who was planning to open a grocery store in Springfield. He asked if she’d come along and open her own pharmacy, and in 2004 Alps Pharmacy was born.  


Today, Alps Pharmacy encompasses three pharmacies and also sells home medical equipment. The company also includes Alps LongTerm Care Pharmacy, which services residential care facilities, group homes, assisted living, nursing homes and hospice. And the Nixa-based enterprise is still growing. Last year, the company’s sales reached $37 million, and by the end of the year, Savley plans to open a new retail location, marking her third presence in Nixa. 

In the years since Alps Pharmacy made its debut in southwest Missouri, the company has experienced exponential growth, which is mostly attributed to Savley’s streamlined customer service model. It works like this: Eight employees talk with approximately 1,200 patients a month to ensure all patients receive their medications on the same day each month. During these conversations, Savley’s employees have the opportunity to detect any issues the patient might be experiencing, whether that involves side effects, payment or access. The team then works with both the patient and the physician to solve any issues. This proactive approach takes the customer experience one step further and ensures the patient is getting the care they need. “It really cuts down on the unwanted meds [like] filling a prescription that a patient may not need or want,” Savley says. The team even goes so far as using Pill Pak packaging that includes directions for taking the meds, and they use a robot to ensure labeling accuracy. They also make deliveries using a fleet of cars.

“When I started as a pharmacist, people would come in the pharmacy, look right at me and ask, ‘Where is the pharmacist?’ Hello, it’s me—a woman.”
— Melody Savley

Though she’s zeroed in on the local scene, Savley is also active in state and federal efforts to improve health care. She served 10 years on the Missouri Pharmacy Association Board and served as its president in 2017. She also serves on the Missouri Pharmacy Association’s Legislative Committee where she helped pass Senate Bill 826, part of which now protects pharmacies from the gag rule. According to Savley, this rule meant pharmacies had to sign a contract that barred them from discussing the cost of drugs with patients. For example, if the copay for a drug was $75 and it cost $10 in cash, the pharmacists could not disclose that information. If they did, insurance companies could terminate their contact. “That was a huge part of that SB826 that we are allowed to speak freely for the patient and give them the best advice.” Governor Michael Parson signed the bill in July 2018 at Alps Pharmacy.


Today, Savley is focused on growing Alps Pharmacy with new projects. She’s been especially busy coordinating efforts regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The pharmacy recently received 1,000 doses and the business has hosted clinics for its patients and the community at large. She also continues to give back to the industry by serving as a luminary for the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network, and she stays involved with the Missouri Pharmacy Association. “My vision for the next 10 years is to see pharmacists operating at the top of their professional license,” Savley says. Plus, she still hopes to see an improved health care system for the entire United States. “Improved health leads to better productivity, fewer sick days and higher performance,” she says, “and obviously, reduces health care costs for this nation.”    

MORE ABOUT MELODY

2021 VISION

Growing business in all three pharmacies and expanding services across both Nixa and Missouri.

FAVORITE THING TO DO IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI

Spending time with friends and family on Table Rock Lake.

FAVORITE ITEM ON HER DESK/IN HER OFFICE

A bowl of candy and a box of toys for when her grandchildren visit.

HER WORK STYLE

Queen Networker.