May 6, 2016
Charles Morton established Economy Drug Store in downtown Neenah in 1932 with $600. It was ideally located across the street from the Neenah Theatre where it attracted a regular crowd to its soda fountain for 5-cent Coca-Colas.
All Charles needed back then to open a pharmacy was a six-month pharmacy course through Marquette University and a board exam. In fact, it was a full year before Charles established a prescription service at Economy Drug, later named Morton Drug, because the store primarily sold toiletries and sundries.
Fast forward 84 years, and Charles’s grandson Steve Morton is still in the prescription drug business at the Neenah-based Morton LTC, a pharmacy dedicated to the provision of prescription drugs and delivery systems for residents at long-term care (LTC) facilities. His grandfather’s founding enterprise would grow to 14 retail pharmacies throughout east central Wisconsin before changing course in 2011 to focus solely on LTC business. “Valley VNA and Morton are both age-old organizations within the community,” Steve said. “We grew up together. My father Peter was the VNA board president two times, serving throughout the seventies and eighties.”
Steve Morton, president of Morton LTC, is also a board member of Valley VNA Senior Services, now serving his sixth year. A CPA by trade, he formally joined Morton Drug Company in 1984 after having grown up in the family business sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms, and stocking shelves. He remembers Peter Morton establishing the first unit-dosing system in the Fox Valley in the 1960s. “Unit dosing, as it was called back then, was the idea of packaging individual doses of medicine so it was easier to track how they were administered in places like nursing homes. We’d manually fill carts on the second floor of our downtown Neenah store and have to lift the cart down the back steps to take it out to the homes we served.”
Today’s technology involves electronic medication administration records tracked by bar code, robotic dispensing, innovative med packaging, on-site leased med carts, and secure daily delivery to facilities serving more than 4,000 residents throughout eastern Wisconsin. “We’re small enough to be flexible and meet the unique needs of our customers, but large enough to be a strong regional player. That’s the sweet spot,” said Steve.
Valley VNA is a Morton LTC customer, and the relationship extends far beyond a one-dimensional business relationship. “We work in the same space, caring for seniors. We both carefully consider how we can work with quality local businesses,” Steve said. “Valley VNA benefits from a highly experienced staff, too, and it shows in the excellent work they do.”
Steve and his wife Andrea’s children have in recent years joined the family business: Kaitlin Morton Springborn, as human resources manager; and Charlie, as a warehouse manager in the company’s Morton Safety division. Steve and Andrea enjoy the company of their two young granddaughters and spending time traveling in their motorhome.