The Rotary Club of Pine Bluff has honored local pharmacy owner Lelan Stice with the 2018 George A. Makris Sr. Small Business Award. The honor was given to Strice on Tuesday at the Pine Bluff Country Club, with guest speaker Reginald Cole leaving business owners with an encouraging message.


Initiated by the Rotary Club of Pine Bluff in 1993, the George A. Makris Sr. Small Business Award was created to recognize a small business in the Greater Pine Bluff area that supports and promotes the city, that is an advocate for the development of the small business sector of the local economy and that has improved the community by providing employment and investing in Pine Bluff — all while managing their business with a high level of ethics.


According to Rotarian Ted Drake, the club defines a small business as one that is a private, for-profit entity with no more than 75 employees.


This year, the Rotary Club presented the award to Stice for what they said is his commitment to the community’s health and pharmaceutical services through his business, Doctor’s Orders Pharmacy.


Doctor’s Orders offers full local pharmaceutical services, including delivery, with the same technological capabilities of big chain pharmacies that enable their customers to fill prescriptions, order refills and more through the store’s official website and mobile application.


The mission of the Doctor’s Orders Pharmacy is to improve the health and welfare of patients in White Hall, Pine Bluff, and the surrounding areas, Stice said. He has partnered with a number of charities and local institutions to bring this vision to life.


“We’ve provided over a half a million dollars’ worth of discounts,” said Stice, describing a recent Doctor’s Orders partnership with Jefferson Regional Medical Center and other local clinics.


Stice created a program through his pharmacy that provides free vitamins for children, as well as a free diabetes test strip program for individuals who have little or health insurance. Customers have access to these perks seven days a week at their 2302 W. 28th Ave. location in Pine Bluff, and at 1600 W. Holland Ave., Suite 101A in White Hall.


Stice said he aims to help patients become more adherent to medications.


Guests at the 2018 Rotary Small Business Appreciation award ceremony left with more than a few honorable mentions when keynote speaker Cole addressed several problems that small business owners make when first starting out.


Cole, who began his career as an AT&T executive business consultant, left his it all behind after 18 years to figure out what he felt had been missing.


“AT&T was a decent living, but I was still unsatisfied,” Cole said. “Something inside of me was saying ‘more.’”


Cole realized that he missed spending his childhood years walking through downtown Pine Bluff with the traffic of people, neon lights and various storefronts. He wondered what happened to all the great institutions he had grown familiar with. He said he eventually discovered what he had been missing: passion.


This passion for the city’s restoration led to the creation of his health food store, Natural Bliss, located on 7203 Sheridan Road in White Hall, which celebrates its fifth year in operation on July 13.


With diabetes as the third leading cause of death in southeast Arkansas, Cole decided to provide the community with healthy, organic, non-GMO products and foods through his store. Natural Bliss offers a range of products that cater to health, wellness, body, and hair needs. The products are handmade and all natural.


“I want to be a blessing in any way possible,” Cole said.


Cole expressed that in order for new business owners to succeed, small business owners must have a passion, even if that means working hard for little or no money. His final key to success includes a genuine love for the people in the community.


“Small business owners are economic engines,” said Cole, adding that he believes this is what makes them important.


Owning a small business can be a roller coaster ride, Cole said, but he left the audience with one token of advice to soothe new business owners’ fears.


“In your struggle, don’t quit,” Cole said. “It gets better.”


Rotary Club of Pine Bluff president Carolyn Blakely extended a thank-you to participants and club members during her closing remarks. Blakely is expected to be inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame on Aug. 30 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock for her significant contributions to the state.