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Dayle Sandler, co-owner of Medical West, and her family have the formula perfected for working together. Sandler and her two brothers, Jeff and Ken, are heavily involved in the company founded by their parents 60 years ago. They are a close-knit group with deep roots in St. Louis (all graduated from University City High School), and they take pride in offering specialty health care products for those with medical conditions or recovering from surgery. “My dad is a pharmacist, and he first owned a neighborhood pharmacy with a little lunch counter,” Sandler explains. “My mom would bake the pies, and they sold items found at variety stores. Then he opened a professional pharmacy in a medical building, which was a unique concept at the time.” That was 1955, and the company has grown exponentially since its beginnings. The original location (which later moved up the street onto Brentwood Boulevard) shared a building with doctors of various specialties who started referring patients to the pharmacy for orthopedic products, in addition to medicine. “We were among the first pharmacies in the country to have a nurse on staff,” Sandler says. Now, each department—orthopedics, otomy and wound care, compression stockings, adult incontinence and breast prosthetics—has its own staff. “We really credit our parents for our business model,” Sandler says. “We grew up watching them take an interest in each person who came to the store, and we still spend a lot of time with each client. I use my maiden name at work because it means a lot to our customers who know my parents that I’m part of the family.” Sandler, who worked in sales promotion before moving back home to join the company, works at the Clayton location, one of three in the St. Louis area, with Jeff. Ken serves as head of the company at the office headquarters. “We each have developed our own area of specialization within the company,” she explains. “Everyone involved with a family business should work with their strengths, and you have to respect each other’s decisions. Our parents set a great example. They still come into the office and are consulted, and they continue to give very good advice. It was always a family guideline that although we are a retail store, we have a social and moral responsibility to offer kind and attentive care.” all family in the Ken, Dayle and Jeff Sandler of Medical West by karyn meyer // Photos by Bill Barrett There is something gratifying about knowing the face behind a business. St. Louisans have plenty of opportunities to ‘shop local’ and support family operations, while owners in turn take pride in being an integral part of their communities. Don Eisenberg, owner of The Exercise Coach, says he has noticed a desire among local residents to support family-owned businesses. He operates two area locations of the fitness franchise with his daughter, Jessica Phillips, who helps with marketing and advertising and also is a certified personal trainer. The original location opened last July in Webster Groves, the Town & Country one opened in September. “Clients love it,” he says. “As they come to know us, they appreciate that it’s my daughter and I working together. And we also are involved with the chamber of commerce, local business associations and various local events.” Eisenberg has worked in a family business since graduating college. “My wife’s family owned a company that manufactured men’s neckties,” he explains. “We sold it about four years ago, and I stayed on for a few years after that. But I wanted to have my own business again.” He connected with a franchise broker and after meeting with the CEO of The Exercise Coach, which has locations in 11 states, signed on to open four local studios. “We’re a fitness studio, not a gym,” he says. “We cater to people who aren’t avid exercisers; they either don’t enjoy it or just don’t have the time.” Workouts include 20 minutes of strength training and 5 minutes of cardio. The intimate setting 12 | TOWN & style | august 5, 2015 is the opposite of the typical gym scene, and the Eisenbergs have time to really get to know their clients. “Every client works with a personal trainer each time, and our job is to encourage and motivate.” Eisenberg, who always has been active himself with biking, tennis, or resistance training, says the company’s philosophy was a perfect fit for his lifestyle—and working with his daughter again was a bonus. “She worked with me previously and was on board here from the beginning,” he says. Even though they are often at different locations, the two communicate every day. “It’s great working with her,” he says. “She’s really my partner in the business; she’s just as focused on its success. What’s wonderful is the amount of trust that’s present because we’re family. And it’s great being able to operate things in the manner I feel is appropriate.” There are guidelines needed when working with family, Eisenberg notes. “You need to have clear lines of authority and responsibility,” he says. “Someone has to be the boss, especially when multiple family members are involved, and everyone needs to know their role. When you’re at work, it’s about business, but outside the office, you need to have a personal life. You have to separate the two.” Jessica Phillips and Don Eisenberg of The Exercise Coach