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Thomas "Rocky" Grande


It all started in March of 1956. I was born to parents Rudy and Angelina Grande at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My first 8 years of school were at Holy Ghost Catholic School in Albuquerque, a catholic school. Anyone who grew up in the 60’s knows that I got a pretty quality grade school education under the strict tutelage of the priests and nuns at the time. Anyway, I took to mathematics and physical education at that time. I learned to appreciate what catholic school had taught me when I went to Wilson Junior High School for 9th grade, a public school. I had already learned most of what they were teaching. However I did learn that there were more advanced mathematics classes and their sports were noticeably ahead of those in grade school. After 1 year it was Highland High School (in Albuquerque). Somewhere in those 3 years my dad had told me that he almost went to pharmacy school, but instead he chose my mom and the United States Navy. Pharmacy School sounded great to me. So it was off to the University Of New Mexico Pharmacy School (in Albuquerque). I received my Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy degree in 1979. At the time there was absolutely nothing in the way of jobs in hospital pharmacy, which was my initial career of choice. But there was a hospital that was willing to hire a new graduate. Then the whole ballgame changed.

It was off to Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1980, Las Vegas was still a small town, and the perception outside of Vegas was that only casino workers lived here. The hospital that was willing to take the chance on me was Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, which is now known as University Medical Center. After 4 years I moved on to an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) pharmacy, which was formed from a large HMO/Insurance carrier at the time. This lasted until 1988 when the insurance company decided it was less expensive to run their pharmacy services through a chain pharmacy, which is where I was sent. I spent 10 years with this chain, which consisted of 3 years at a very busy store on the front line. After 2 years I was promoted to management of another of the chain’s stores. After 2 years in management an opening became available for the “graveyard” shift at the same chain. The schedule was 7 days on and 7 days off, so I couldn’t resist. That was great for 5 years until my life changed again drastically.

In 1998 an opening became available at the mail order pharmacy established by a major pharmaceutical company right here in Las Vegas. They employed 200 pharmacists at 1 point in time. I had dreamed of something like this and actually thought this would be my last stop in pharmacy. Working 8 hour shifts Monday through Friday was great. But, where I am today was being directly affected by me getting this job. For 1 thing they had a compounding pharmacy department in the facility. After getting my first shift in that department I was hooked. It was a fantastic discipline that I really enjoyed doing. The second stroke of serendipity occurred in that I met Matt LaSarso, another pharmacist, at this job. Anyway, the dream job lasted only until somewhere in 2004 when the mail order company changed the status of its Las Vegas facility. The company completely eliminated compounding. I was transferred to customer service. Suffice it to say that customer service was not my particular cup of tea. Somewhere between 2004 and 2005 my buddy Matt LaSarso moved on to Kronos Pharmacy, a local compounding pharmacy. He heard that I was less than happy in customer service at the mail order house and as karma would have it, there happened to be an opening at the compounding pharmacy. The pharmacist in charge at Kronos was Gener Tejero. I was hired on at Kronos in 2005. As destiny would have it, something was said at 1 point or another and circumstances happened in a totally random way where Gener, Matt, and I corroborated to get the crazy idea that we could make a go of it as an independent compounding pharmacy.

So, in June of 2006 we established Solutions Specialty Pharmacy in Henderson, Nevada (the only place we could afford the rent at the time). That entire operation was about the size of the front end of our current location in Las Vegas. We have gone from just the 3 of us partners (and actually not paying ourselves for a couple of months), to having a total payroll of 14 employees, and what I consider to be a very generous compensation package for the employees.

Even though there are 3 of us partners in this business, I do have my own special place in the current organization. The brains of the organization – that certainly isn’t me. The brains are more Gener and Matt’s place. Their knowledge of running a compounding pharmacy as a working pharmacy business is largely because of the 2 of them. I have 2 major areas of responsibility at Solutions. For 1 thing I am the treasurer of the organization. I control the finances. As part of that responsibility I was responsible for bringing on the 401k plan we currently have at our workplace. I bring this up as a big deal because not every job offers that in these tough financial times. My other area of responsibility is that I compound sterile preparations (injections) for Solutions. This is important for a couple of reasons. For 1 thing many patients really like the fact a pharmacist is compounding their sterile preparation, as opposed to a technician. If you don’t get the full meaning of that statement you probably haven’t been keeping up with the current news regarding compounding pharmacies and sterile preparations. Another big factor in choosing to have pharmacists compound sterile preparations at our facility is this is a major part that is under current scrutiny by both the public sector and the government and their various agencies at this time.

So, that’s my professional story. On a personal level I’m pretty fortunate to be where I am today. Being partners with Gener and Matt is a true honor. My life started at age 50.