20 Under 40: Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson has never worked a job that wasn’t in a pharmacy. He grew up working in his dad’s pharmacy in Missouri and has been a stock boy, delivery boy, technician, intern, pharmacist, pharmacy manager and now owner.
Johnson, 39, who had previously worked at Lyon’s Corner Drug and Soda Fountain for about three years, got a call out of the blue from the then owners of Lyon’s to see if he would be interested in purchasing the business.
“I uncharacteristically said yes immediately,” Johnson said.
There was more to it than that. Johnson had to check out the books and look over the various aspects of the business, and everything just made sense to him.
See all of the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s 2021 20 Under 40 winners here.
“There’s risk associated with any business venture, but something that’s so well established and so cared for by the town, I saw only positives,” Johnson said.
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Johnson purchased the pharmacy in December 2019. He said he likes being an entrepreneur, even if that means only about 40% of his day is actually spent being a pharmacist.
About four months into owning the pharmacy, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Johnson said he knew from the start it was going to be “a hot mess.” There were many sleepless nights worrying about the health of the business he had just bought.
“Bankruptcy was a clear and present danger, and I knew that if I continued business as usual, we would be closed within a year,” Johnson said.
Johnson had just purchased a new delivery van and worked to establish prescription deliveries daily in Steamboat Springs and twice a week in other parts of the county. He worked to establish protocols for inside Lyon’s to protect the students and senior citizens who work for him.
During the pandemic, Johnson worked away from home from 7 a.m. until as late as 9:30 p.m. Late in 2020, Johnson started to prepare for a mass vaccination effort.
“When I started hearing about a vaccine, I kicked, scratched and screamed my way to the front of the vaccine delivery line,” Johnson said. “I flubbed and applied for both (vaccines) and got approved for both.”
He volunteered to help Routt County Public Health with vaccine clinics, drawing on his experience conducting flu vaccine campaigns in the past. He did a few clinics under the umbrella of public health and then helped to vaccinate people at Casey’s Pond and The Haven.
With the help of his wife and four kids, Johnson started holding vaccine clinics each Sunday, vaccinating 200 to 240 people in about two hours.
“Matt is always one step ahead of the problem. He will find a solution or personally take on a project to ensure it is done correctly,” said Kelli Johnson, Matt’s wife. “He worked tirelessly seven days a week for five months to ensure he could help vaccinate as many people as possible in a short amount of time.”
Johnson said Lyon’s has given nearly 3,000 doses of the three vaccines, and he hopes the pandemic has shown people how important a place like Lyon’s is for a town like Steamboat.
“I told my kids that even in a worldwide pandemic, even you have a part to play,” Johnson said. “I hope the simple act of doing something empowered them and helped them make sense of the mess that was 2020.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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