Columbus IGA & Stillwater Family Pharmacy won the State Farm Family Business Award in the Medium Business category. The Family Business awards are presented annually by Montana State University Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
The Columbus IGA and Stillwater Pharmacy is very much a family business – that of the Matovich Family. And, the family and their business are very much a pillar of the community of Columbus.
For the Matoviches their entry into entrepreneurship and the grocery business began when George Matovich bought Davis Thriftway of Columbus in 1973. When George bought the business, he had little knowledge about the grocery business. But he must have learned quickly, because while he began with a store that had 5,800 square feet of space, within two years he had doubled the space, and by 1977, it was necessary to remodel again, adding 3000 square feet more, which included produce coolers, a large walk-in freezer and meat coolers.
George’s daughter and two sons all worked in the store growing up, and it helped put all three through college.
In 1975, one of those son’s, Paul, who had majored in Business Marketing and Management at Eastern Montana College (now MSU-Billings), decided to re-enter the family business. He had been working for the US Postal Services in Provo, Utah.
As Paul took over the reins in 1987, he added a retail pharmacy.
Fast forward to 2017, and Paul has expanded George’s original hardware/grocery store through many remodels and upgrades to the bright, modern supermarket and pharmacy it is today.
Paul Matovich was named USA International Retailer of the Year in 2015.
Paul also has a daughter and two sons, and just as before, they too worked in the store throughout high school and college – from the deli, to unloading delivery trucks, to helping people out to their cars with their groceries. And, just as before, one of those sons returned to the family business.
Mike came back to the business after getting a degree from the University of Montana as a Registered Pharmacist. After graduation, Mike moved to Portland, Oregon, where he managed one of Costco’s busiest pharmacies. When the day came that Paul found himself without a pharmacist, Mike decided it was time to step back into the family business.
Mike moved back to Columbus and quickly set down roots for himself and his family. He and wife, Rebekah, whom he met while working in the pharmacy in Portland, quickly immersed themselves, not only in the business, but in bettering pharmacy in the state of Montana. Mike not only works at the family business, but offers his services to the local hospital, sits on a national board for independent pharmacies, pioneered a business of uniting independent pharmacists in the state (Montana Family Pharmacies), participates in the University of Montana’s Board of Visitors panel, consults for several health care entities around the state and is actively involved in the Montana Pharmacy Association. Rebekah has sat on the Montana pharmacy Association’s Board and currently sits as Vice President of the Board of Pharmacy, as well as working as a Pharmacy Technician at the family business.