Country of origin: Cuba
Year came to U.S.: 1961
Education: BS, Pharmacy, Havana University
Business: Navarro Discount Pharmacies (1961)
Headquarters: Medley, FL
2014 revenue: >$340 million
U.S. employment: 2,000
José Navarro, Sr. opened his first pharmacy in Miami with $4,000 from an insurance policy.
Navarro Discount Pharmacies became the largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain in the United States.
José Navarro, Sr. originally wanted to attend medical school but had to change course when Cuban President Gerardo Machado shuttered the University of Havana. Instead, he opened a pharmacy. That first small neighborhood store became a staple to the local community, which led to the opening of a second store on the island.
After considerable political turmoil in Cuba, the government confiscated the stores, which forced the family to flee to the United States in 1961. Navarro cashed in an insurance policy and used $4,000 to open a pharmacy in what would become the heart of Miami’s Little Havana.
Navarro Discount Pharmacies flourished and both of Navarro’s sons became pharmacists. That first store grew into a chain of 33 stores in the Miami-Dade area. The company became the largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain in the United States and one of the most profitable pharmacies on a sales-per-square-foot basis. In September 2014, CVS Caremark purchased the company for an undisclosed amount.