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: $350 million (purchased by CVS in 2014)
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.
The Cuban government confiscated the stores in 1961, which forced Navarros to escape to the United States. 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 28 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.