02 March 2023

Dispensing good advice to the next generation

Stan Kontos’ role as Executive Chairman at Star Pharmacy Group keeps him busy, but his values of paying it forward have compelled him to start two non-profits. He also sits on the advisory board of Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Stan Kontos in presentation mode
Stan Kontos in presentation mode

Stan Kontos

Master Coach / Executive Chairman / Advisory Board Member
Bachelor of Pharmacy

When Stan Kontos graduated from UniSA antecedent, the South Australia Institute of Technology (SAIT), in 1987 with a degree in Pharmacy, he couldn’t have imagined what the industry would look like 35 years later. When he was starting out, scripts were produced on a typewriter, and the pharmacist dispensed pills, compounded medicine and made creams. Most pharmacists owned their businesses outright.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and pharmacists now use computer technology to check for drug interactions before dispensing medicine, provide vaccinations and supply medications in laboratory-sealed blister packs.

Stan at Graduation holding his Gold Medal for most outstanding Pharmacy student in 1986
On graduation with a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 1986,
Stan Kontos also received the Gold Medal awarded
to the most outstanding student

“I attended the old Pharmacy School at SAIT,” says Stan. “There was no business knowledge or wealth in my family. I was the first person to go to university for a degree, but I was the Gold Medal recipient for most outstanding pharmacy student in 1986.”

Stan worked hard to achieve high grades but still made time to socialise, even if it was only once a week. “The harder you work, the luckier you get,” he says. He completed an internship at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and then went into community pharmacy.

“This hard work paid off during my career as a pharmacist and business owner, and it enabled me to choose my future. After I graduated from Uni, I got a job relieving other pharmacists and then a full-time job in the city. While working that job, I worked two additional part-time pharmacy jobs. I worked these extra hours to save money for my wedding and our house. Now, my wife and I have been married for 32 years!

Today Stan is Executive Chairman at Star Pharmacy Group, a business model that has evolved over time.

“My business partner, Peter Gardiakos and I purchased a pharmacy in Rostrevor and then expanded our reach to Tranmere and Glenelg. We then purchased another one in Maleny, Queensland.

“In 2003, we got together with two other pharmacists to start the Star Pharmacy Alliance. In 2009, we restructured and renamed our business Star Pharmacy Group.” With further evolution, the brand continued to build and was renamed Star Discount Chemist in 2015.

“The difference between the Star Pharmacy Group model and traditional ownership is that group members have 100 collective years of experience to draw upon, which means the chance of failure is significantly reduced. New pharmacists start with the group to acclimatise to the industry, and, at a point, they will be ready to buy into the business. The benefit will be they will make more income, benefit from business-related tax concessions, and have the banks support their success. We ask them, ‘do you want more out of life and create more income – with a five-to-10-year outlook, in a safe environment?’”

Star Pharmacy Group now supports 58 pharmacies.

Eager to share his business acumen and experience, in 2003 Stan and his partners established SOL Results. “We decided we wanted to pass on the wisdom and knowledge we had attained throughout our life and successful careers. We now have the financial freedom to pursue our desire to empower others, teaching them the same tools and strategies we used to attain success and take our lives to the next level.”

Sol Results now hosts more than 20 events each year and has reached 1000s of people through their Next Level breakfasts, retreats, real estate program, and coaching services. “The business is set up as a non-profit and is our way of giving back to our community,” says Stan.

Stan can admit it’s not all been easy and has this advice for his younger self. “Don’t major in minor things. When I was younger, I used to stress over the littlest things. In my early 30s, I learned that high stress created problems and health issues.”

In 2010 Stan, Paul Madden and Peter Gardiakos started the Universal Charitable Fund (UCF) as a simple and cost-effective way to pay it forward. “Our goal is to provide 100 grants per year to local Australian charities who help people in need in Australia and overseas,” says Stan.

Stan firmly believes in hard work and the value of maintaining social connections. "My time at UniSA helped me develop a network of friends. Of course, as my family and business grew, I haven’t seen them as often, but I still make sure that I see my old friends socially once per year. Additionally, I see many of my old classmates at industry events and on Facebook.”

Stan’s also on the advisory board of Starlight Children’s Foundation, so how does he make time for himself?

“Before COVID-19, I discovered that, while I was taking Sundays away from work, the day was filled with church and family, but I wasn't taking time out for myself. This was taking a toll on my health and well-being. For the past two years, I’ve started to take Saturdays to myself to walk, read and meditate undisturbed. This time must be sectioned off, or it will be filled by others.”

And finally, what does Stan think is the key to success?

“Find out what inspires you and surround yourself with the right people. You alone can do it, but you can't do it alone. Inspire others to take the journey with you.”


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