Gilbert “Gib” and Joan R. Zilner, owners of Diamond Drugs Inc., earned the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award from Duquesne University recently.
The award is through the university’s Mylan School of Pharmacy and Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and is selected by the officers of the Pharmacy Alumni Association. It is the highest honor that the Pharmacy Alumni Association and the School of Pharmacy bestows on alumni.
The Zilners are the first husband and wife team to have received the recognition, also marking the first-ever dual recipient of the award.
The couple, according to a press release, purchased a retail pharmacy in downtown Indiana in 1970. It has since grown to become the nation’s largest correctional pharmacy services provider.
“The Zilners were selected based upon their significant contributions to advancing pharmacy practice in a very unique practice setting and promoting the highest standards of quality at their practice site,” said J. Douglas Bricker, dean of the Mylan School of Pharmacy. “They serve as role models for our young graduates who want to pursue the entrepreneurial spirit of pharmacy practice.”
Gib started his career while working in high school at a drug store in Arnold. After graduating from Duquesne, he accepted a job with Central Drug, later Thrift Drug. Then, he moved to Indiana, where he purchased Diamond Drugs and composed the first bid for a correctional facility, which, according to the press release, was the beginning of Diamond’s growth.
Joan started her career at Gatti Pharmacy, where she worked with her mother, Lena Raimondo, the first woman pharmacist in Indiana County. She also worked at the Indiana Hospital before purchasing Diamond Drugs.
The couple, who met while students at Duquesne, are passionate about what they do.
“It’s just what we always wanted to do and what we like,” Gib Zilner said. “It’s just a calling.”
Diamond Drugs Inc. is a family business, he said. Their son, Mark, is also an owner of the company.
“We graduated in the same class, the class of 1960 — now we’re husband and wife and (the award) was equal honors (to us). We both work in the business together,” Gib Zilner said.
Zilner said that the company continues to expand its business every year, through its business with nursing homes and correctional facilities as well as pharmacies.
“We’re actually in our infancy,” Gib Zilner said.
He said that the company will continue to grow and remain based in Indiana. Diamond Drugs Inc. is currently the third largest employer in Indiana.
PHOTO: Gilbert and Joan Zilner, owners of Diamond Drugs Inc., stood above the production floor of the company. (Tom Peel/Gazette)