When Art Mahar was just a young boy, he learned three very important steps to a philosophy passed down by his father that helped shape him to be the man he is today.
That man, and this year’s Belding Labor Day Celebration grand marshal, continues to welcome customers with a smile and open arms at Belding Apothecary in downtown Belding after 27 years of filling prescriptions for patients young and old as a pharmacist.
“I grew up in a small grocery store environment,” Mahar said. “My dad taught me, treat a customer the first time they come through the door like they are an honored guest. Twice through the door, they become a valued friend. Three times through the door — they’re family.”
Mahar has lived and worked by that philosophy for 35 years, 27 of those in Belding, and he has watched as his customers have grown from children to adults with families of their own.
“I’m now working with third generations of people in the same family,” he said. “I treat patients like I would want to be treated myself. That means calling the doctor or insurance company and doing whatever is necessary to get the medication to the patient.”
A 1966 graduate of St. Johns High School, Mahar joined the military in 1968 and became a pharmacy technician while serving in the Navy. From there, he graduated from college in 1977 and then worked at the Ionia County Memorial Hospital for eight years before coming to Belding in 1985.
Belding Apothecary Pharmacy Technician Nancy Clark, who has worked with Mahar for 23 years, said it came as no surprise to see that he was selected as this year’s Belding Labor Day Celebration grand marshal.
“Art is a wonderful guy,” Clark said. “Everyone who comes in here loves Art and they always want to talk to him.”
Clark said it is Mahar’s dedication to his patients that makes him stand out from others in the pharmacy profession.
“He always treats everybody equally,” she said. “He’s willing to go out at night or during holidays and get things for patients when they may have forgotten something or need something at the hospital.”
For Mahar, his selection as grand marshal came by surprise.
“At first, it was just a shock,” he said. “From a simple standpoint I just wondered, where did that come from?”
But Mahar said he is greatly appreciative of his selection and considers it a “wonderful honor.”
“It’s an honor and I’m humbled to be put in the same class as previous grand marshals,” he said. “But I’m just doing my job like a lot of other people in this community do their jobs.”
Mahar will be riding in the Labor Day Homecoming Parade at 11 am. Monday accompanied by his wife of 38 years, Deb.
The two have lived in Belding for 27 years and have raised three children, all graduates of Belding High School.