THIS STATEN ISLANDER HAS SPENT HIS PROFESSIONAL LIFE SERVING HIS COMMUNITY, AND SEES A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THE BOROUGH
BY JENNIFER VIKSE • PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY
For Boris Natenzon, failure is not an option. And success means not only being an entrepreneur, pharmacist, philanthropist, and father, but making a consistent commitment to the community that welcomed him as a child. Born in Russia, Natenzon was brought to the United States when he was 3, and was raised in Brooklyn. His father opened an auto repair shop, and Natenzon started working there when he was just 8. When he was a senior in high school, his family moved to Staten Island, where Natenzon graduated from Susan E. Wagner High School. While working part time in an auto parts store that year, a coworker suggested he look into a career in pharmaceuticals. As Natenzon considered that advice, he began to see the parallels between helping people with the right car parts and helping them with the right medications.
“A pharmacy is similar in a way filling that order, that part, that prescription,” he said.
So, Natenzon set out on a course that would allow him to do just that. He enrolled at Long Island University, where he got into the school’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy. While in school, he interned at a small Staten Island mom and pop store called Village Medics. “I started working there, doing stock, deliveries, whatever needed to be done,” he said. While at LIU, he also met his future wife, Angela.
In 1999, after graduating with a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy and receiving his pharmacist’s license, he began working for CVS at its first Manhattan store. As the company acquired more stores around the area, Natenzon was transferred from location to location, helping new stores get established.
But his experience the satisfaction he got from both working at his father’s shop and helping people at Village Medics tugged at him.
“I always wanted to open my own business. My father had his own business. I was always around that environment,” Natenzon explained. So, he did some research and took the plunge. In 2002, he and his wife opened their first Nate’s Pharmacy.
The business grew to six locations (four on Staten Island, one in Brooklyn, and one in Manhattan) and the name became synonymous with outstanding customer service and care.
“It was great. I loved every minute every second of it. I still do,” he said. “We’d see kids growing, the parents and grandparents. We’d take care of the whole family.”
But by 2017, the retail pharmacy business had changed, and Natenzon found himself spending less time connecting with people and more time dealing with regulatory and insurance issues.
“We decided that the retail market was closing in,” he explained, “and it was getting tough to do that business. I lost interest; it wasn’t that healthcare feel for me anymore.” With that, Natenzon sold Nate’s to CVS, and decided to concentrate on specialty healthcare. He transitioned to Enexia Specialty, a pharmacy that focuses on critical and specialty care for both people and pets. As president and CEO of the company, headquartered in Staten Island on Port Richmond Avenue, he runs a specialty compounding laboratory and an orthotics and prosthetics office. Enexia Specialty now has locations in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
“I just love helping people get healthier,” he said. “We refocused our company on compounding, custom made products for patients and pets.” More specifically, Enexia focuses on medication therapy management.
“It’s more of a focus on the patients and their health,” said Natenzon. “We go the extra mile, make sure they know how to do the injection, get them a nurse if they need it. The store takes care of high profile cases oncology, transplants, hepatitis where there is a serious need for hands on healthcare.”
In addition, Natenzon is committed to community wellness. He works with a number of groups, including Tackling Youth Substance Abuse, the Staten Island Performing Provider System, and the borough president’s office to combat the opioid epidemic. His company was the Island’s first to dispense naloxone (a drug that, if given quickly enough, can reverse the effects of an overdose) in a pilot program.
Natenzon is also a board member and vice chair of the Staten Island University Hospital Foundation, for which he raises funds for critically needed equipment.
“All three of my kids were born there,” he said. “Health is number one. There’s nothing more important. The only way to help is to give back make sure they can get the equipment they need. The hospital is the epicenter of Staten Island. There’s nothing more important than that hospital.”
In 2000, he was named the Drug Topics Pharmacist of the Year, and in 2011 and 2013 won the Staten Island Community Health Hero Award. He’s also been honored by the Staten Island Jewish Community Center and is a board member of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, as well as a proctor for the State Board of Pharmacy exam.
Natenzon fund raises for other Staten Island groups, too, though he and his family now live in Mon mouth County, New Jersey He has three children, ages 17, 15, and 12.
“I try to do the best I can. Failure is not an option,” Natenzon said. “There’s a need for me to be at these places. My input, my experiences this is the community that got me to the place I’m at now, and this is a way to repay it.”
In addition to the community at large, Natenzon credits his partner, Bernard Glezerman, and his employees some of them have been with them for 15 years with Enexia’s success. (“They have helped tremendously to get us to this point.”)
While there might be other places to do good deeds, the executive is still committed to Staten Island. “I just feel connected to it. I grew up here…worked here, I know the people,” he said. “How do you repay a community that helped you and your family grow and put food on the table? All of these events, functions that we do, it’s a way for me to give back.”
Enexia Specialty / Locations in Brooklyn and Staten Island
866.936.3942 / enexiaspecialty.com