Destination: Discovery

Edition: March 2002 - Vol 10 Number 03
Article#: 1189
Author: Repertoire

The core of the meeting was a reverse vendor fair that allowed vendors to rotate through the members' tables to discuss business strategy and direction. ''While product is certainly an important part of this event,'' said Mike Spina, managing director of ABCO, ''the focus is on putting business partners together so they can think strategically about how to grow their businesses.''

''We also strive to ensure that both members and vendors have numerous informative opportunities at the conference,'' said Spina. ''It is always our goal to make sure our members leave the conference with a better understanding of the tools with which ABCO provides them, such as catalogs, electronic ordering tools, new additions to the NDC warehouse and customized brochures.''

Re-emergence of Independents
In his kickoff speech, industry expert Ron Stephenson emphasized the potential to use Sales Support Marketing to really enhance independent distributor performance. Stephenson, Professor of Marketing at Indiana University, has been an active consultant in the medical products distribution industry since the late 1960's. He stated that he has always argued that independent distributors should be members of and active participants in the programs of Voluntary Associations such as ABCO. ''Independent distributors have benefited enormously from stronger buying and price negotiation, world/wide sourcing, efficient re-distribution and the availability of sophisticated management services. Member distributors, have not, however, taken adequate advantage of opportunities to enhance the performance of their sales organizations by making extensive use of marketing tools designed to support and enhance the performance of sales organizations.'' He challenged ABCO members to: ''Take more extensive advantage of existing ABCO/NDC marketing programs, push for expansion of available marketing programs and develop sales support marketing capability of your own.''

Stephenson stated that ''virtually all marketing in our industry should be designed to directly support and enhance the efforts of the sales organizations.'' When this is done well, he argued that several important benefits can result: ''Increased gross margin, higher revenue growth rates, faster development of the performance of new sales personnel, better and faster penetration of new customers, enhanced sales personnel focus on firms' product/brand strategies and larger order sizes resulting in reduced operating expenses and higher market share.''

Conference Highlights:
• Introduced at the Conference was the new ABCO 2002-2003 Medical Products & Equipment Catalog. Over 616 pages of products are divided into 11 sections: Admissions, Patient Care, Diagnostics, Laboratory, X-Ray, Physical Therapy/Orthopedics, Wound Care, Surgery, Infection Control, Gloves, and Furniture/Equipment. Over 33,000 total catalogs were printed and all ABCO members were able to customize the front cover with their identity. This new catalog was also available to members on CD-Rom.
• Each year, Repertoire Magazine selects from a list of nominees individuals that will be inducted into the Medical Distribution Hall of Fame. This year Repertoire's Publisher, Chris Kelly, was on hand to announce that ABCO's key note speaker, Ron Stephenson was one of the inductees. The announcement was made during the Awards Ceremony. ''It was indeed an honor to have Ron recognized at the Conference,'' said Jim Stover, NDC's president and CEO. ''Ron has spent over 30 years educating and consulting in the health care distribution industry and he certainly deserved it.''
• The Conference concluded on Friday afternoon with a golf outing at the Our Lucaya Reef Course. Forty-eight manufacturer and distributor executives formed twelve teams to compete in a best ball team scramble. The following team won first place:
Don Lovre - Beckman Coulter
Suzanne Silvester - Melton Company
• Scott Alford - Invacare Corp.
Al Chamberlain - Shared Service Systems

• A sky diving videotape of Jim Stover, President & CEO of NDC, Inc. was shown at the opening conference to set the tone for the meeting. ''The Sky's the Limit'' said Mike Spina, inspiring his members to take that leap of faith as he urged everyone to ''make sure 2002 is the year of the independent distributor!''
• Next year, ABCO will be celebrating it's 50th Anniversary with a special Executive Conference planned to commemorate the event.

ABCO Award Winners

ABCO Member of the Year• Shared Service Systems, Inc.
ABCO Vendor of the Year• Chester Laboratories, Inc.
ABCO Rookie of the Year• Martin Surgical Supply
Million Dollar Club (members)• Professional Hospital Supply
• Caligor Physicians & Hospital Supply
• Seneca Medical,Inc.
• Claflin Company
• Kreisers, Inc.
Million Dollar Club (vendors)• 3M Health Care
• Banta Healthcare Group
• BD
• Chester Laboratories, Inc.
• Hypoguard
• Johnson & Johnson
• Metrex
• NutraMax
• Professional Disposables, Inc.
• Quidel Corporation
• Sempermed, USA
• Spacelabs Medical
• Tillotson Healthcare Corporation
• Welch Allyn