Year In Review

Edition: December 2004 - Vol 12 Number 12
Article#: 2010
Author: Repertoire

“Everybody knew that if we were getting out of whack and it didn’t look like enough attention was being paid to the small and mid-sized distributors, George would pull them back.”

– Bill Bartoccini, speaking of 2004

Medical Distribution Hall of Fame inductee

George Ransdell, founder of Ransdell Surgical, Louisville, Ky.

“Some [major] companies refuse to private-label, and that’s honorable. But I can’t afford not to. I don’t have the marketing horses that a Novation or Gulf South has.”

– Executive with a small manufacturer

“Branded manufacturers recognize that private labeling is part of the marketplace, and that if customers want it, they’ll get it somewhere. But that’s not the same [for distributors] as cannibalizing your entire portfolio.”

– Chris McFadden, Goldman Sachs, talking about the balance distributors must maintain between private labeling and maintaining strong relationships with their branded manufacturers

“It’s a show dedicated to our customers. How can it not be a success?”

– Holly Burke, trade show coordinator, Mohawk Hospital Equipment, Utica, N.Y.,

speaking about Mohawk’s annual customer Expo

“Value people who want to see you succeed, and reciprocate by becoming an advocate for their success.”

– John O’Malley, president, Strategic Visions Inc., Birmingham, Ala.

“There’s a joke that says that the good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.”

– Lisa Clowers, VP of supply chain processes and technology, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Reston, Va.

“If reverse auctions are carried out as they are supposed to, then all the work you have done, all the relationships, go out the window. You’re purely at the mercy of that auction process.”

– Manufacturer commenting on

reverse auctions conducted by GPOs

“You use the reverse auction to set your price. You can still have a strategic relationship, a very creative relationship. You can still talk about how you’re going to move market share.”

– Bob Hamon, senior VP in charge of group purchasing,

Premier Inc., Charlotte, N.C.

“I think the whole dot-com phenomenon really did

distributors a favor by getting them fired up. It awakened a sleeping giant.”

– Danny Adams,


Nashville, Tenn.

“We aren’t after customer satisfaction; we want customer enthusiasm.”

– Roger Dow, senior VP of global and field sales for Marriott,

speaking at the HIDA Executive Conference

“I hear people say, ‘You can’t do that’ or ‘Nobody’s ever done that.’ Well, what difference does it make? If it’s a benefit to the customer, why not do it?”

– Gary Reeve, owner,


St. Louis, Mo.

“It’s important to create an environment people enjoy coming to every day. And you do that by keeping your door open,

having conversations with people and rolling up your sleeves.”

– Mike Haste,

general manager,

Holladay Surgical,

Winston-Salem, N.C.

“To be successful in POL sales – to make the initial sale and lock in the reagent business – you’ve got to uncover opportunities based on clinical disease management needs, know how to answer customer questions about CLIA and reimbursement, and commit to supporting that customer’s needs for the next five years.”

– Sheila Dunn, president, Quality America Inc., Asheville, N.C


“We have to institute a team-based approach, and all reps have to be in synch with what’s going on, and with what the IDN wants to accomplish. I can’t have one rep going one way, and another going another way.”

– Dave Myers, VP of sales and marketing,

Seneca Medical, Tiffin, Ohio,

commenting on the need for sales reps

to work in teams to service large IDNs

“To quote one of our nurses, ‘The utopia of materials management is that I go to my supply room, and the supply is there.’ Whether it comes from 20 miles away or 200 really doesn’t make a difference to them, nor should it.”

– Mel Meck, VP of materials management, AtlantiCare,

Atlantic City, N.J.

“Over the years, I was amazed at how John would strike up a conversation with anyone, whether standing in line in an airport, riding in a cab or waiting for an appointment in a doctor’s office. He loved to talk, and he loved people. It was as though he had something in common with each and every one of them. That’s probably why he was so successful. John believed that all sales were personal.”

– Bob Brigham, manufacturer’s rep,

Athol, Mass., speaking about John Lupino,

former national sales manager

for Burton Medical Products,

who died in March 2004

“Life sucks when you’re a small guy fighting a big guy.”

– Observer,

commenting on the fate

of small manufacturers

in a GPO-dominated market

“The more you become like an employee of the customer, the more difficult it is for someone else to come in and say, ‘We want your business, we’ll do everything they’re doing.’ So you have to look for means that are out of the ordinary.”

– Jim Wheeler, sales rep,

Seneca Medical,

Tiffin, Ohio

“There are two fundamental ways to grow your business. You can attract new clients, but that’s a painfully long process. Or you can look at your existing client base, learn more about their practice and give them more opportunities to do more business with you.”

– Scott Wakser, president,

DiaMed Inc., Canton, Ohio

“I may be a patient some day, so I’m very picky about the

products I sell.”

– Scott Graham, owner,

MBI X-Ray and Medical Supply,

Las Vegas

“We try to give the small nursing homes the same feeling of importance as the big guys do the large nursing homes. That’s how we built our business – taking it to the folks.”

– Larry Keefer, co-owner,

Gericare Medical Supply,

Monroeville, Ala.

“I feel that personally, I’m on my A game, even though I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years.”

– Rusty Renfroe,

sales manager,

McKesson Medical-Surgical,

Richmond, Va.

“We will be as technically savvy as we need to be, but we’ll never stop being high touch.”

– Jorge de Cespedes,

president, Pharmed Group,


“‘You get these reps that come in at the end of the year thinking they’re doing a great job,’ griped one sales manager…They point to the quality of their monthly reports and their responsiveness to e-mail and I’m thinking, ‘That’s nice and all, but did you make plan?’”

– Mike Farragher,

director of marketing, LifeSign,

Somerset, N.J.

“I learned that not only could I teach kids how to play soccer, but I could teach them a bit of class, too.”

– Nick Iadanza,

sales rep, Caligor,

Long Island, N.Y.

“There’s always someone else who can sell [products] more cheaply on an invoice basis. We emphasize the idea of ‘total delivered cost.’ Were we friendly on the phone? Were we price-competitive? Did we deliver the order when we said we would? Did we follow up? If there was a problem, did we take care of it? Were we a resource for the customer as opposed to being the guy selling them the [product], and then turning our back and going to the next customer?”

– Miles Theeman, executive VP and COO,

Affiliated Healthcare Systems,

Bangor, Maine

“Our goal for the past 20 years has been to get companies like Medtronic to know what specialty distribution is.”

– Butch Lawhon,

Products for Surgery, Forest Hill, Texas

“Because of consolidation among distributors, we’re back to where we were in 1984. If you’re a [national long-term care chain], there’s a solution. But if you’re a small customer, there isn’t. And that’s the reason we got back into the business.”

– Guy Edwards, president,

First Choice Medical Supply, Jackson, Miss.

“My father always taught me that you can’t sell out of an empty wagon. You can’t move out power tables if you only have one in stock.”

– Victor Amat III, VP,

American Medical Supplies and Equipment,


“If you’ve been around customers as long as I have, you just pick up the knack of how to read them.”

– Steve Blomgren, driver,

Midland Medical, Lincoln, Neb.

“We don’t think GPOs need to close their doors. But they need to scale back to their original charge of aggregating volume for prices.”

– Mark Leahey, executive director,

Medical Device Manufacturers Association,

Washington, D.C.

“You don’t want to leave your customers stranded. When I say I’ll get back to someone, I do it in a timely manner.”

– Denise Hassler

Caligor, a division of Henry Schein

Winner of the 2004 Distributor Excellence in Sales Award

“Salespeople can see the connection between, ‘If I learn more I’ll be more effective, I’ll make more money and my customers will be happier’”

– Dan Larkin,

former VP of sales development,

McKesson Medical Surgical,

Richmond , Va.

“We have to continue to find ways to meet the needs of the citizens of Louisiana. Sick people aren’t going to go away because we have financial problems.”

– Joy Barnett, director of administrative and support services,

LSU Health Science Center Health Care Services Division,

New Orleans

“This is a people business. You can have the best degrees and sales techniques, but if you’re not likable, your

customers aren’t going to look forward to seeing you week after week.”

– Nancy Deswyesn


“When you take care of the little things, the big things tend to fall in place. By ‘little things’ I mean making sure [your troops] are taken care of, their families are taken care of, they’re fed. It’s making sure that if they need medical attention, they get it; and if they have questions, you help them find the answers.”

– Mike Lonnemann

Welch Allyn

It can be intimidating for our sales force to be part of a $50 billion company.

But our leadership team has successfully managed to tell our story internally and externally to the market.”

– Mike Orscheln,

VP and general manager of Cardinal Health’s

ambulatory care business

It was the salespeople who controlled the market – not management – in terms of which products were to be pushed in the hospital. That was an easy sell.”

– Bill McKnight,

founder of Medical Products Sales magazine and Hall of Fame inductee

I screamed and yelled holy hell.”

– Harold Jackson, VP, Buffalo Supply, Lafayette, Colo., upon learning that Buffalo would not receive a five-year Federal Supply Schedule. (The government overturned its decision nine months later.)

“Craig had a unique presence about him.

People wanted to be loyal to him. There are some people to whom people migrate. He was a leader. People liked working with him and for him. He was an exceptionally compassionate human being.”

– Mike McCauley, PSS sales rep,

speaking about Craig Christopher (right), former owner of Taylor Surgical Supply, who died in February 2004

“It might sound canned, but you’ll never be eulogized at your funeral for being caught up on paperwork. Think about that the next time you skip the family chat and take your dinner to your home office for a jump-start on the evening’s work.”

– Mike Farragher, director of marketing, LifeSign, Somerset, N.J.

“How can I support myself selling $3.50 alcohol


– Doug Harper, former president of PSS, and current president, medical sales, The Brewer Co., Menomonee Falls, Wis., commenting on his very first medical product sale many years ago

“One of the biggest

opportunities we see is to grow this company with a regional company feel, which represents the greatness of our industry – a greatness that can be lost when a company gets too big.”

– Patrick Carpenter, co-owner,

Medical Outfitters, Lenexa, Kan.

“Dual and multi-source

contracts diminish a smaller group’s ability to move meaningful volumes

of business.”

– John Strong, president

and CEO of Consorta,

Schaumburg, Ill.

“Though it doesn’t affect us drastically,

it’s one more thing to make distribution a little bit less efficient.”

– Parker Bigley, VP of sales,

The Palm Tree Group, Houston,

commenting on Johnson & Johnson’s mandate that distributors buy its products only from the manufacturer

“[Leaders] show respect all around – not only to their bosses, but also to their peers, and particularly to those over whom they have authority.”

– John Hutton, author,

“Leadership Has Many Faces”

(April 2004 Repertoire)

“Our purpose is to prevent women from getting stopped at the lowest levels, and to give them a support system, so they will stay in the industry. A lot of great women come and go.”

– Cindy Juhas, president,

Hospital Associates, Anaheim, Calif.,

speaking about Professional Women in Healthcare

“Those dealer trade shows that really structure the event to allow a manufacturer

adequate time to present

to their sales force and

management teams are great.

In my personal opinion, somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes is about right. I have attended a few meetings where we were on five-minute rotations! Can you imagine trying to give anyone any good information or training in five minutes? Heck, it took me a day to read ‘The One Minute Manager.’”

– Dick Moorman, VP of sales, medical products, Midmark Corp., Versailles, Ohio

“CEOs and COOs are really looking at the bigger picture and saying, ‘I need to take my total costs down.’

But they’re also telling the materials manager, ‘Continue to work on price.’ So there are two pressure points.”

– Craig Smith,

president and COO,

Owens & Minor, Glen Allen, Va.

“It is easier for a rep to maintain the status quo [as] the old order taker than it is to take the initiative, to get to know the needs and operations of each of his or her customers, and then present solutions to problems they might identify. Customers appreciate proactive interaction.”

– Scot Scurlock, VP of group purchasing and shared services, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Washington, D.C.