Time to Prioritize

Edition: August 2010 - Vol 18 Number 08
Article#: 3514
Author: Repertoire

We can do anything, but we can’t do everything,” says Mark Steele, newly appointed president of Gulf South Medical Supply. “So we need to focus on priorities.” And that is what Gulf South management and sales reps did at the company’s recent annual sales meeting in Orlando, Fla.

A 15-year veteran of the company, Steele was vice president of marketing for PSS World Medical’s physician business prior to being named Gulf South president in April. (At the same time, Eddie Dienes, former senior vice president of sales for the physician business, was named president of that business.)

“This past year presented a lot of questions, with very few answers, specifically on healthcare reform,” said Steele, speaking with repertoire. “But regardless of the unknowns in the environment, I believe there is a clarity available to those who are close to the customer.” Of course, recognizing the customer’s issues is one thing; providing solutions is another, he added. Yet Gulf South is in a position to do just that, he believes.

Regulatory changes looming

Gulf South’s long-term-care customers face some big challenges in the year ahead, said Steele. Among them is implementation of MDS 3.0, a tool designed to implement standardized assessment of nursing-home care and to facilitate care management in nursing homes. Set for implementation in October 2010, MDS 3.0 is said to improve on MDS 2.0 by including items that rely on direct patient interviews, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Meanwhile, home health agencies are facing some big changes of their own, Steele added. The primary change is the implementation of OASIS-C, which is a set of outcomes and assessment data that home health agencies must collect in order to participate in the Medicare program.

Gulf South sales reps are not expected to be experts on MDS 3.0 or OASIS-C, said Steele. But they can help their customers be aware of the changes, as well as the fact that Gulf South offers solutions to help implement them. One such resource is Pathway Health Services, a consulting and management company with whom Gulf South has a partnership, he said.

The ‘why’ of Gulf South

Gulf South used the national meeting to focus on its own health as well.

“We will always be committed to efficient distribution, but the story doesn’t end there because the customers’ needs don’t end there,” Steele told repertoire. “We have the opportunity and offerings to do more. So we spent a lot of time at the national meeting talking about our ‘why,’ that is, our purpose, cause and beliefs. Specifically, we talked about helping our customers improve the care they provide.”

Clarifying the company’s purpose helps everyone at Gulf South know who they are and – equally valuable – who they are not, said Steele. “It helps everyone understand how they should act, what they should do, and what they shouldn’t do. And it helps all of us be more aware of the impact we can have on customers.” Passion and energy are great; but without a sense of purpose, they can be wasted, he said.

Four themes

Borrowing from PSS’s sales meeting last fall, Gulf South focused on four themes at its recent gathering: “Strengthen,” “Reach,” “Our Health” and “Lean.”

Strengthen. “We can’t be a strong company if our customers are weak,” said Steele. We have to be directly aligned with each other.” Gulf South has initiatives to help its caregivers improve their clinical and financial outcomes.

Reach. “‘Reach’ is our aggressive campaign to get new customers,” said Steele.

Our Health. For a company such as Gulf South, the single most important indicator of health is margin. “Our focus is on being a healthy company, so we can invest in [technologies and processes] to help the customer,” said Steele.

Lean. Gulf South “has done a magnificent job in reducing waste and focusing on what the customer truly values,” says Steele. “We’re trying to figure out how to take those ‘lean’ principles to [long-term-care customers.]”

The Gulf South meeting featured a presentation by Jim Craig, goalie of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. “There were a lot of messages in what he said,” said Steele. “By the end, it was, ‘What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?’ I think he hit home with a lot of people.”

Distinguished Cross Awards

Gulf South Medical Supply awarded its prestigious annual Distinguished Cross Awards, the highest honor awarded to company employees. The honorary dinner and awards ceremony was held at the company’s national sales meeting at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. Over 400 employees and spouses attended the event, in which six employees were awarded the Company’s highest honor. The award is named in honor of former Gulf South regional sales leader Galyn Cross, who lost his battle with cancer in 2001 at the age of 42.

Michael Klinker received the Distinguished Cross Award in the Sales Representative category.

Tad Peters from Gulf South Louisiana was presented the Distinguished Cross Award for top Sales Leader for the second year in a row, while Tom Byrnes from Gulf South Great Plains in Omaha, Neb., received the Distinguished Cross for top Operations Leader.

Mary Weeks, the Gulf South Northeast supervisor at the Customer Care Center in Jackson, Miss. was presented the Distinguished Cross Award for Field Support.

Marc Gaynes, a sales representative with Span America, was awarded the Distinguished Cross for top Manufacturer Representative.

The Distinguished Cross Award for Operations was presented to David Weedall, a Certified Picker at Gulf South’s Southern Pacific branch in Ontario, Calif.