Excellence in Sales: Gary Worthington
Edition: November 2012 - Vol 20 Number 11
As a student at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Gary Worthington had plans to be a schoolteacher. But when his stepfather became ill, those plans changed. Instead, Worthington became a professional recruiter for the Boy Scouts of America, recruiting volunteers to serve as Scout leaders in Detroit’s inner city.
“I had always wanted to work with kids anyway,” says Worthington, western regional manager for Dukal Corp. and a runner-up for this year’s Repertoire/HIDA Excellence in Sales Award for a manufacturer. And the experience prepared him for what would happen next, that is, when Johnson & Johnson tapped him to become a territory manager in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio for its Graham Medical Supply business. (J&J later sold Graham to Little Rapids Corp., which had founded a medical disposables division called Baycare Disposables.)
“I figured if I could convince inner city people to be in the Boy Scouts, I could sell anything,” says Worthington.
Not long after that, he was promoted to regional manager, and later, moved to California to open up Graham’s business in the western part of the country. “I’ve been here 36 years,” says Worthington, who today lives near Sacramento, in nearby Cameron Park.
Worthington comments on the changes that have taken place in the industry during his almost 40 years in medical sales. One of the most significant is consolidation among distributors. “When I opened up the West for Graham, there were probably 250 distributors here,” he says. Today, only a fraction of them are still in business. And those remaining face some formidable challenges, such as group purchasing organizations and contract selling. They find that their customers – particularly physicians – are facing huge challenges as well, including rising overhead costs and overwhelming patient loads.
But a few things haven’t changed. For example, successful reps like people, and people still buy from people, he says. “People are people, wherever you go,” he adds. Something else hasn’t changed: “You have to believe in the product you’re selling.”
In the end, success in sales is pretty simple, says Worthington. “The single most important ingredient is to be dependable and truthful. You have to go back to basics, no matter what you’re doing.”
“As a distributor, I have worked with Gary over the years and he has made a lasting impression with his integrity, knowledge, inviting personality and positive enthusiasm for our industry,” says Patrick Meadows, chief operations officer, Eco Sound Medical Services, Tracy, Calif. “I have yet to have a purchasing manager that didn’t gain knowledge, a better understanding of our industry and professional growth, once they were introduced and began working with Mr. Worthington.”
“I first met Gary when we hired him away from the Boy Scouts of America,” says Jack Ferguson Sr., owner, Sentry Surgical Supply. Ferguson was Graham’s national sales manager prior to founding Sentry with his wife in 1982. “I immediately found him to be a natural for sales. He is outgoing, wears well with everybody, and over the years has become a very polished sales rep. I consider Gary a very good friend, and I am sure a lot of people in this industry will say the same thing.”
Says Yates Farris, vice president, primary care markets, IMCO, of Worthington: “Forty-year veteran. King of relationships. Continuous success (and helps make everyone surrounding him successful). Loves his customers and his customers love him. Possesses total empathy. Mentor to many.”
Adds Anie Beaulieu, purchasing/operations manager for Sterling Medical Products, Irvine, Calif., “I can only describe Gary as an awesome rep. He knows everybody pretty much in the building by name, and says hello to each one of them. He brings positive energy to us and always has suggestions for products Dukal has.
“Do I need to say more? Just love the guy.”