Max Goodloe, founder of General Medical, pioneered the concept of a national distribution company with a local sales and warehousing presence, so that customers anywhere in the country could rely on next-day service. He built the company through a string of acquisitions that presaged similar strategies by others in the following years – including that of one of Goodloe’s employees, Pat Kelly, who later founded PSS in Jacksonville, Fla.
At its peak, General Medical was the No. 1 physician supplier in the country, and the second hospital supplier behind American Hospital Supply. It reached $400 million in sales, employed 1,500 people, and had 80 distinct profit centers, including a number of manufacturing companies. He took the company public on the over-the-counter exchange in 1967; in 1969, the company became listed on the New York Stock Exchange. At the time, he was still personally writing more business than anyone else in the company.
In addition to buying distributors to achieve his vision of making General Medical a national company, he also acquired several manufacturing operations.
But Goodloe was slow to computerize, hard-pressed to find first-class talent to run the far-flung branches, and frustrated in his attempts to establish a strong presence on the West Coast. He sold the company to Whittaker Corp. in 1980. General Medical, which had employed five sales reps in 1960, had more than 500 reps in the field at the time of the sale. Goodloe died in 1996.