Bellwether League, Inc.Supply chain ‘hall of fame’ fetes 9 leaders
Bellwether League Inc. honors the past to influence the future

SCHAUMBURG, IL (November 1, 2008) – During an elegant and emotionally charged ceremony, Bellwether League Inc. inducted the first nine honorees into its healthcare supply chain “hall of fame,” on Tuesday, October 28, at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel.

They are the late Dean S. Ammer, Ph.D., Lee C. Boergadine, Gene D. Burton, Charles E. Housley, Thomas W. Kelly, William J. McFaul, Tom Pirelli, Donald J. Siegle and Alex J. Vallas. Each recipient’s bellwether profile can be found on Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site at www.bellwetherleague.org.

Jamie Kowalski, chairman of the Schaumburg, IL-based organization, briefly introduced each Inductee of the Class of 2008 with reverence and thoughtful reflection befitting their bellwether status as industry innovators, leaders and pioneers.

Before a standing ovation, Christine Ammer, wife of the late Dean S. Ammer, Ph.D., expressed her pleasure at meeting people who knew her husband and her gratitude for his being so honored by the industry. Kowalski noted he still possesses Ammer’s first edition materials management book, something also echoed by many in the audience who nodded their heads in affirmation.

Lee C. Boergadine reflected on his career “from Peoria to here,” as characterized by Kowalski. He called his induction into Bellwether League “one of the most exciting and humbling evenings of my life, second only to the evening my wife Marty said ‘I do.’”

Boergadine then traced his professional and personal development as influenced by five of his fellow inductees. “There’s no more eloquent way to demonstrate what it is to be a bellwether than to be a young man in Central Illinois and have personal contact with my fellow honorees,” he concluded. “Thank you all for the part you played in my life.”

Kowalski recalled meeting with Burton for advice and how Burton gave him four-to-five hours of his time as a demonstration of Burton’s commitment to the profession.

The retired Burton expressed appreciation for being able to see people he hasn’t seen in years, thanked Bellwether League and his former employers and employees during his career, and capped his brief comments by thanking his wife of 63 years who was seated in the audience, next to Suzan Logan, who leads his consulting firm Gene Burton & Associates Inc.

Housley was unable to attend the ceremony, so Bellwether League Executive Director Rick Dana Barlow accepted the award on his behalf and read a brief personal statement from Housley where he called his induction a “prestigious honor,” one of the most meaningful in his career.

Kelly called it a “thrill” to receive Bellwether League’s award and a “capstone” to his career. “When I was a young buck getting started at GE, [a manager] told me there were four things you need for success: A good education (Kelly highlighted his Jesuit school in New York), work hard (he told audience members to ask his wife Mary in attendance about the dinners and parent-teacher conferences he missed), mentors (he cited two, his boss at Massachusetts General Hospital Randy McDonald and Bellwether League Board Member Tom Hughes) and you have to be lucky.”

McFaul was unable to attend the ceremony, so Barlow accepted the award for him and read a personal statement by him. McFaul noted that supply chain management’s accomplishments “weren’t due to better prices or lower inventory. Instead, they were attributable to the never-ending struggle to train and educate others that healthcare quality cannot improve nor can expenses be lowered without change.

“While the nation is focusing on insurance reform and this aspect of the industry is essential, unless quality and expense issues are addressed, insurance reform will merely shift unacceptable cost from one source to another,” he continued.

After crediting Bellwether League for highlighting supply chain achievements, McFaul expressed his honor for “having had the ability to work so closely with all of you – individuals who openly shared their knowledge and insights with the industry at large.”

Pirelli, who admitted being out of healthcare for 12 years, said he “dreaded” attending Bellwether League’s Induction Dinner because he “didn’t want to see how old we’ve become.”

Pirelli then turned serious when he indicated how much of a pleasure it was to work with all of those attending the ceremony during his 21-year healthcare career that spanned American Hospital Supply and launching the venerable Enterprise Systems Inc., a company that arguably brought personal computing to materials management and accelerated IT adoption and implementation in the industry.

Donald J. Siegle, who was recovering from major surgery was unable to attend, but Ronald Miller, president of Amerinet Central, accepted the award on his behalf.

Miller hailed Siegle for spending a lifetime in group purchasing and supply chain management, from his “humble beginnings” in the steel industry to his retirement in 1997 from a group purchasing organization, Amerinet Central’s forerunner Hospital Shared Services of Western Pennsylvania.

“Don gave more to supply chain management and group purchasing than he could ever have received, but he wouldn’t have it any other way,” Miller said.

Kowalski characterized Vallas as a “class act” who consistently asked, “‘is there a better way to do this?’”

Vallas expressed appreciation for being included in the first class of Bellwether League inductees, reflected on his 36-year career in supply chain management and then challenged attendees and supply chain management professionals alike to improve healthcare.

Sponsoring professionalism

Bellwether League Board Member John Gaida then presented the organization’s five Founding Sponsors – Hospira, Kimberly-Clark Health Care, MedAssets, Owens & Minor and Premier Purchasing Partners – with awards for their support.

Peter D. Baker, vice president and general manager, Hospira’s Commercial Service Operations, Hospira, accepted Bellwether League’s glass statue on his company’s behalf.

Keith Kuchta, vice president, North American Supplies at Kimberly-Clark Health Care, represented his company.

Rand Ballard, executive vice president and COO, MedAssets, and president, MedAssets Supply Chain Systems, accepted for his company

Jamie C. Kowalski, vice president, business development, Owens & Minor, represented his firm, and Gaida accepted on behalf of Premier Purchasing Partners whose executives were participating in a strategic summit.

Honest, humble beginnings

As part of his opening remarks, Kowalski recalled Bellwether League’s conception during a telephone call with Barlow in the early spring of 2007, something that started as a conversational aside and blossomed rather quickly into an actionable project. The two founders recruited a Board of Directors from various segments of the industry to help forge the organization, incorporate it and file for not-for-profit tax status, along with evaluating and choosing the first nine honorees to recognize.

Kowalski marveled at reconnecting with people who, during the course of his more-than-35-year career, he “looked up to, learned from, tried to emulate; colleagues, competitors and collaborators, even former clients.” He also complimented Bellwether League’s Board of Directors as “successful, pioneering contributors in their own right,” emphasizing that none is eligible to be inducted for the first three years of Bellwether League’s existence or their seat on the Board, whichever was the longest time, to demonstrate ethics and integrity to earn the industry’s respect.

Barlow, during his introductory remarks, explained that they launched Bellwether League to honor the “people that power the supply chain,” which “represents an integral part of the foundation of our healthcare system – and one that has gone largely unacknowledged and unrecognized until now.”
Barlow further noted that Bellwether League was created to promote and generate mentors to help the supply chain progress long-term.

About Bellwether League Inc.

Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Inc. seeks to identify and honor individuals who have demonstrated significant leadership in and influence on and contributions to the healthcare supply chain, including professionals from hospitals, non-acute healthcare providers, manufacturers and distributors of healthcare products, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms and educational institutions.

Bellwether League Inc. plans to recognize its second group of honorees in April 2009 and honor them at a recognition dinner in Chicago in early October, a schedule that will continue annually.

Bellwether League Inc. selects individuals that meet its criteria to be publicly recognized and recorded in print and online media for their contributions in advancing and improving all segments of the healthcare supply chain. The criteria include ethics, innovation, integrity, leadership, longevity, mentoring, reputation, speaking, teaching, writing and volunteering.

The Board of Directors of Bellwether League Inc. comprises a veteran group of industry advocates who have volunteered their time and expertise to create and continually develop the organization and its ongoing educational activities. The Board includes:

For more information, to become a corporate or individual sponsor or to nominate honoree candidates visit Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site at www.bellwetherleague.org. Additional photos available on request and online.