SCHAUMBURG, IL (February 24, 2012) – Sadly and with sorrow, Bellwether League Inc. announces the death of Bellwether Class of 2009’s William M. McKnight Jr.
McKnight’s family reported that he died peacefully in Tucson, AZ, on Wednesday, February 8. He was 83.
A consummate salesman at heart, McKnight originally intended to pursue a career in medicine after college but ultimately chose the business side of healthcare. He parlayed his experience working in several hospitals to a sales position for American Hospital Supply Corp. in the San Diego/Las Vegas metropolitan areas where he learned how distributor sales representatives moved market share.
From there McKnight joined Hospital Management magazine, published by Crain Communications, where he sold advertising out of the New York office. In 1964, Crain promoted him to vice president of sales and McKnight moved back to Chicago.
With his father and another partner, McKnight invested in a private, tri-facility nursing home chain serving residents of Chicago’s tony North Shore.
But McKnight still enjoyed publishing so with about $40,000 he launched McKnight Medical Communications in 1969, debuting Medical Products Salesman magazine the next year to target who he believed influenced buying patterns. A few years later MPS became the official magazine of the American Surgical Trade Association, now known as the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA).
After MPS, McKnight published three other publications, two of which remain in circulation today – Purchasing Administration, which now is Healthcare Purchasing News; and Today’s Nursing Home, which now is McKnight’s Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living.
McKnight sold his company to Medical Economics Co. in 1986, but remained at the helm for another three years before retiring from the publishing business. During that time he also launched the Healthcare Manufacturers Marketing Council where he continued for seven years.
McKnight was inducted into Bellwether League Inc.’s healthcare supply chain leaders hall of fame in 2009, and he was inducted into the Medical Distribution Hall of Fame by Repertoire Magazine in 2004.
“When we launched Bellwether League Inc. in 2007 there was never any question in my mind whether Bill would be inducted,” said Rick Dana Barlow, Bellwether League Inc. co-founder and executive director. “The only question was when. Clearly, Bill brought healthcare supply chain management into prominence as an important business function and a key part of healthcare delivery. Nearly four decades ago he paved the way.
“Bill defined purchasing for a generation of healthcare professionals,” Barlow continued. “Dean Ammer, Ph.D., [Bellwether Class of 2008] and Paul Farrell, C.P.M., certainly educated purchasing professionals for decades with their widely used textbooks and magazines on the economics, mechanics, operations and science of purchasing, but Bill brought the business of purchasing to the masses. His informational newsmagazine, which continues to thrive today as many others have struggled and ceased publication, opened a valuable market niche that brought recognition and respect to an important profession.”
Veteran industry editor, journalist and observer Mark Thill, who McKnight hired to run then-named Hospital Purchasing News in 1985, hold fond memories of working with him.
“When I think of Bill, three things come to mind,” Thill said. “First, he was adept at recognizing need and opportunity in the market, and energetic enough to pursue solutions. That’s why and how he created four magazines, two trade shows [for supply chain and long-term care audiences] and, after he sold his company, the Healthcare Manufacturers Marketing Council (now Healthcare Manufacturers Management Council).
Second, he was self-effacing. I never, ever saw him pull rank on anyone. He didn’t have to. He earned respect through kindness, and he was always eager to delegate responsibilities to those whom he considered more qualified at certain things than he. And third, he was very funny. When you spent time with him, you’d be laughing.”
Thill is president of Thill Communications where he serves as editor of Repertoire Magazine for healthcare product distributors and the Journal of Healthcare Contracting for publisher Medical Distribution Solutions Inc.
An avid lover of jazz, McKnight played clarinet, saxophone and the vibraphone, participating in a 17-piece band and a swing band in Connecticut and various groups in Illinois and Tucson, where he served on the Jazz Society board. In addition, McKnight actively served on the vestry of St. James the Less, Northfield, IL, and St. Philip’s in the Hills, Tucson.
McKnight is survived by his wife of 55 years Dede, and children Elizabeth (Dalila), Will (Liz), Alec (Maureen) and grandchildren, Grant, Ian and Skylar.
To view McKnight’s Honoree profile on Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site, please click here.
Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Inc., is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation thatidentifies and honors men and women who have demonstrated significant leadership in, influence on and contributions to the supply chain from healthcare providers, healthcare product manufacturers and distributors, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms, educational institutions and media outlets.
Bellwether League Inc. is funded by five Founding Sponsors – Hospira, Kimberly-Clark Health Care, MedAssets, Owens & Minor and Premier Purchasing Partners – and a host of additional sponsors.
The Board of Directors of Bellwether League Inc. includes a veteran group of industry advocates that includes:
A memorial service will be held April 27, 2012, at 4 p.m., at St James the Less, 550 Sunset Ridge Rd., Northfield, IL, 60093. Donations may be sent to Evercare Hospice, 6245 E. Broadway Blvd, #510, Tucson, AZ 85711 or St. James the Less.