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Bellwether League, Inc.12 pioneers enter supply chain ‘hall of fame’
Careers, contributions of 2009 Honoree Class help refine, define the profession

SCHAUMBURG, IL (July 21, 2009) – Bellwether League Inc. (BLI), the healthcare supply chain “hall of fame,” recognized its second group of noteworthy honorees – a dozen men and women who influenced the industry through their actions and insights, contributing a legacy of excellence that endures to this day.

BLI’s 10-member Board of Directors selected 12 men and women to induct into its hall of fame. The Honoree Class of 2009 includes George Ainsworth, Charles Auslander, Guy J. Clark, Gordon A. Friesen, Lillian R. Matiska, Brien Laing, William M. McKnight Jr., Sara I. Mobley, Paul B. Powell, Samuel G. Raudenbush, Warren Rhodes and James E. Stover. These 12 were chosen for their intellectual and operational contributions to healthcare through their achievements in hospitals, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), manufacturers and distributors, consulting firms, educational institutions and media properties.

Three are former presidents of the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) and one a former chairman of the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA).

George Ainsworth

The late George Ainsworth was instrumental in the success of group purchasing operations at 10 state, regional and municipal hospital associations. As a leading executive during the 1960s and 1970s within Hospital Bureau Inc. (HBI), regarded as the nation’s first commercial GPO by its founding in 1911, Ainsworth helped coordinate buying power by ushering in such concepts as committed-volume contracting, one member-one vote philosophy and vendor administrative fee collection by GPOs.

Charles Auslander

As a Midwestern hospital purchasing director in the late 1930s and early 1940s (Chicago’s Michael Reese Hospital), the late Charles Auslander was an early advocate of product standardization, due in large part to material conservation efforts during World War II. Auslander joined Joint Purchasing Corp. (JPC) as executive director in the mid-1940s and helped to build JPC as one of the forerunners of contemporary GPOs. During his three decades of service at JPC, Auslander developed one of the earliest group purchasing programs for laboratory products, and he was particularly skilled in dealing with CEOs, COOs and hospital department managers to consolidate purchasing volumes.

Guy J. Clark

As a purchasing agent for the city of Cleveland in the early 1900s, the late Guy Clark was invited to join the two-year-old Cleveland Hospital Council as CHC’s first purchasing agent in 1918. Clark developed CHC’s cooperative purchasing service, which bridged relationships between the hospitals, vendors and central organization, serving as its first director. In 1926, Clark became CHC’s third executive director, a post he held for 29 years until his retirement in 1955. During his 37-year career at CHC, Clark never wavered from his purchasing roots, consistently pursuing cost-cutting initiatives and economic efficiency for the organization and its members, even during his 29 years of top leadership service.

Gordon A. Friesen

Few have reached the late Gordon Friesen’s impact on hospital design and healthcare supply chain operations. An influential thought leader who recognized as far back as the mid-1930s that the rapidly expanding patchwork hospital incubated deeper operational confusion within its walls. Consequently, Friesen rallied for systematic planning and personalized patient care over an apparently unwieldy mass production approach and a growth of “little kingdoms.” In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Friesen envisioned, designed and implemented dozens of hospital projects that redefined and reorganized hospital operations, borrowing ideas from the airlines, hotels and manufacturing industries. Friesen promoted such concepts as each private patient room functioning as a well-equipped nursing station; nursing teams and zoned nursing strategies; the overhead monorail-driven Automatic Cart Transportation System (ACTS); exchange carts; automated washer-sterilizers; dedicated clean and soiled product traffic paths; management engineering and space planning standards; and centralized or regional shared services for food services, laundry and receiving and warehousing.

Brien Laing

A distributor executive who helped initiate electronic data interchange and bar coding between providers and suppliers in the 1960s and 1970s, Brien Laing spent his entire 37-year career at American Hospital Supply Corp. and Baxter Healthcare Corp., interrupting his two-year retirement to return as a director and non-executive chairman of the board of Span-America Medical Systems for another 11 years. Laing helped to promote stockless purchasing and inventory management, as well as the exchange cart system, and marketed the popular exchange cart cover. Laing was one of the first to recognize vendors needed to educate the purchasing professional and would host numerous materials management seminars. He also was an early advocate of group purchasing and the distributor’s integral role. Laing was responsible for training dozens of young managers who would go on to become company CEOs. His mentoring and emphasis on effective management were legendary, contributing to the theatrical career launch of salesman-turned-actor McLean Stevenson, best known for playing Col. Henry Blake during the first three seasons of CBS-TV’s M*A*S*H in the early 1970s.

Lillian R. Matiska

The late Lillian Matiska may have spent her entire supply chain career at the small community hospital she helped to found in 1959, but she left an indelible mark on the profession. Committed to the idea of Jeannette, PA, having its own hospital, Matiska worked to raise the initial funds to build Jeannette Memorial Hospital and became the first employee as director of purchasing and head of personnel. Matiska also rose to industry prominence and national stature as the second woman to serve as president of AHRMM in 1973, earning the association’s George Gossett Leadership Award, as well as the Ellis Karp Award from the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania. She routinely spoke about materials management topics in 28 states, and after her retirement Matiska organized the Association of Retired Employees at the hospital and created a hospital auxiliary to provide scholarships to medical students as an incentive to launch their practices locally.

William M. McKnight Jr.

After working in hospitals for several years, enrolling in a pre-med college program and serving as a regional sales representative at American Hospital Supply Corp. until the late 1960s, Bill McKnight can be credited with inaugurating media coverage of supply chain management within the healthcare industry. Among his publishing accomplishments in the late 1960s and 1970s, McKnight launched a trade magazine for distributors (Medical Products Sales) and one for hospital materials managers (Hospital Purchasing News), the latter of which continues to publish as Healthcare Purchasing News. McKnight also created a trade show for providers and suppliers and an association of manufacturing and sales executives in the 1980s.

Sara I. Mobley

Sara Mobley’s 41-year career in healthcare began in 1949 as a clerk-typist at one prominent Florida hospital and culminated in 1992 as vice president of materials management at another. During those five decades, Mobley rose through the ranks of materials management, successfully developing patient-focused cost savings programs even prior to prospective payment, honing her solid contract negotiation skills, becoming one of the first healthcare supply chain leaders to achieve membership in the American College of Healthcare Executives and serving as AHRMM president in 1983. As a leader in AHRMM, Mobley helped develop certification criteria and helped expand a number of state and local chapters, as well elevate the profession in executive circles. As a leader in hospitals, she mentored a number of professionals still active in supply chain management today.

Paul B. Powell

With more than a decade of purchasing and operations experience in the airline industry in the 1960s and 1970s, Paul Powell became one of the first major proponents of implementing industrial procurement practices in healthcare organizations. As director of purchasing at United Air Lines and then vice president of operations for InFlight Services Inc., the firm responsible for broadcasting major films during flights, Powell oversaw the procurement, management and distribution of supplies, food, equipment and services, facilitated by computerization and keen negotiating skills. Joining American Medical Inc., which quickly was acquired by Humana Inc., in 1974 as senior vice president of material management, Powell helped make Humana a leader in contract terms and pricing, significantly pushing for product standardization throughout the entire Humana system and emphasizing collaboration between providers and suppliers. Powell also helped to pioneer electronic catalogs and computerized purchasing data management. His philosophies on supply data management and supplier relationships are common practice today.

Samuel G. Raudenbush

Sam Raudenbush dedicated himself professionally to supply chain management, steadily rising through the ranks in purchasing to a senior-level support services position three decades later. Raudenbush was an early adopter of vendor partnerships between providers and suppliers and a pioneering leader in expanding materials management to a support services role responsible for such areas as biomedical engineering, maintenance, power plant, central service, patient transportation and operating room. He was one of the first hospital executives to plant a supply chain professional in the operating room in the 1980s to manage inventory and relationships with surgeons and nurses, as well as a proponent and implementer of exchange carts, OR replenishment systems and low-unit-of-measure distribution. Raudenbush also was a staunch supporter of electronic data interchange (EDI), serving as an early advocate of Johnson & Johnson Health Care System’s COACT program. Raudenbush was known for mentoring scores of supply chain professionals who went on to advance their careers, something he considers one of his proudest achievements. He served as AHRMM president in 1988, where he helped to fortify regional educational seminars, improve chapter recognition and institute Board-Elect positions for more effective policy continuity, earning the association’s George Gossett Leadership Award in 1990.

Warren Rhodes

Warren Rhodes may have started his supply chain career as a purchasing agent at Evanston (IL) Hospital in 1960, but within four years he began his meteoric rise in group purchasing ranks by heading up shared services operations at another local hospital. By 1968, Rhodes was tapped by two Catholic health systems to head up their collective group purchasing effort, forming the multi-system GPO Mercy National Purchasing Inc. where he served as president for 34 years until his retirement. Rhodes expanded Mercy National in 1987 to manage the purchasing of non-Mercy-owned for-profit affiliates, a concept that the leading investor-owned hospital companies at the time had yet to explore. In addition, Rhodes helped to establish the first Catholic member group purchasing collaborative known as C+R+O+S+S in the 1990s, a national GPO that lasted for five years and inspired the creation of future GPOs Ascension and Consorta.

James E. Stover

Jim Stover can best be characterized as the “Johnny Appleseed” of distribution innovation in that he helped to spread the process efficiencies and improvements he amassed during his more than 40-year career throughout the industry. In relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation, Stover eagerly adopted leading-edge trends at his distribution company and cultivated such seeds within the industry as bar coding, computerization and product numbering systems. Stover contributed to the distribution industry through extensive association work as well, serving as executive director of HIDA in the 1980s and executive director of ABCO in the 1990s, now known as NDC.

BLI will recognize the Honoree Class of 2009 at its second annual induction dinner, scheduled for Oct. 6, 2009, at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel. The dinner takes place during AHRMM’s National Healthcare Resource & Materials Management Week. In fact, Chicago-based AHRMM expressed its support for BLI when the hall of fame debuted two years ago and continues to provide visibility and promotion of BLI’s activities.

BLI saluted its Class of 2008 Inductees on Oct. 28, 2008, at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel. That inaugural Class included 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. Read each recipient’s bellwether profile online at

BLI honors supply chain professionals in five distinct categories. They are: Education & Media, Supply Chain Management, Group Purchasing, Vendor and Consultant. The Education & Media category includes college/university professors and researchers, publishers, editors and writers. The Supply Chain Management category includes professionals working at hospitals and other non-acute care facilities, hospital systems and integrated delivery organizations. The Group Purchasing category includes professionals from among the national, regional, state, metropolitan and local group purchasing programs. The Vendor category includes professionals employed by manufacturers and distributors of products and services purchased by healthcare providers. The Consultant category includes those professionals advising, instructing and motivating healthcare supply chain management professionals as the primary focus of their practice over the years.

Anyone can nominate a qualified professional for BLI Honoree recognition via BLI’s Web site at Qualifications include advancing the profession and industry influence, a minimum of 10 years work experience, work performance and a minimum of five years of active participation in professional organizations.
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.

BLI is funded by five Founding Sponsors to date – Hospira, Kimberly-Clark Health Care, MedAssets, Owens & Minor and Premier Purchasing Partners – and a host of additional charter, corporate and professional sponsors.

BLI plans to recognize its second group of honorees this summer and honor them at a recognition dinner in Chicago in early October, a schedule that will continue annually.

BLI 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 BLI 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:

  • Jamie C. Kowalski (co-founder and chairman), vice president, business development, Owens & Minor Inc., Milwaukee, WI
  • Rick Dana Barlow (co-founder and executive director), president, Wingfoot Media Inc., Schaumburg, IL
  • Robert P. “Bud” Bowen (secretary), retired CEO, Amerinet Inc., St. Charles, MO
  • Patrick E. Carroll Jr. (treasurer), president, Patrick E. Carroll & Associates, Cypress, CA
  • James F. Dickow, director of supply chain management, facilities and operations consulting, Lerch Bates Inc., Mequon, WI
  • John B. Gaida, senior vice president of supply chain management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • Laurence A. Dickson, retired corporate director of materials management, Sisters of Providence Health System, Seattle, WA
  • Thomas W. Hughes, executive director, Strategic Marketplace Initiative, Scituate, MA
  • Richard A. Perrin, president and CEO, AdvanTech Inc., Annapolis, MD
  • Derwood B. Dunbar Jr., president and CEO, MAGNET Co-op, Mechanicsburg, PA

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

Bellwether League Inc. (BLI) is a non-stock, not-for-profit Illinois corporation, tax exempt under IRS Code Section 501(c)(6). BLI donations and sponsorships are not deductible as a charitable contribution for income tax purposes, but may be deductible as a business expense.