Jim Stover was second-generation leader of the William T. Stover Company, Little Rock, Ark.; chairman of the Health Industry Distributors Association in 1982; president of HIDA from 1987 to 1993; and president of National Distribution & Contracting Inc. from 1993 to 2005.
Stover was among the first to apply computer technology to inventory control and order processing in the late 1960s. Ten years later, the Stover Co. introduced the Stover Order System, which allowed customers and sales reps to place orders by punching in an order or scanning a bar code.
Stover took an early, active role in the American Surgical Trade Association (later HIDA), and in 1982 became its chairman. It was during his tenure that ASTA’s Long-Range Committee moved to change the name of the organization to HIDA, a change that was ratified by the membership at the organization’s annual meeting in 1982 in Las Vegas.
Stover sold his company to Alco Standard. In 1987, he moved to Washington, D.C., to become president of HIDA. During his tenure, the association published “Stockless Materials Management,” an in-depth study of the costs and benefits of stockless purchasing; and proceeded with its broad industry initiative on supply chain improvement, the Paradigm Project.
In 1993, Stover moved to Nashville, Tenn., to become president of ABCO Dealers. Under his leadership, ABCO acquired StarLine Dealers Association and CIDA Inc., and formed National Distribution & Contracting, a holding company for distribution cooperatives.
DeWight Titus, a pharmacist by training, molded his family’s company in Southern California – F.D. Titus & Sons — into a model for hundreds of other local and regional distributors in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The company set a standard for growth, profitability, sales and service excellence, and manufacturer/distributor relationships, and led the country’s suppliers in learning how to adapt to and serve physicians in a growing managed care market.
Titus is recognized for sharing his knowledge freely with friends and competitors alike. He served as the Health Industry Distributors Association chairman in 1983, and was two-time chairman of the HIDA Educational Foundation. He was largely responsible for rejuvenating the HIDA Educational Foundation and creating the HIDA Executive Conference.
Titus began working in the pharmacy business at F.D. Titus & Sons in 1958. In 1972, he was called on to lead the company’s entree into med/surg distribution. As president, he orchestrated a series of strategic acquisitions, and grew the company into a $170 million organization with customers in California, Nevada, Arizona and southern Oregon, prior to selling it to General Medical in 1994.
He is credited with exercising an open management style, and fostering respect for manufacturers in the company. Titus seized upon the needs of emerging IDNs and physician practice management companies in the 1980s, helping them cope with the new rules of Southern California’s growing managed care market.
George Blowers is remembered for recognizing the need for professionalism and training among distributor sales reps. He served as sales manager, vice president of sales and then executive vice president of Welch Allyn. In 1987, at the Health Industry Distributors Association annual meeting in Las Vegas, Blowers was awarded the HIDA Industry Award of Distinction.
Much of his passion for training was purely selfish. “When I started going on the road, I discovered that the average distributor salesperson had 18,000 things to sell, each in five different sizes,” he said. “You couldn’t expect the guy to know that much about my product.” So he made sure he did.
Blowers became active in the Medical Surgical Trade Association, an association of manufacturers. Ultimately he became chairman of its sales training committee, which was geared largely toward the education of distributor reps.
Blowers showed his true colors to those that attended the seminars. Always well-dressed and punctual to a fault, he would dress in his Marine uniform to rouse the crowd. Blowers said, “I think the salespeople got a kick out of it.” But he also believed that most reps could benefit from a little discipline, because most were way too comfortable doing their own things.
Blowers will be remembered for his humor, passion for sales training, intuitiveness, generosity and his disposition.