In 1963, Gil Minor III joined Owens & Minor – the company his great-grandfather had co-founded as a drug wholesaler in 1882. Minor III became president in 1981 and CEO in 1984. Under his watch, employees came to be called “teammates.” Minor’s own business card referred to him as “coach.” He believed that if Owens & Minor’s customers were successful, so too would the company be. And he made sure others in the organization shared that belief. Firm and uncompromising when it came to fundamental values, such as customer service and business ethics, Minor was by all accounts a gentle leader. And he wasn’t much for lecturing. Instead, he led by example, never hesitating to roll up his sleeves and get involved in thorny issues and problems.
Under Minor’s leadership, the company developed sophisticated distribution tools, including WISDOM, its data warehousing system, and CostTrack, its activity-based costing module. Minor helped orchestrate more than 20 acquisitions in his 21-year tenure, transforming Owens & Minor from a regional player into a publicly traded, national one. (The company had been listed on the over-the-counter stock exchange since 1971, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1988.) It was also under his watch that the company made the painful decision in 1992 to leave its roots and sell its drug wholesaling business.