CVS Caremark’s annual meeting of shareholders in May was of special importance as it marked the official retirement of former chairman and CEO Tom Ryan, who left the growing company in the hands of a strong, capable new leader — Larry Merlo.
“I’m passing [the company over] to a great leader, one whom I respect and who knows this business. Larry will take this company to great heights,” Ryan told shareholders in May.
The decision to select Merlo as the new CEO came as little surprise, as he has played a key role in the evolution of the company and has an impressive track record of integrating major acquisitions. Under Merlo’s leadership, CVS completed some of the most successful acquisitions in the history of retail pharmacy — including Longs Drug stores, Osco/Sav-on, Eckerd and Revco — and delivered significant organic growth in major markets across the country.
Merlo, a pharmacist by training with more than 30 years in pharmacy health, joined CVS/pharmacy in 1990 through the company’s acquisition of People’s Drug. He began his career in chain pharmacy in 1978 with People’s Drug in Washington, D.C.
Prior to being named president and COO in May 2010, Merlo served as EVP of the company and president of CVS/pharmacy retail operations, overseeing a portfolio of more than 7,000 CVS/pharmacy locations.
“After more than 20 years, I know this organization, its values and our people’s passion for serving our customers,” Merlo said. “We are building on a strong foundation. CVS Caremark is the leader in providing integrated pharmacy health care. No one else has our combination of the largest chain of retail stores, a leading PBM, the fastest-growing retail health clinics and a strong track record of healthcare innovation.”