Hats off to Ryan, Sammons
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Neither one of the co-recipients of this year’s Fantle Award would want you to call it the end of an era. They would both tell you that’s an overstatement.
(THE NEWS: NACDS honors Tom Ryan, Mary Sammons with lifetime achievement awards. For the full story, click here)
To be sure, to be the kind of leaders Tom Ryan and Mary Sammons are, you need to have a strong personality — almost larger than life. The people on The Street and the shareholders need to believe what you tell them; and the people you lead have to want to follow you. It pays to be a straight shooter; it pays more if you prove you can follow through. Ryan and Sammons did both.
Tom Ryan only ever had one employer. From a staff pharmacist fresh out of the University of Rhode Island in 1974, to head of the company — 1-of-4 people, including current president and CEO Larry Merlo, ever to lead CVS. Ryan’s story is somewhat unique, and not just because he was a CVS “lifer,” but because of the indelible stamp his leadership has left on the company. As Ryan grew in his career, CVS grew from a feisty New England-based regional to a national drug store powerhouse, to a multiheaded healthcare colossus that actively is engaged in the reinvention of American health care, and is helping to redefine the role of the community pharmacist in patient care.
For Sammons, the path that led her to become the top boss at Rite Aid was very different. She joined the company at a time of immense turmoil in its storied history, following a highly successful run at Fred Meyer, where she had risen through the leadership ranks to become president and CEO. But DSN has long believed that when the final story is written on Rite Aid, Sammons will be remembered as a valiant hero who helped bring the company back through the darkness to a new renaissance that continues to unfold, led by the team that she helped assemble. Rite Aid’s most recent numbers are showing signs of organic growth as a couple of its most important strategic commitments begin to bear fruit — most notably its new Wellness+ loyalty program, which is gaining traction fast.
And all of this says nothing about the important leadership Ryan and Sammons have provided for the entire industry, not only during their respective tenures as chairman of NACDS, but as two of the industry’s most important everyday ambassadors. As Washington continues to address health reform, it is clear that whatever the future holds for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — whether it’s re-spin, repeal or reform — community pharmacy will play a larger role in the delivery of health care in America. Ryan and Sammons have played an indispensible role in this.
But this also is why neither one of them would want you to refer to this as the end of an era. For one thing, the good work continues for both of the companies they once led — Sammons, in fact, remains acting chairman; Ryan gives up the gavel once and for all this Wednesday at the annual CVS Caremark shareholder meeting — led today by the teams they helped assemble. At CVS, where the change perhaps seems more dramatic given Ryan’s long career at the company, including almost 20 years in the captain’s seat, Ryan’s successor practically is a “lifer” himself, having been with the company for more than 20 years, coming over in the 1990 acquisition of Peoples Drug, and only having worked for one other company prior to that in his entire career.
And like Ryan, Merlo already has left an indelible stamp on the chain, which is comprised to a large extent of the assorted retail banners CVS has acquired through the years — many of which Merlo led the integration of.
Ryan and Sammons are both proud to tell you that the beat goes on at each of their respective companies. That’s the mark of a successful leader. Not only do they leave their companies in much better shape than when they found them, they leave their companies as each continues to grow, led by strong, capable new leaders that will continue the story.
It takes a big, strong personality to be the kind of leaders Tom Ryan and Mary Sammons are. But Ryan and Sammons are proof that you don’t need to have a big, stuffy ego to be an effective leader. That’s another reason why neither of them would want you to call it the “end of an era;” why, they practically cringe when you refer to it that way.
That it is not the “end of an era” for either company is as much a tribute to the lifetime of achievement these two important executives have had as any trophy ever could be.
‘Get what you pay for?’ You bet
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — It’s kind of refreshing to find that the old adage “you get what you pay for” still holds true.
(THE NEWS: Shoppers would spend more for good customer service, survey finds. For the full story, click here)
Customer service is one of those labor cost line items that some retailers view as a controllable expenditure, while others see it as an investment. You often can distinguish one from the other as soon as you walk through the door — if you feel good about where you are, that retailer probably sees customer service as an investment.
Now these investment-minded retailers know there’s a return to be had — to the tune of the 13% premium that most Americans are willing to pay extra for that feel-good shopping vibe.
The news is not new to the retail pharmacy industry, however, given the amount of recognition McKesson’s Health Mart has received of late around exemplary customer service. In the May issue of Consumer Reports, a report found that such independents as McKesson’s Health Mart franchise group serve as a good example of the kind of experience patients are in search of. Health Mart also has been recognized for its outstanding service elsewhere. J.D. Power in February named Health Mart as 1-of-the-40 companies that was a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion.
Giant Eagle highlights fresh produce
PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle is celebrating its locally and regionally grown produce with a new video on its website.
The retailer said that it is taking several steps to educate consumers on which fruits and vegetables are at their peak season throughout the year, and is further relaying this message through its video, which can be viewed on the company’s website.
“What we’ve found is that our customers associate in-season produce with peak freshness, better value and environmental consciousness,” Giant Eagle VP produce Craig Ignatz said. “No matter where it’s from — a local farm or the far side of the globe — we ask ourselves the same questions every day: how fast can we get it to our customers, and how fresh can it be?”
Ignatz also said that depending on the season, the produce Giant Eagle offers won’t necessarily be from our region, but may come from farther away where climate and growing conditions are ideal.
According to Giant Eagle, its customers annually consume:
56 million lbs. of bananas;
11 million lbs. of strawberries;
17 million ears of corn; and
Nearly 17 million lbs. of Idaho potatoes.
For information about Giant Eagle’s produce sourcing efforts, watch the video here.