Seeing the Field

Jim Marziale believes in the importance of leadership and teamwork. Not surprising. He’s had some great teachers.

Jim Marziale joined Amerinet as vice president, field specialists, in May 2014, following roughly 20 years in healthcare distribution and four years in inventory and asset management for two logistics corporations. But his training in leadership and teamwork began even earlier.

Born and raised in LaFayette, N.Y., a small town about 20 miles south of Syracuse, he was surrounded by mentors. “Proud Americans,” he says.

His father, first-generation Italian immigrant Americo Marziale, was a member of the Greatest Generation. As a member of the 466th Bombardment Group (Heavy), he flew B-24 bombers on missions from England over Germany during World War II. His crew was shot down on March 14, 1945, during the Rhineland Campaign, but he and a friend were lucky enough to be picked up by a forward reconnaissance unit of Hodges 1st Army.

“He was like others of that generation,” says Marziale. “They came home from war and went to work.”

West Point

In school, Jim Marziale was a three-sport athlete: lacrosse, football and basketball. He almost played football at the college level, but as one of the top lacrosse players in the Northeast, he was recruited by U.S. Military Academy lacrosse coach Dick Edell to come to West Point. “I not only liked lacrosse, but I bought off on everything West Point was about,” he says. “I am a huge advocate of the service academy experience in general.” (He’s still involved in lacrosse. In fact, he coaches the girls team at The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas.)

Marziale gained further experience in leadership and teamwork serving in the United States Army from 1984 through 1989. Commissioned in air defense artillery – his first assignment was in Germany, where his mission was active surveillance of the Czechoslovakian boarder – he was trained and NATO-certified as a Tactical Control Officer, in charge of a surface-to-air missile unit. “It was 1985; we were still focused on the Cold War and the Warsaw Pact countries,” he says.

 

He got a close-up look at healthcare – and its supply chain – following the birth of his first daughter in Frankfurt, Germany, who was born prematurely, at 27 weeks. Medically evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, she spent almost a year in recovery, her mother with her all the time. Marziale was transferred to the Quartermaster Corps, and received logistics training in the Defense Logistics Agency, whose responsibility it is to support the military through the acquisition and management of weapons and other materials.

 

Through his work in the Army, Marziale became acquainted with performance-oriented training, or what he now refers to as situational training. “At that time, the Army’s budgets were tight, resources were shrinking, but the threat from the Warsaw Pact countries was growing, and we had to maintain readiness. When I think about it, it sounds like our healthcare industry today.

 

“We had to get smarter. Training had to be more relevant. And the Army realized we had to elevate folks who had experience, who were engaged, who understood the situation. We needed to get them in the setting, evaluate what we were doing, then teach everyone else what they learned. That was one of my big takeaways. That’s my whole mindset today, whether it’s coaching high school lacrosse or leading a team [in healthcare].”

 

Supply chain

 

In 1989, he joined Baxter Healthcare (later Allegiance Healthcare, now Cardinal Health) in the mid-Atlantic area. Under the direction of Area Vice President Skip Dalrymple, Marziale was exposed to all facets of the business – sales, customer service, inventory, contracting, sales management, distribution, etc. “Skip’s philosophy was to grow general managers, people who holistically understood the company,” he says. It was another valuable lesson learned. In his fourth year with the company, he was promoted to regional operations and moved to Houston.

 

In early 1997, however, Marziale left healthcare to become corporate director of inventory for American Parts Services, for whom he led inventory management and purchasing for Big-A Auto Parts stores, with 270 company-owned stories, 28 distribution centers and 215 installer warehouses.

 

A year later, he followed American Parts Services CEO Mark Hoffman to Corporate Express Delivery and its new subsidiary delivery business, where he was in charge of asset management. He was responsible for roughly $75 million in fuel, capital equipment and MRO, and for a time was one of the largest procurers of small delivery vehicles in the country, working with companies such as Ford Motor Company and General Motors.

 

Supplier relationships

 

The Corporate Express Delivery gave Marziale a direct look at the supplier proposition. “The big lesson for me was, supplier relationships are really important. And in those relationships, trust is very important.

 

“Until that experience, I considered myself a hard-core ops person. I put everything on the financial value proposition. I just wanted the best deal. What I came to learn was, in a competitive marketplace, you need suppliers you can collaborate with, that you can trust. It doesn’t mean you don’t want a competitive deal. But there has to be more.”

 

Another thing Marziale learned was that just because a person comes into an industry from outside, that doesn’t mean he or she has the answers to that industry’s ills. “A lot of times, when people come in, they make the mistake of thinking, ‘These people don’t know what they’re doing,’” he says. “What I’ve learned is that there are nuances in any business that must be [understood]. There are nuances that force people in that industry to do things that might look absurd in an academic world.”

 

Healthcare is a good example, he says. Standardization and utilization control are sound concepts, but in the end, they are subordinate to patient care. Despite the best laid plans, product usage depends on what the clinician needs when he or she is in surgery or taking care of a patient. “You have to think of any industry’s primary objective. In healthcare, it’s patient care. And that’s more pronounced now than ever, as reimbursement is being driven by outcomes.”

 

His experience outside healthcare taught him another lesson – the value of analytics. “I’m a big proponent,” he says. “But what I would say is, analytics determine opportunity. Analytics are not solutions by themselves. They point you in a direction, but you need people, teams, leadership, to capitalize on those opportunities.”

 

Back to healthcare

 

In 2001, Marziale was recruited by Cardinal Health to become regional manager of the South Texas region, where he previously had served as director of operations. “At the time, South Texas was considered a mature region for the company,” he says. “But we doubled the size of that region in five years by selling supply chain excellence.” Rather than selling product features and benefits, Marziale and his team focused on “winning the channel.” Instead of approaching customers from the standpoint of selling products, “we realized the story we needed to tell was, ‘We need to be your supply chain partner.’ The products were the fuel running through that engine,” making it run efficiently. The approach lowered the customer’s costs while increasing the supplier’s sales.

 

Later, in 2006, when he was serving as Cardinal’s vice president of clinical operations management, Marziale was asked to create a Medical Supply Solutions Group. “I had always been in the field or run field businesses,” he says. “To me, this opportunity sounded very consultant-driven.” It wasn’t. “The key thing was, it focused on implementation,” he says.

 

“We were a very eclectic group,” comprising materials managers, nurses, IT specialists and others, he says. Their job was to help clients improve their processes for product acquisition, inventory management, labor management, etc. One big project in which the group was engaged was helping one IDN – North Shore-Long Island Jewish – build an 84,000-square-foot integrated distribution center in Bethpage, N.Y., in 2011.

 

Amerinet

 

Marziale joined Amerinet in May 2014, as vice president, field specialists. It’s a logical step in his career.

 

In his role, he is responsible for leading the field specialist sales organization and developing strategies to drive sales growth and support the member experience. Amerinet’s specialists are experts who provide one-to-one interaction with members to optimize product standardization and utilization, and to enhance savings opportunities and clinical outcomes in a variety of portfolio areas.

 

“What got me excited about this opportunity was its breadth,” he says. “The group I have now is multidisciplinary. It’s not just med/surg, but pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, lab, nutrition, environmental services, engineering.” Combined with Amerinet’s executive solutions group, “we are able to address much of our member’s P&L,” he says. “And it’s embedded into the GPO business model, where I think it can really shine.”

 

Amerinet has robust service offerings, says Marziale. “We feel that if we take these solutions, put them in the hands of subject matter experts, we will not only have a better chance of successfully deploying them, but also of helping our members reap the outcomes they are meant to achieve.”

 

There are plenty of challenges facing Marziale, Amerinet and healthcare providers in general. Taking care of an aging population with declining reimbursement is just one of them. “But these industry forces are opportunities for my team,” he says. They intend to make the most of those opportunities by:

 

  • Maximizing its peer-to-peer strategy, whereby a provider professional, such as a pharmacist, is matched with a counterpart from Amerinet.
  • Strengthening its city market approach, that is, capitalizing on the relationships that providers form within certain metropolitan areas.
  • Promoting team selling. “It’s going back to military days,” says Marziale. “It’s like an eclectic task force.”

 

 

 

“I believe that the old adage, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention,’ is alive and well in healthcare,” says Marziale. “Business models will change. We all have to change. The solutions for success will be found through collaboration with clinical care providers in the field, where patient care is delivered.

 

“They’re the ones doing the work. We have to get close to them. We have to offer solutions they will buy into.”