John Gaida John Gaida, CMRP, FAHRMM    

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX    

Joined AHRMM in 1980

When John Gaida joined AHRMM in 1980, he could not have anticipated the dramatic changes he would see in healthcare supply chain management or the persistent leadership/presence he would bring to his professional association – and the instrumental role he would play in shaping it. Those who know John well, however, are not surprised. This is a man who until recently rode 13,000 miles a year on his bicycle (yes, you read that correctly!) and who can’t sit still long enough to watch a television program. This is a take-charge man who likes to get things done!

Back then, AHRMM was called ASHPMM (American Society for Hospital Purchasing and Materials Management), and its members numbered in the hundreds, not thousands. John joined the board of directors in 1982, and became the organization’s 25th president in 1986. He also served a second board term in 1999. John has participated on several AHRMM task forces and committees, writes articles and presents at AHRMM conferences, and is an AHRMM Fellow (FARHMM). He is one of a small but distinguished group who has received AHRMM’s highest honor, the Gossett Leadership Award, and he was one of the first individuals to achieve lifetime FAHRMM status many years ago. This, in itself, is impressive, but while John was accomplishing all this for and through AHRMM, he was also a rising star in supply chain.

John started his career right out of college (Bradley University) as a buyer in management training for JC Penney. After several years in retail, he applied for his first job in healthcare purchasing for a hospital in Peoria, IL. Throughout his 36-year career in healthcare supply chain management, John has moved around the country and held several positions with increasing responsibilities, but he has spent the last 14 years as Senior Vice President for Supply Chain Management at Texas Health Resources (THR) where he is accountable for all things supply chain in this 25-hospital IDN in the Dallas/Fort Worth market. Supply chain at THR is a progressive program encompassing nonprofit and for profit entities. It has a large non-acute supply chain program serving over 250 physician’s offices, 20 ambulatory surgical centers, 10 imaging centers, and 6 other integrated health campuses, as well as responsibility for Clinical Engineering throughout the organization.

A seasoned professional and well-practiced in the art of communication, negotiating is (“hands down!”) John’s favorite part of the job, followed closely by teaching others in the organization how supply chain can work with them to achieve the best outcomes for their departments, and ultimately, the patients. As is often the case, this same aspect can be one of the most challenging of his job. Educating and negotiating with clinicians can be tricky, he says, but the pay-offs are significant. John has found that data is the key to success. “We have to present compelling data in a way that is clean and succinct… but they still have to read it!” Getting the right individuals to show up for meetings, having digested the cost analysis report is challenging, and not without its frustrations. That is where relationships become critical; John believes strong relationships provide the underpinnings to rewarding negotiations. Informed, consistent, transparent, and respectful communication is behind any strong relationship, and strong relationships undergird and support the supply chain.

John firmly believes in mentoring others. He helped start the AHRMM Mentor program. He considers Lee Boergadine a key influencer and early mentor in his own career. Lee was John’s boss in Peoria, and President of AHRMM in 1982. He encouraged John to become more involved in AHRMM and leave his employ to run his own show. John remains grateful to Lee to this day. In turn, John has encouraged others to become more involved in their professional organization. “I am proud to have had four future AHRMM presidents work for me (Bill Donato, Ed Walera, Mary Starr, and Renee Landry) as well as three future board members (Dee Donatelli, Leanne Paine, and Becky Daniel). We must continue to pay it forward…”

John joined AHRMM because his boss Lee told him it was the best thing he could do as a young professional in healthcare supply chain. He explained how it was a way to meet others who were in the same profession/role/situation as him, and the best way to learn from others and build strong networks. While there have been many remarkable moments and unforgettable experiences over his long association with AHRMM, the time John spent as AHRMM President is the most memorable. Not only did he make lifelong friends (John’s best friend is someone he met on the AHRMM board almost 30 years ago!), but together they shaped the future for what AHRMM is today, and in that he takes much pride. Most notably, John wrote the AHRMM values for the board; values which are still recited at the beginning of each AHRMM board meeting.

John cites mentoring, case studies, leading practices, white papers, and access to other members as some of the biggest perks of membership and engagement, and what keeps him coming back to AHRMM. In John’s estimation, the annual conference is still one of AHRMM’s greatest assets and member benefits. He sees it as “a huge think-tank of all levels of supply chain folks,” where presentations are all state-of-the-art and the networking opportunities are unparalleled. “I cannot stress enough the need to work with your peers to develop new ideas, implement new trends, and generally find out what others are doing.” In the last 36 years, John has only missed two annual conferences… and “both for good reasons!”

Something most people don’t know about John – He is a twin (fraternal, a sister)! He loves collecting guns, old coins, swords, and cars, among other things. In his free time, he likes to read (mostly mysteries), smoke cigars, take care of his cars, and (obviously) ride his bike.

John’s personal motto: “If you go for it and take a chance at something/anything, you either win or you don’t. If you don’t go for it, you definitely won’t win.” AHRMM certainly found a winning advocate and tireless leader in John.