Mediware CEO wins award

Monday, July 25, 2016

LENEXA, Kan. – Founded in 1980, Mediware Information Systems is hardly new to the scene. So what drew Ernst & Young in June to select the company’s CEO for its Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Central Midwest for 2016?

“I think it’s our financial growth,” said Kelly Mann, who has led the software solutions company for almost nine years now. “We’re a mature company that’s reinventing itself. We have 70% of our revenues coming from areas that we were not in seven years ago.”

Here’s what Mann, who previously worked for 3M Health Information Systems for 23 years, had to say about why his award has as much to do with Mediware’s employees and customers as himself.

HME News: What did you learn about yourself going through this process?

Kelly Mann: My ability to carve out a strategy and execute on it. It’s hard to get the alignment of the board on something new that involves a big investment. Some people are good at strategy; and some people are good at mechanics. With my team—at least 100 employees have been here as long as I have been—we were able to put the two together, and it’s a pretty good thing.

HME: How has that strategy paid off?

Mann: Our fiscal sales were $39 million in 2007, the year I got here. We’ll probably close the books in two weeks on fiscal sales of $155 million this year.

HME: Mediware has been owned by a private equity firm, Thoma Bravo, since 2012. Typically, these firms hold on to companies for five to seven years. How will that affect the company into next year

Mann: Our partners get our strategy, and they haven’t made running the company difficult. I’d be crazy not to say private equity firms don’t have life cycles, but this one really doesn’t. I think the real opportunity for us is, if we continue to grow the value of the company and the richness of our customer base, there may be another firm that will put us in their portfolio. (Thoma Bravo) is sensitive to that.

HME: As a regional award recipient, you’ll go to a national event in Palm Springs, Calif., in November, where EY will name one Entrepreneur of the Year for the nation. You’ll be in good company—what do you hope to learn at that event?

Mann: I’m always learning something interesting from other entrepreneurs. At the regional event, I stood next to a gentleman also from Kansas City who is 28 and he’s a distiller. He was talking about his pricing and packaging challenges, and how he overcame them. You can get a lot of gems, especially from industries other than yours.