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LeeSar invaluable to Lee, Sarasota counties

Dec. 25, 2012
Bob Simpson, CEO of LeeSar
Bob Simpson, CEO of LeeSar / Lindsay Terry/

LeeSar, established in 1998

Management: President and CEO Robert Allan Simpson
Owned: Jointly by Lee Memorial Health System, Sarasota Memorial Health System, the Central Florida Health Alliance in Leesburg, and Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Ala.
Main functions: Medical supplier that repairs, sterilizes, prepares and packages equipment, pharmaceutical supplies, food and other items for hospitals and other clients.
In 2012: Opened a $40 million, 23-acre distribution center at 2727 Winkler Ave. in Fort Myers, where 150,000 meals a day are prepared for Lee Memorial Health System and 200,000 individual supply requests are processed each month.


LeeSar is one of three finalists for The News-Press Business/Corporation of the Year. They were picked from over 40 nominations. The media group will name the winners in this category and five others on Jan. 17 at a reception at Grace Community Church. The News-Press has honored outstanding community contributors for 26 years. Other finalist profiles this week: Thursday - Trailblazers of the Year. Friday - Heroes of the Year. Saturday - Public Officials of the Year. Sunday - People to Watch for 2013. Reported Sunday, Dec. 23 - People of the Year.


He makes it sound so easy.

But supplying major area hospitals and 60 other companies with 200,000 individual supply requests every month, from medical instruments and supplies to meals — while making money and saving money for clients as well — can’t be that easy.

It’s what LeeSar does under the leadership of CEO Bob Simpson, who boils success down to a few key concepts that have driven him.

One is eliminating the middleman, or in economic terms, vertical integration.

“We knew that the model that health care was using across the country to purchase medical supplies was broken. We also knew there were a lot of people making a lot of money selling the supplies to hospitals,” Simpson said, explaining the state of the industry when LeeSar was established in 1998. “We streamlined the process.”

As a result, the company saved Lee Memorial Health System — which owns LeeSar along with Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System — about $12 million last year. LeeSar in October opened a new, $40 million distribution center in Fort Myers. The local warehouse is three times the size of the one it replaced in Lehigh Acres, although that facility is still open. At least 50 more employees work for the company since its expansion.

“LeeSar provides an incredible amount of value to Lee Memorial Health System by allowing us to reduce inventory and operating costs while realizing increased efficiencies and convenience,” said Lee Memorial Health System president and CEO Jim Nathan. “At a time when health care leaders must do more with less without compromising quality of care, their services are indispensable. Most importantly, by providing cost-effective, high quality supply chain services to us, it allows LMHS to focus on what we do best — the delivery of patient care.”

LeeSar can do this because it has a tradition of trust and reliability, Simpson said, which all started with face-to-face communication. “We sat down and talked to the doctors. We met with every major medical practice and explained the challenges we faced and made a commitment to them.” Both sides stayed loyal and made the model work.

Simpson is equally committed to giving back to the community that has helped the company succeed. He is a dedicated philanthropist who will put the man-hours into a task as well.

Along with his wife, Linda, Simpson is chairing the 2013 Cattle Barons’ Ball, a benefit for the American Cancer Society that has raised $3.4 million for services, research and education.

“Anybody that runs a company that gets its success from the community not only should give back but has an obligation to give back to the community. If you have it, you should share it.”

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