a) What role did Robert Walter play in shaping Cardinal Health?
b) What decisions did he make at key inflection points that accounted for Cardinal's success?
c) What impact will his retirement have on the company?
In the late 1960's, Robert D. Walter found the day in and day out bureaucracies he was facing in his job as an engineer at North American Rockwell to be frustrating and decided to return to school to pursue a business degree. Upon graduating from Harvard Business School in 1971, Walter borrowed $1.3 million dollars to acquire Cardinal Foods, a distributor of wholesale foods products (Teagarden, 18-4, 15). This acquisition was where Walter spent the first few years growing Cardinal Foods into a strong regional brand; however, Walter realized that his company's ability to continue growing in the food industry would be greatly hampered by the consolidation of the large food retailers, which limited his markets expansion capacity (Teagarden, 18-4, 15). This limited ability to grow ultimately led Walter and his team to ...
In 1979, Walter and his team's economic research concluded that the pharmaceutical distribution industry was highly fragmented and had a growth rate that was greater than the economy year over year. This opportunity to enter the market and expand combined with great profit margins, lead Walter to begin migrating Cardinal Foods into a pharmaceutical distributor in 1979 (Teagarden, 18-4, 16).