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American Hospital Supply Corporation


Founded in 1922 by Foster G. McGaw (1897-1986), the American Hospital Supply Corporation (AHSC) served as a major supplier of health care products to hospitals in the United States and around the world through subsidiaries for over half a century. The AHSC maintained its position of leader in the health care industry until the corporation was acquired by competitor Baxter Travenol in a merger on November 25, 1985.

The AHSC dominated the hospital supply field during the 1930s and 1940s by changing the way hospital supplies were marketed, designating regional salesman who made frequent sales calls. The AHSC continued to dominate the field by diversifying its product line and later by pursuing vertical integration of suppliers.

The 1950s and 1960s was a period of strong growth for the AHSC. In 1953, the AHSC reported sales surpassing $37.5 million. Ten years later, sales had jumped to $150 million. By 1964, the AHSC sold to 19 out of 20 hospitals in America. The AHSC also employed one out of every 46 workers in America as well. While the tremendous success enjoyed by the AHSC was a result of the corporations strong leadership, the growth of the hospital industry also played a vital role increasing sales for the AHSC. From 1946 to 1962, the number of hospital beds rose 15%. During that same time, hospital admissions rose by 70%.

Throughout the history of the AHSC, Foster G. McGaw played a prominent role in the direction of the corporation. McGaw's influence on the day-to-day operations of the AHSC lessened as the corporation expanded and branched out into manufacturing during the 1960s and 1970s. Despite McGaw's waning influence within the AHSC executive structure, he still maintained a role of father figure to the corporation.

For more information about the AHSC, see Growth Through Service: The Story of the American Hospital Supply Corporation by Frederick D. Sturdivant (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Foster G. McGaw (1897-1986) Papers

Identifier: 55/28/5
Abstract The papers of Foster McGaw (the founder and guiding force behind the American Hospital Supply Corporation) document his life between 1908 and 1986 and fill 95 boxes. They are divided into three subseries: Personal Files, Philanthropic Records, and Financial Records. The papers illuminate both McGaw's personal concerns and, to a lesser extent, his business affairs, although these areas sometimes overlap.
Dates: 1885-1986