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Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Development

All in the family

By Sandy Adams

Something surprising is shared by the nation's 11th largest privately- held company and New Hampshire's only children's hospital: family values.

With a workforce of more than 7,000 employees, and sales that are expected to reach $10 billion this year, one might expect C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., to be characterized more by fierce business strategies than by support for sick children. Indeed, the company—which was founded in 1918 by Israel Cohen in Worcester, Mass.—did not reach its current preeminence without astute business leadership.

But with American corporations suffering almost daily from major blows to their moral and ethical foundations, C&S is remarkable for its commitment to its employees as well as to the communities in which it does business.

During this year alone, primarily through the sponsorship of annual golf tournaments at Mount Snow and Haystack Mountain in southern Vermont, C&S raised $70,000 for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD), as well as $50,000 for the Jimmy Fund.

For the past four years, C&S Wholesale has given a portion of the proceeds from its annual golf tournament to CHaD's pediatric oncology program. Initiated by one of C&S's employees—a cancer survivor who had been treated at DHMC's Norris Cotton Cancer Center—the fundraising effort by C&S is emblematic of the company's philanthropic bent and of the appreciation that the firm has for the presence of a leading academic medical center in New Hampshire.

C&S Wholesale is remarkable for its commitment to its employees as well as to the communities in which it operates. This year alone, C&S raised $70,000 for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth.

"We are family-owned and private," explains Richard Cohen, who is the chairman of the C&S board. "When I started in 1974, I had 150 employees and I knew them all. Now I have thousands of employees. I felt, and still feel, that if one of my employees has a problem, it's a problem for all of us.

"There is a sort of collective knowledge in the company when someone is sick," he goes on to explain. "Many in the company come together to help support the person who is ill. In this area, when they're seriously ill, that person would be sent to DHMC." What that means, Cohen adds, is that it is important for any big business to give back to the community in which it operates.

C&S Wholesale Grocers is based in Keene, N.H. One of the largest food wholesalers in the United States, C&S delivers groceries to more than 600 independent supermarkets, major supermarket chains, mass marketers such as Wal-Mart, military bases, and wholesale clubs, located from Maine to Florida.

Photo: Flying Squirrel Graphics

As a full-line distributor, C&S handles everything that a supermarket needs; it sells more than 50,000 items, including general groceries, produce, dairy products, deli products, bakery goods, flowers, frozen foods, meats, seafood, beverages, and a variety of nonfood products. It has warehouses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Cohen is now the owner of the firm, which was started by his grandfather in 1918.

"C&S is an extremely important ally as we work to provide the best care for children and their families," explains Patricia McMonagle, an associate director of major gifts for DHMC. "That one of the nation's top businesses is a partner with us in this is a powerful combination."

John Modlin, M.D., chair of pediatrics and co-medical director of CHaD, agrees. "The very generous support from C&S enhances our ability to provide the high level of clinical care the children of our region deserve," he says. "We are grateful to Rick Cohen and C&S for supporting our mission."

Rick Cohen, pictured in the earlier part of the article, is the owner of C&S Wholesale, a major grocery- distribution firm that has been a supporter of the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth for some years. The company's gifts to CHaD have primarily supported the pediatric oncology program —which encompasses clinical care like that delivered in CHaD's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (above) and research like that done by John Modlin, chair of the Department of Pediatrics (below).
Both photos: Joseph Mehling

In C&S's Brattleboro warehouse is what looks like a small house with a red cross. It is where the equipment for treating on-the-job accidents is kept. According to Cohen, C&S spends a considerable amount of time and money on providing inhouse training on how to deal with accidents. The company also allows employees who are EMTs to take time off for—and even pays for— their training; as a result, the firm has many EMTs in its workforce.

That advance preparation, and the proximity of DHMC, became a life-saving matter for one employee. Crushed by a forklift, the employee got immediate attention on-site and then was air-evacuated to DHMC. Once hours away from death, he is now doing fine.

"DHMC is the best run, truly caring medical facility I've ever seen," Cohen emphasizes. He says that in his parents' era, the company used to send injured employees to Boston, but that as they became more familiar with DHMC, the family has found it to be a "truly exceptional" place.

"DHMC is the best run, truly caring medical facility I've ever seen," Cohen emphasizes.

Displaying a level of compassion more usually associated with someone in social work than with the CEO of one of the nation's top corporations, Cohen recalls another employee who had what she thought were serious gynecological problems. "I sent her to Leslie Demars, who had treated my wife," Cohen explains. "It turned out to be a simple problem. Leslie treated her, and it turns out there is a 95-percent chance of cure. She was so happy, she cried."

Just like family.

Sandy Adams is the director of development communications for DMS-DHMC.

Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it's being done to him or by him.
— Frank A. Clark

"Unwavering dedication"

DMS recently received a $2.5-million bequest from the estate of William B. Ruger, an American gun designer and the founder of Sturm, Ruger and Company. A generous philanthropist to hospitals and museums all across the country, Ruger was chairman emeritus of the company at the time of his death in July.

With plants located in Newport, N.H., and Prescott, Ariz., and corporate headquarters in Southport, Conn., Sturm, Ruger manufactures rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers for a variety of sporting and law-enforcement purposes as well as precision castings for aerospace, automotive, and other applications. A legend in U.S. industry, Ruger influenced the original design and styling of every firearm his company made.

Ruger was posthumously awarded the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors individuals who demonstrate "an unwavering dedication to their industry, their local community, and the state."

Carolyn Ruger Vogel accepted the award on her father's behalf. "My father saw the great potential of opening a major manufacturing facility in Newport back in 1963 while on a hunting trip. The industrial history of the region, combined with the strong New Hampshire work ethic, inspired him to build what eventually became the largest facility of the largest sporting firearms manufacturer in the nation."

"Bill Ruger's devotion to highquality workmanship was evident throughout his personal and professional life and in the company he built," says Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., acting dean of DMS. "We are so grateful for his friendship over the years and deeply honored that he chose to support DMS with this generous bequest."

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