Jim Dickow is remembered by healthcare supply chain leaders

April 23, 2021

The Bellwether League Foundation announced their sadness for longtime healthcare supply chain leader Jim Dickow, 78, who passed away peacefully in the hospital in Milwaukee on Sunday, April 18, after a four-month battle with cancer.

Jim Dickow was a stickler for detail and order. Given that Dickow began his career in the late 1960s as an engineer at McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft Inc., working to develop and simulate astronaut link-ups with an orbiting space station, his focus and emphasis on extensive and thorough analysis made sense. Those skills also certainly came in handy once he left the frontier of outer space for the confines of supply chain space in the healthcare industry in the early 1970s.

After spending more than a decade at Will Ross Inc.-Gentec Healthcare he dedicated the remainder of his career – more than 35 years – to management consulting via a variety of recognizable brands, including Kowalski-Dickow Associates (KDA), Amerinet, ServiceMaster, ARAMARK Healthcare and Lerch Bates. He concluded his four-decade run under his eponymous shingle, Dickow Consulting Group. During his final phase, Dickow collaborated on some projects with his KDA co-founder, Jamie Kowalski.

James F. Dickow served as a Founding Board member of Bellwether League Inc., the forerunner to Bellwether League Foundation. In those early years prior to his induction into the Bellwether Class of 2013, he functioned as the designated but unofficial parliamentarian of the Board, a skill he developed while a member of his fraternity at Purdue University. He made sure his fellow Board members followed Roberts Rules of Order and managed their frequent meetings with congressional aplomb.

Jamie Kowalski, Bellwether League Foundation Co-Founder and Board Secretary, represented one-half of the prominent hyphenated consulting firm he started with Dickow in 1984, Kowalski-Dickow Associates, and fondly remembered his long-time business partner.

“Jim was a smart, talented guy who was a mentor to many – hundreds of clients, dozens of staff – including me,” Kowalski recalled. “I’ll always be grateful for that. He opened the door for me to begin my career path and became my partner to help me with whatever success I – we – had. And he was a friend for over 40 years. God bless him.”

Kowalski followed Dickow into the Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership four years later.

With the emergence of managed care and reimbursement by diagnosis-related groups (DRGs) in 1983, Dickow decided to embark on a venture with someone he had hired at Will Ross. Kowalski had worked on Dickow’s team before taking a position in Marketing as Director of Hospital Systems. He then rejoined the provider supply chain segment at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital for the next three years. In 1981, he moved on to start the initial version of his consulting firm, Kowalski Associates.

Dickow would join with Kowalski two years later and work with his partner to take the newly minted Kowalski-Dickow Associates international as a healthcare-specialized supply chain management consulting firm. The duo dedicated the next two decades building the brand before selling the company to Amerinet Inc., which then sold it to ServiceMaster and finally to ARAMARK. During that time, KDA worked with more than 1,700 hospital clients and helped those clients generate more than $1 billion in cumulative savings.

After more than five years at Lerch Bates, Dickow decided the time was ripe to hang out his own shingle, launching Dickow Consulting Group in mid-2010, where he spent the remainder of his career. Throughout his career Dickow volunteered for a variety of organizations, including his alma mater Purdue University and his one social and two honorary fraternities, Phi Kappa Theta, Phi Eta Sigma and Pi Tau Sigma, respectively. He was an active member of several supply chain management professional groups, including AHRMM, and served as an expert editorial resource for such industry publications as Healthcare Purchasing News.

Dickow was preceded in death by his wife Yvonne who died in 2006 after 39 years of marriage. He is survived by his son Michael J. Dickow and daughter Christine Y.

Bellwether League Foundation has the release.