Life-Long Friends Share a Passion for Improving Lives | Steve Scalia
In 1984, a cross-country, family move brought Steve Scalia from the West Coast to North Carolina. On his first day at a new middle school, he met another quite adventurous young man by the name of Banks Bourne, and the two became fast friends. Unbeknownst to them, amid their far-fetched, childhood aspirations, the two were cultivating more than just a friendship. Nearly four decades later, a time-tested relationship blossomed into a working one too, with the two best friends collaborating in business. Banks as the CEO and Founder of Tanner Pharma Group, and his best friend Steve as the company’s President.
From childhood friends to entrepreneurial business partners, just the thought brings a smile to Steve’s face. Children imagine being friends forever, but for Steve that’s a reality and just another reason to be excited about work every day.
His long-term friendship with Banks gave him a unique vantage point into the inner workings of establishing and growing a business in the healthcare space. “I had a front row seat for him founding and launching the organization for the first nine years of the company’s existence,” he reminisces.
When Steve eventually came onboard in early 2011, his goal was to leverage the wisdom of Banks and the experience of the other impressive people already in the company, including Bill Taylor, Carolina Cortez and Maryori Alvarenga. He remembers the impact they had on him right from the start.
“I’ll never forget my first day. I spent the whole day asking them what they needed to grow the company. I listened and they already knew. We applied some fundamentals: goal setting, communication, and continuous improvement, in order to make the most out of the resources and ideas that they had. These fundamentals have remained as part of our foundation, and we’ve just advanced from there.”
One thing that impresses him most about the company is the growth, and more specifically how they have grown “organically.” They intentionally avoided the acquisition pathway, instead choosing to bring in the right people to do the best job possible and build the processes and culture from the ground level.
“We’ve always retained a strong sense of opportunism and entrepreneurialism in our spirit and in our core values, even as we’ve grown. We’re constantly looking for other areas of opportunity to be able to positively impact lives.”
The growth equation is simple: Tanner listens to its customers to identify needs that can be solved by its international access solutions. From there, the company determines whether the need aligns to a current commercial division or if a new one needs to be developed to execute most efficiently.
Steve knows firsthand, the company takes risks, most of which have paid off in the best way possible – enhancing patient access to life-changing medicines.
Over the years, Tanner has expanded both its footprint (now with six offices and 13 depots worldwide) and its reach (capable of delivering pharmaceuticals, investigational medical products and supplies to 193 countries). And while entrepreneurialism grows the business, the glue that holds everything together is Tanner’s focus on patient impact.
In addition to focusing on patients in need, Tanner spends a lot of time creating an exceptional workplace for its team. “We’re very intentional about the development of our culture and making Tanner the best place our Team Members have ever worked. If we can create a great workplace, then our team members are happy to support each other and in turn can better serve our partners and patients.”
As a whole, the Tanner team cares and “overcommunicates” all with the intent of building closeness and overcoming challenges. That’s what makes them friends. That’s what makes them family. Steve can’t say exactly what Tanner will look like in five years or beyond. But he foresees the company making a bigger impact and continuing to build its strong culture. All the while, enjoying the journey with a great Team and his best, childhood friend.