About IMDA

IMDA is an association of entrepreneurial sales, marketing and distribution organizations that specialize in bringing innovative medical technologies to market. The association helps its members improve their businesses through education and networking opportunities and raises the awareness of others in the health care community as to the value its members bring them.


To establish independent medical sales and marketing companies as the recognized and preferred choice for bringing innovative medical technologies to market.


To advance the business interests of independent medical sales and marketing companies.

Value Proposition

Membership in IMDA helps specialty sales and marketing companies gain profitable lines and improve their business practices.

What is specialty sales and marketing?

IMDA members focus on one thing -- bringing truly innovative technologies to health care providers. We can do so quicker and more cost-effectively than manufacturers themselves. How?

  • Our members enjoy long-standing relationships with the clinicians in their territories, so that when we take on a product, it will find its way to key decision-makers in days.
  • Our salespeople are technically sophisticated, so they aren't afraid to talk shop with doctors, nurses, department heads and materials managers about the technologies they represent.
  • We take care of our manufacturers' inservicing needs, customer service, and inventory hassles, while working with you to market your product in the most effective way possible.
  • We support our manufacturers through aggressive telemarketing campaigns, direct-mail advertising, market research and product exhibits at regional and national medical conventions.
  • Simply put, we offer enhanced value to clinical decision-makers -- and to our principals.

If you manufacture commodities, call on a general-line distributor or manufacturers rep. But if your product is truly innovative, call an IMDA member.


1978. It was five years prior to DRGs. Jimmy Carter was president. Jack Nicklaus was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. John Belushi starred as Bluto in "Animal House."

The owners of a group of 11 medical distributors carrying one manufacturer's orthopedic products were concerned that the manufacturer was preparing to terminate all of them and go direct.

Under the leadership of Ron Lawson, owner of Professional Orthopedics Inc., they invited an attorney from Pennsylvania -- Mitchell Kramer -- to meet with them in Chicago to discuss the situation. An experienced litigator, Kramer had met with success in a number of high-profile antitrust cases, including one against several big manufacturers of gypsum wallboard.

"Ron walked into my office and told me about the meeting being planned in Chicago," recalls Kramer, who is IMDA's legal counsel today. "He said, 'We have no money; we're thinking of setting up an association; would you come to Chicago for this meeting -- at your own expense?' I was intrigued, so I said yes," says Kramer.

At the meeting, the distributors agreed to form the Independent Medical Distributors Association (now IMDA)

IMDA quickly grew beyond its original objective -- that is, to stave off terminations by the manufacturer. "It was never meant to be simply self-protective," says Kramer. "It was intended to be a specialty medical distribution organization." And the organization quickly grew into just that.

Frank Bistrom -- who, with his wife, Betchie, managed the association from its inception until 2003 -- recalls an incident at the very first meeting that hinted at the value members could derive from their new organization.

"During one of the sessions, somebody at the back of the room said, 'We charge for deliveries,'" recalls Bistrom. "The whole room went still. Nobody else had been doing that. But that was the whole idea -- to talk about how they operated their businesses." At the next meeting one year later, a member reported he had added thousands of dollars to his bottom line because of that one remark from the back of the room a year before.

The association took off from there. Kramer spoke at the earliest meetings -- as he does today -- about how distributors can craft fair and equitable contracts with manufacturers. Members shared ideas on how to improve their businesses. For example, Ron Lawson told his peers that he had hired a sales manager and office manager to take some of the load off him, so he could focus on growing his business. "He convinced [the others] that they had to spend money to make money, and that if they were tying themselves up with paperwork, they were losing their [sales] effectiveness in the field," says Bistrom.

Lawson served as IMDA's first president, followed by Bill Abbott and then Ernie Douglass, owner of Douglass Medical in Raleigh, NC. In 1994, IMDA established the Ernie Douglass Award, to recognize a person in the health care industry who exhibits support and encouragement of associates, a willingness to share his or her business and distribution knowledge, and professional salesmanship and ethics in business. (See below for a list of recipients.)

IMDA has indeed grown beyond its original mission. For example, manufacturers can now join the association as allied members. In addition, IMDA has a monthly newsletter, a systematic way of alerting members to potential new lines, and a Manufacturers Forum at every Annual Conference.

But one thing hasn't changed: IMDA's commitment to helping its members advance the science and the art of bringing innovative medical technologies to market.

Past IMDA Presidents

1979-80: Ron Lawson, Professional Orthopedics
1980-81: Bill Abbott, Ormed Inc.
1981-82: Ernie Douglass, Douglass Medical Inc.
1982-83: Wayne Hohn, Waymar Surgi-Tech Inc.
1983-84: Jim Duncan, Duncan Orthopedics.
1984-85: Lew Lewis, Alpha Med Inc.
1985-86: John Ahern, Surgical Specialties Instrument Co.
1986-87: Mike Wild, Re-De Equipment Co.
1987-88: Bob Hawley Jr., Ortho-Medic Inc.
1988-89: Ed Boracchia, Boracchia + Associates, Petaluma, CA
1989-90: Butch Lawhon, Products for Surgery, Fort Worth, TX
1990-91: Barry Foy, Britton Medical Inc.
1991-92: Bob Butterworth, Bimeco Inc.
1992-93: Chuck Horvath, Trace Medical
1993-95: Les Matthews, Medical Marketing Inc.
1995-97: Steve Picheny, Stepic Medical, Long Island City, NY
1997-98: Barry Foy, Gevi-Med
1998-99: Marvin Marks, MegaTech Medical, Baltimore, MD
1999-2000: Ralph Yaffe, Precision Surgical, Memphis, TN
2000-01: Duke Johns, Medical Specialties, New Orleans, LA
2001-02: Richard Manley, CVC Inc., Arlington, TX
2002-03: Dave Campbell, Vital/Med Systems, Castle Rock, CO
2003-05: Bob Wahlenmaier, Products for Surgery, Scottsdale, AZ
2005-07: Ed Boracchia, Boracchia + Associates, Petaluma, CA
2007-09: Shawn Walker, Bay State Anesthesia, North Andover, MA
2009-11: Kevin Trout, Grandview Medical Resources, Bridgeville, PA
2011-13: Tony Marmo, Martab Medical, Mahwah, NJ
2013-15: Hal Freehling, O.E. Meyer Company, Sandusky, OH
2015-??: Don Sizemore, D&D Medical Inc, Goodlettsville, TN

Recipients of the Ernie Douglass Award

Named after IMDA's third president, the Ernie Douglass Award recognizes a person in the health care industry who exhibits support and encouragement of associates, a willingness to share his or her business and distribution knowledge, and professional salesmanship and ethics in business.

1994: John Ahern, The Specialties Group.
1995: Frank and Betchie Bistrom, executive directors of IMDA.
1997: Ron Lawson, Professional Orthopedics Inc.
1999: Steve Picheny, Stepic Medical.
2002: Duke Johns, Medical Specialties.
2004: Dave Campbell, Vital/Med Systems.
2006: Bob Wahlenmaier, Products for Surgery.
2008: Ed Boracchia, Boracchia + Associates.
2009: Shawn Walker, Bay State Anesthesia.
2011: Kevin Trout, Grandview Medical Resources
2012: Mitchell Kramer, Kramer & Kramer LLP
2013: Mark Thill, IMDA Communications Director
2014: Tony Marmo, Martab Medical

Recipients of the Manufacturers Partnership Award

The Manufacturers Partnership Award recognizes a manufacturer who works particularly well with IMDA members to increase sales of innovative technology, through first-class training, field sales support, clinical studies, outstanding terms and conditions, etc.

2007: Vidacare
2008: Oridion Capnography
2011: Mercury Medical
2015: Pulmodyne, Inc.

Sites of Past IMDA Annual Conferences

1981: Hyatt Del Monte, Monterrey, CA (June 1-5)
1982: The Westin, Chicago (May 12-15)
1983: Frenchman's Reef, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (Dec. 1-4)
1984: La Mansion Del Rio, San Antonio, TX (Nov. 29-Dec. 2)
1985: Dorado Beach Hotel, Dorado, Puerto Rico (Nov. 30-Dec. 4)
1986: InterContinental Wailea, Maui, HI (Dec. 3-7)
1987: Marriott's Casa Marina, Key West, FL (Dec. 2-6)
1988: San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina, San Diego, CA (Nov. 30-Dec. 4)
1989: Marriott's Frenchman Reef Resort, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (Dec. 1-5)
1990: Stouffers Esmeralda Resort, Palm Springs, CA (Nov. 28-Dec. 2)
1992: Marriott Casa Magna, Cancun, Mexico (Jan. 22-26)
1993: Hyatt Regency Waikoloa, HI (Jan. 16-20)
1994: Marriott's Casa Marina, Key West, FL (Jan. 19-23)
1995: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, AZ (Jan. 25-29)
1996: The Westin Carambola Beach Resort, St. Croix, Virgin Islands (Jan. 24-27)
1997: Sheraton Grande Torrey Pines, La Jolla, CA (Jan. 22-26)
1998: The Westin Carambola Beach Resort, St. Croix, Virgin Islands (Jan. 28-Feb. 1)
1999: The SunBurst Resort, Scottsdale, AZ (Jan. 20-24)
2000: The Charleson Place Hotel, Charleston, SC (Jan. 26-30)
2001: Renaissance Esmeralda Resort, Indian Wells, CA (Jan. 17-21)
2001: The Registry Resort, Naples, FL (June 20-24)
2002: The Omni Tucson Golf Resort & Spa, Tucson, AZ (June 19-23)
2003: Stein Eriksen Lodge, Upper Deer Valley, UT (May 27-31)
2004: Marco Island Marriott Resort, Marco Island, FL (June 23-26)
2005: Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA (June 8-11)
2006: Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC (June 7-10)
2007: Coeur d'Alene Resort, Coeur d'Alene, ID (June 3-5)
2008: The Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, IL (June 8-10)
2009: Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC (June 14-16)
2010: Keystone Resort, Keystone, CO (May 16-18)
2011: Omni La Mansion del Rio Hotel, San Antonio, TX (June 12-14)
2012: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville, TN (April 29-May 1)
2013: Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL (June 9-11)
2014: Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, AZ (May 4-6)
2015: Chase Park Plaza, St Louis, MO (May 3-5)