Tyler & Company — 35 years and still in tune (the first decade)


I have been asked to write a brief summary of a company that spans three and a half decades. For me, that should be an easy task, but it isn’t. So much has happened over that time period that it all runs together in my mind. In addition, the changes in the firm parallel the changes in a very active period in healthcare.

Our first decade

In 1978, I joined a firm called Coker Associates as a consultant for the executive search division, which consisted of me. Five months after joining Coker, Jack Coker walked in and asked if I wanted to buy the firm. I had a decision to make that took me two weeks to ponder. While I’d been rather successful in those first five months, I had not really thought about being on my own. Also, I had my eye on a Yamaha grand piano, and it was going to cost as much as opening a business. After some contemplation, I decided to buy the business AND the piano. The firm still is going strong, and the piano continues to get played in my living room.

During the first decade, hospitals were still growing thanks to cost-based reimbursement. New hospitals were springing up left and right, and the for-profit chains were a major part of that growth. Our first five years in operation were fueled by Charter Medical in Macon, Ga. It was growing dramatically, and we did nearly all of its search work.

The next five years saw the firm’s growth fueled by the addition of AMI as a client. We once conducted 22 searches in six months. AMI’s Southeastern division, located in Atlanta, was its most profitable, and we were the primary source of talent.

Non-profit hospitals started to become our clients, beginning with St. Mary’s in Athens, Ga. Most of our assignments were in the finance and accounting areas because of my finance background.

Eventually, we began to recruit for CEO searches as well. Our first CEO search was for Charter’s flagship psychiatric hospital, Peachford, in Atlanta. For AMI, we conducted many CEO as well as CFO searches.

Our newsletter, Tyler’s Tidbits, launched in 1982. It has come a long way from its early days when it was black and white, actually typewritten (on a typewriter!), copied and mailed. “Truisms” were featured in the first edition and took up a whole page. I figured that if no one read the newsy sections of the publication, they would enjoy a good laugh by reading the “Truisms” column.

In 1983, we decided to enter the physician search business. Robin Singleton became the head of that business and it eventually accounted for half of our revenue. As hospitals started buying physician practices, the physician recruitment business became difficult.

Thus, we exited and moved the majority of the consultants into executive search. Nevertheless, the initiatives we had started in physician leadership continue to this day.

Tyler & Company also was an early adopter of technology. Our first computers were IBM Selectric typewriters, which could hold 10 pages in memory. When more powerful computers came on the scene, we bought the Tandy 2000 from Radio Shack. Our software was Open Access, one of the first Suite programs, giving us database, spread sheet and word processing in one package.

We published our first article November 1980 in Georgia State University’s State of Business magazine. “What do you do when the headhunter comes calling?” made the cover, and a copy of that front page still adorns my den.

By 1983, the world began to change with the introduction of DRGs. (“Diagnosis Related Groups” for those who are younger!) The world of DRGs meant that all hospitals had to work more efficiently and cost effectively. As an example, AMI cut out first-class travel for its regional executives.

By the end of the first decade, Tyler & company had evolved with the changes in the industry and continued to thrive.

Over the course of 2013, read Tyler’s reflections about the next two and one-half decades of Tyler & Company’s history as the company celebrates its 35th anniversary.

Reach J. Larry Tyler, FACHE, FHFMA, FAAHC, CMPE, Chairman and CEO, at +1 770 396 3939 or ltyler@tylerandco.com.