Richard H. Friedman is chairman and chief executive officer of MIM Corporation, a specialty pharmaceutical and benefit fulfillment organization that partners with healthcare providers and sponsors to control prescription drug costs.
Mr. Friedman joined MIM as chief operating and financial officer in 1996. He was instrumental in taking the company public in August 1996, an offering that yielded $47 million. In May of 1998, he assumed the role of chief executive officer and was elected chairman of the board of directors.
Before joining MIM Corporation, Mr. Friedman served as the chief financial officer for Zenith Laboratories Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of generic drugs. Under his guidance, Zenith reached its highest levels of profitability. In connection with its financial success, the company's stock rose from approximately $11 per share to $90 per share from 1992 to1994. Mr. Friedman was a leading member of the team that orchestrated Zenith's sale to IVAX, yielding Zenith's shareholders in excess of $600 million.
Prior to joining Zenith, Mr. Friedman held a variety of senior finance positions including vice president and chief financial officer of Goldline Laboratories, a distributor and manufacturer of generic drugs, and senior vice president and chief financial officer for Publicker Industries, an alcohol and chemical manufacturing company. He began his career as an accountant with Arthur Young & Company.
Mr. Friedman is a CPA and he earned his BBA in accounting from Pace University.
"You could go work for a large corporation and be very comfortable, or you can have some fun and be creative in determining how to guide a company out of its problems towards profitability," Richard H. Friedman, '73, chairman and chief executive officer of MIM Corporation and the Lubin School's Executive in Residence on November 15, 2001, commented in one of his lectures to students. Friedman spent the day on the Pleasantville and White Plains campuses, where he discussed with students and faculty experiences and challenges he faced along the way to his current successes at MIM Corporation. "I decided early on in my career that I wanted to participate in strategies to grow a business," he revealed to several finance and marketing classes.
Richard H. Friedman talking with a student following one of his lectures at Lubin.
Having Things Click
Richard H. Friedman came to Pace University's Pleasantville campus in 1970 as a transfer student who wanted to play on the Varsity Baseball team and be a Phys-Ed major. "They told me there was no such program (phys-ed), so the first thing I picked up was accounting and became an accounting major," he says of the little thought he gave initially to choosing his major. Ironically, this off-hand decision ultimately determined the direction of his career. He graduated from the Lubin School in 1973 with a BBA in accounting.
"When I started at Arthur Young and Company I did not really know what a Certified Public Accountant's (CPA) functions were, but I soon realized that getting certified became your ticket to play," Friedman confessed. "I remember studying for the CPA exam and all of a sudden a light went on and things started to click. I could connect what I learned at Pace with the practical work of accounting and the CPA exam. I needed to see and experience the field in order to figure out the application," he recalled in talking about translating the theory of academia into the practical business world of real experiences.
Evolution of the Curriculum Hits Home
"It is evident that today's graduates are better prepared than I was because of the integration of theory and practice in the curriculum. In the seventies I believe they trained you to pass the CPA exam, but today's graduates appear to be well rounded and better prepared to contribute immediately to an organization," Friedman said. He said he didn't have to look far for this improvement other than to his son Scott, a recent Lubin graduate who majored in marketing. "Initially, I wanted him to work on Wall Street, but hiring him has been a blessing because his ability to understand both accounting and business helped him to contribute immediately," he said.
A CFO at Twenty-Eight
"I was really lucky because I was twenty-eight years old and became the CFO of a NYSE company, and it wasn't because of my experience, it just happened that I was in the right place at the right time," he recounted modestly of his first top management opportunity that came with Publicker Industries. "What I really liked was that the company was nearly bankrupt and they really needed to change their business model," he said, reflecting on his first challenge of turning a struggling company around, something that has continued throughout his career. It was at Publicker where he learned one of the most important lessons of his life and one that he said would help him as he brought value to those companies that had lost all of theirs. "I was forced to step up and the most important thing I learned at the time was never be afraid to say 'I don't know.' Ask questions and make sure the answers make sense."
The Challenges of MIM Corp.
Following a stint at Goldline Laboratories followed by Zenith Laboratories, where he helped steer the company back onto the path of profitability from a position of bankruptcy and saw it's common shares rise from $13 to $90 (before stock splits), Friedman was introduced to the world of Pharmacy Benefit Management (otherwise known as PBM) in 1996 when he joined MIM Corporation as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. He volunteered that he felt one of his greatest achievements early on was taking the company public and raising $47 million in its initial public offering (IPO). "This company was losing a fortune at the time and we were able to raise a tremendous amount of money in the IPO," he said with sincere astonishment.
Following some turmoil within the organization that saw a major shift in power caused by a federal investigation of the practices of the founder of MIM, Friedman took control. "At that time we had to sit back and say, "Who are we? What are we going to do? What are the assets of the company? And how can we use these assets as a base for the future?" he forthrightly said of the introspective evaluation the management had to do in order to begin MIM's climb up to the amazing success they enjoy currently.
Friedman was recently profiled in January on CNBC's "Market Watch" because MIM Corporation had the second best performing stock for 2001. "Our model today is leveraging the relationships we have with our health care customers to continue to grow our specialty pharmaceutical business, and utilizing our distribution facilities to efficiently manage the chronically ill," he says as he looks to the future. "Health care is one of the greatest industries to be in. Skyrocketing drug costs and pharmacy utilization will help fuel constant increases," he said in closing his talk. Who could argue with that or the fact that the stock has more than doubled since his visit to Lubin on November 15, 2001 to it's January 22, 2002 close of $20.61.