Sixty years ago, President Truman declared the start of the cold war. Bell Labs unveiled the transistor. Chuck Yeager pushed his aircraft to Mach 1. And, the first electric guitar was marketed. That's also the year that Gerald (Jerry) Jenner began his 38-year career in sales at Upjohn.
After earning his B.S. degree at the University of Illinois, Jerry launched his career as a pharmaceutical sales representative - calling on doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and a few veterinarians—with full intentions of leaving the company within a year to continue his education and become a veterinarian once the vet school opened. "Within months after I joined Upjohn, I knew that I would not be leaving to go to vet school at the U of I," recalls Jerry.
Considering himself the voice of The Upjohn Company in his territory, Jerry tried to live up to the company founder's motto—"Keep The Quality Up." Referring to that Jerry noted, "I still have that motto framed and hanging on the wall in front of my desk, along with three of my Upjohn Academy awards." Jerry is so proud of his team and their awards, that he invited the whole team to share in this spotlight on the 30th anniversary of their team award!
While at Upjohn, Jerry loved most the freedom he had to represent the company to the best of his ability. And his efforts were rewarded. Jerry became a District Manager and began developing people - a skill that later proved very successful for him and his protegees. When coaching colleagues and peers, Jerry reinforced the notion, "we could increase both the quality and quantity (years) of people's lives."
Also a trailblazer, Jerry embraced the changing times. When equal opportunity laws and regulations became mandatory and were being enforced, Jerry hired more minorities and women than most other district managers - which was quite an accomplishment because minorities at the time represented only 2% of the population.
Jerry went on to develop a wonderful relationship with one of his black representatives, Harold Tubbs, a teacher when he was hired. "Harold went on to get his Master's degree and his Ph.D. from Washington University while working full time and going to school after hours," said Jerry with pride. After he got his Ph. D., he went to work in research and development of new drugs with research institutions. "He did much for Upjohn research and development and best of all, he still keeps in touch with me every year since I, and now he, retired," said Jerry.
Jerry retired in 1985 from the St. Louis Area Sales Office, where he had been working as Western District Manager for 19 years. "Now that I'm retired, I like most the freedom to serve." Jerry is involved with Kiwanis, several Bond County groups, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and Mt. Nebo Primitive Baptist Church.
He is also an advocate for Pfizer. He recently helped notify his senators and representatives of his desire to have them refrain from interfering with Medicare Part D using the letter Pfizer provided on the retiree website. According to Jerry, "It is working and does not need legislative involvement."
Beyond that, Jerry has written several genealogical books. In his spare time, he keeps in touch with many former colleagues by email. "I do not see them as often as I would like, but we usually get together once a year; I have hosted reunions on several occasions since I retired."
Jerry has traveled around the world with his wife, Marti and to Europe with their four children. "There are a few places we have never been, but we are happy just to stay home. Fifteen of Jerry's 19 children and grandchildren live within ten miles. "We love to be with them and we have them all over for Sunday dinners almost every week," he noted.
What lies ahead? Jerry will stay active and involved. "My greatest fear is that I may run out of money before I run out of life," he quipped.
|1977 Upjohn Sales Academy Winners with top sales management: Standing (L-R) are Hoyt Gorrell, Dennis West and Jerry Jenner; seated (L-R) are Frank Fletcher, Reed B. Peterson, Louis Schroeter, Ph.D., and "Smokey" Rogers.
The managers on Jerry's team have all been married to the same woman for more than 50 years and they all served in the U.S. Armed forces during World War II. Here's a word from each member of this award winning sales team:
"We celebrated our 1977 Academy Award in early 1978 at the Doral Hotel-on-the-ocean, Miami Beach, Florida. The St. Louis Sales Area team (3 sales representatives, Hoyt Gorrell, Dave Jenne and Dennis West, and a District Manager) were among the 33 Academy appointees that year. I was selected as the District Manager from St. Louis Area and I was involved in hiring and training all three representatives from the St. Louis Area who were appointed to the Academy that year." - Jerry Jenner
"I took a transfer to be District Manager of the St. Louis Sales Area where Upjohn had a distribution center that served eastern Missouri, central and southern Illinois and Iowa. I was appointed area manager; our Sales Director was John Brawley. It was a very interesting time in the business with many new and innovative products and the inclusion of minorities and females into the work force. We had a marvelous, cooperative team and enjoyed a very free exchange of ideas. I am retired nearly 20 years, and am proud to be a part of Pfizer, a former competitor and a company with fine values." - Clyde Whitley
Click here to see Gerald Jenner's photo gallery.
"I was part of a tightly knit, innovative group. Our Area Manager, Clyde Whitley, had the kind of personality and management talents that helped us find, train, develop and promote highly productive and loyal salespeople, at a very challenging time, because of restrictions in who could be hired. Regional Sales Manager, John Brawley developed Ed Barnett and Clyde Whitley and trained Jerry Jenner, Don Fleming and me in how to non-judgmentally evaluate our personnel." - Bob Hughes
"One of the things that I felt was important about our team was our priorities. Concern for patients came first, concern for doctors and pharmacists came second, and concern for the Upjohn Company came third. If we got all that right, we were doing our jobs well and we knew that we would be taken care of." - Don Fleming