Kansas City Business Journal Cover Story: The Cerner Way

We at Associated Industries of Missouri are extremely proud of our association with our Chairman’s Council member Cerner. The company is the topic of what’s looks to be a very flattering cover story in the print version of the Kansas City Business Journal, out Friday June 3. Unfortunately, that’s a subscription-only publication, so we will publish what the KCBJ has put out on its internet web site. It will then be up to you if you want to go ahead and subscribe to the print version of the publication.

From the Kansas City Business Journal

What started over a picnic table in Loose Park has grown into the behemoth that is Cerner Corp.

But if you think the health IT company’s influence is limited to its 11,500 (eventually to be 27,500) area employees or its six (soon to be seven) campuses, think again.

Cerner ex-pats have flowed out into the broader business world, carrying with them what’s called the “Cerner way.” They are infusing this culture and ethos in the companies they now have started or lead.

Subscribers can see just what that means in reporter Dora Grote’s centerpiece for the June 3 weekly print edition. Click here to see how the “Cerner way” manifests itself in companies throughout Kansas City.

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Inside the cover story: Tracing the roots of the Cerner family tree

By Dora Grote, reporter, Kansas City Business Journal

My family tree, like most, traces back to my grandparents, their parents and their grandparents before that. Generations are added as time goes on, and there’s never a time when my family tree will be complete. Because I’m the youngest of five, I already have nieces and nephews.

This seems fairly obvious, yes, but it’s this concept that sparked my idea for this week’s centerpiece.

I keep close tabs on Cerner Corp. It’s hard not to when you look at its size and its grassroots success. The company is now the largest private-sector employer in the Kansas City area and is climbing toward revenue of $5 billion. The North Kansas City health IT company has continued to sink investment into its hometown not only with jobs, but by revitalizing neighborhoods with its economic development. Cerner is building its seventh area campus — a $4.5 billion project in south Kansas City.

But I’ve found that Cerner’s reach goes far beyond stats. Cerner constantly weaves into conversations with sources and interviews, frequently by accident. Perhaps someone formerly worked at Cerner or had CEO Neal Patterson and Vice Chairman Cliff Illig as mentors, for example. This kept occurring, so I finally decided to start tracing where those Cerner employees have gone.

You’d be amazed at the number of companies and entrepreneurs that have ties to Cerner.

Through speaking with dozens of Cerner employees (former ones, too), another thing struck me: There’s a sense of dedication, commitment and vision that’s very evident in everyone who works there or who previously worked there.

And that all started with the three founders. I got a chance to speak with Illig about that “Cerner way.” Illig was humble about Cerner’s rippling effects on the area and said the company is “standing on the shoulders of those who came before” it.

Although the timing prevented me from speaking speak with Patterson, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, I learned enough about the CEO that I can understand how he’s led the company to success through his driven mindset.

In the weekly print edition out on Friday, I dive into the stories of four former Cerner employees who now are running or leading companies of their own. I catch up with Illig, and I put into perspective just how far Cerner’s reach goes beyond its current employees.

But just like my family tree, Cerner’s will never be complete. It will keep growing from the thousands of employees who will travel through the company … and take what they’ve learned with them to their next stop.

Dora reports on health care, life sciences and publicly traded technology companies.