SPBT is saddened to announce that its founder Salvatore
"Sal” Barilla passed away in his hometown of Sierra Madre, California on June
28. We honor Sal for his passion and
perseverance in creating SPBT, and for serving as our first president.
Sal broke boundaries when - as a sales trainer for
Burroughs-Wellcome - he acted on a vision and for the first time brought
together industry trainers to collaborate for professional development. He recruited 12 trainers to shape the
organization that was then called the National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales
Trainers (NSPST). Under Sal’s
leadership, NSPST grew significantly and eventually changed its name to be more
inclusive of all life science trainers.
"There is fierce competition in the industry,” Barilla once said
when reflecting on the Society’s conception.
"There was always a concern about us getting together. There was never any concern once anybody got
in the organization. We talked about
problems and exchanged experiences. We
compared programs; it was of great value to us.
We never discussed anything that was of a confidential nature. It was just how to be a better educator.”
Sal’s industry leadership was particularly instrumental when
in 1972 Senator Edward Kennedy held Congressional Hearings on the
qualifications and veracity of pharmaceutical representatives. At only one year old, the Society gained
notoriety through these Hearings as Sal led the charge to show that
pharmaceutical sales representatives are an important part of health care
"I think we created sensitivity among us that the sales reps
had to have a well-rounded education, and they had to be of value to the
physician,” Barilla later remarked. "A rep had to be more than just a pitch
person. He or she had to know
technology, business ethics, and financial aspects of the medical field.”
Sal was inducted into the SPBT Hall of Fame in 2004 to which
he said, "Receiving the Hall Of Fame Award was a real honor, and an
experience I will always remember. It's
so gratifying to see what has become of the Society that I gave birth to back
in 1971. The vision I had back then has been realized many times over…I'd like
to thank all of the officers and members, past and present, for helping make my
dream a reality."
After a long and successful career in pharmaceutical sales
and training management, Barilla co-founded CMS, a meeting services
company. He is survived by his wife of
54 years, 14 grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and two sisters and a brother
in Long Island, NY.
SPBT is grateful to the man that inspired our organization
and its work for the last four decades.
Sal Barilla’s founding values of collaboration, integrity, and
determination will always serve as the cornerstone of the