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In Memoriam, SPBT Founder Sal Barilla

  In Memoriam
  SPBT Founder Sal Barilla

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 delivery.

"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 Society.

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