Rotary Person of the Year 2017
Congratulations to Bob Hillis

The founder, president, and CEO of Direct Supply is a remarkably successful business leader.  Bob Hillis is a pioneer in virtual distribution and an enthusiastic entrepreneur.  And, he is the Rotary Club of Milwaukee’s 2017 Person of the Year.


Direct Supply was founded in Milwaukee in 1985 and has grown to be the leading provider of equipment, eCommerce and service solutions for senior living. The company says it helps build, equip, and improve operations at senior living communities across the country.  It is an employee-owned company with headquarters on Milwaukee’s northwest side where more than one thousand people work.


Bob attributes some of his accomplishments to luck and hard work.  But a significant portion of Direct Supply’s success is a result of a strong commitment to the company’s five principles.  They are: treat employees as partners, provide outrageous customer service, commit to quality, excellence and integrity, and strive to lead the industry in return on investment.

In a laudatory article, business leader John Torinus noted Bob’s appreciation of mentors.  Direct Supply had a number of important advisers in its early stages, and the article quotes Bob as saying:


“You better have a lot of friends because you don’t have all the answers yourself.”


The Rotary Person of the Year award is a unique honor that focuses on the professional accomplishments of the award winner. Rather than celebrating civic or philanthropic achievements, this award recognizes the winner’s work.


The purpose of this award is also to highlight the second objective of Rotary: to foster high ethical standards in business and professions, to recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations, and to dignify each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society.


Through his profession, Bob has made the Milwaukee community a better place to live and work. As a virtual distributor and technology provider, Direct Supply could be located anywhere.  Bob is making sure the company’s future is in Milwaukee.


Without interruption he maintains an entrepreneurial approach within Direct Supply where new business units are periodically added. Within the last year, he joined the Governor and the Mayor in an announcement of even more growth ahead for Direct Supply’s including a new 280-thousand square foot building on the company’s Milwaukee campus.


Celebrate Bob Hillis with us at Rotary on Tuesday, May 23rd as we honor him as our 2017 Rotary Person of the Year.