Money Talk

Episode 75

Stephen L. Ferguson, Esq.

Stephen L. Ferguson, Esq., is chairman of the Board of Cook Incorporated, a Bloomington, Indiana based privately held manufacturer of medical devices. Since deceased Bill Cook and his surviving spouse, Gayle, formed Cook in 1963 with a $1,500 investment. It now manufacturers more than 16,000 products used in over 42 medical specialties, employs 12,500 individuals world wide in 17 locations in 4 continents. Its sales exceed $1.7 billion; the $1,500 investment is now worth approximately $6 billion. Steve, a 1963 graduate of Wabash College, with distinction, and a 1966 graduate of Indiana University School of Law, with honors, was a member of the Indiana General Assembly from 1967 to 1974. Steve describes Bill Cook’s unusual and focused hiring philosophy: Phyllis McCullough, a since retired president, joined Cook as a receptionist/secretary; Kemp Hawkins, its current president, was the band director at the local high school; and April Lavender, its current vice president for regulatory affairs, is a high school graduate. Bill, a native of Canton, Illinois, the newest location for a more than $15 million Cook investment shall create more than 300 jobs. Bill urged his colleagues to “…think out of the box,” to “be friendly but not become a friend” and a person “learns a business in business and not in school.” Both Bill, to the tune of more than $500 million, and Steve have shared their enviable economic success with various charities and economic development activities, including the restoration of the West Baden Springs Hotel and the French Lick Casino.

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