Larry Gerdes, a native of Walnut, was named to the Academy of Alumni Fellows by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business for his professional achievement during the 50th annual Alumni Awards Gala on April 27 at the Art Institute in Chicago.
“For 50 years, the Kelley School has been honoring alumni who have excelled in their professional lives and who help promote Kelley’s culture of collaboration and support,” said Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management. “With nearly 115,000 living alumni, it’s a formidable network.”
Gerdes received a Master of Business Administration from Kelley in 1974 and spent his career building startup companies.
He has invested in, and in some cases been a board member and CEO of, more than 60 startups predominately on the West Coast. Many of these companies have gone public.
Gerdes is chairman and CEO of Pursuant Health, an Atlanta-based health care data and services company.
Gerdes received his undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois in 1971. Upon graduation, he was given a graduate assistantship at the Indiana Graduate School of Business (now the Kelley School of Business) where he worked with Donald Sauer, a noted finance professor at Indiana University.
Sauer helped Gerdes secure summer internships in a Peoria regional bank during graduate school, and he eventually returned to the bank as a commercial lending officer after graduating in 1974.
Within two years, Gerdes had an opportunity to establish a loan facility for a startup company called HBO & Co. In 1977, Gerdes left the bank to become CFO of this startup, moving to Atlanta and helping to facilitate a successful public offering in 1981.
HBO, which grew to become one of the country’s leading health care IT companies, was sold to McKesson for $13 billion in 2000.
Gerdes and HBO’s founder left the company in 1990 to start an investment partnership, Gerdes Huff Investments. Gerdes became chairman and CEO of one of the firm’s early acquisitions, a small consulting firm in Atlanta (later named Transcend Services) that grew from under $1 million in revenue to $135 million before being sold to Nuance Corp. in 2012. Transcend achieved the second highest three-year shareholder return for all public companies in the U.S. with under $200 million of revenue (2006-08).
Gerdes was formerly a member of the Kelley Dean’s Advisory Council (now an ambassador) and is on the board of trustees of Monmouth College, Monmouth. He also serves on the board of directors as lead director for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, having previously served as a director at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Gerdes is also a board member of the Citizens First State Bank of Walnut and is co-owner of Walnut Custom Components LLC in Walnut.
Gerdes has also had board involvement in nonprofit organizations. He served for 11 years, two as chairman, of the Tommy Nobis Center in Atlanta, an organization that has provided more than 30,000 disabled individuals with job training and employment opportunities in its 35-year history.
In addition, Gerdes was a founding board member for the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation, an organization focused on developing leadership skills in outstanding high school student athletes. He has made significant contributions to the Kelley School undergraduate and graduate facilities, the University of Illinois College of Agriculture (ACES), the University of Illinois Athletic Department, and his undergraduate fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho.
Gerdes and his wife of 46 years, Ann, live in Atlanta, as do their two daughters, Lindsey and Leslie, both graduates of Stanford University.