New Patterson Cos. CEO Mark Walchirk got a chance this week to meet and recognize the work of some valuable Patterson employees at the Nasdaq Opening Bell ceremony on Tuesday.

Nasdaq invited the Mendota Heights-based Patterson to ring the opening bell Tuesday to commemorate their 140 years as a company and 25 years as a public company.

Patterson, a value-added distributor to the animal health and dental markets, decided to bring 15 employees to the ceremony. They invited employees to nominate worthy coworkers for spots on the stage. A company spokesperson said 400 people were nominated from a broad cross section of business groups and regions.

The 15 winners flew into New York on Monday and attended a welcome dinner with Walchirk and other executives. After the Opening Bell ceremony, the Patterson crew were to spend a little time in New York together and attend a show before flying back home.

Walchirk was named CEO in October and officially started on Nov. 20. Walchirk, was most recently with McKesson Corp. where he served as president of the company’s U.S. Pharmaceuticals business. He was hired to replace Scott Anderson - who stepped down June 1st - and to relieve Jim Wiltz, retired CEO and Patterson board member, who served as interim CEO while the board searched for a new CEO.

 During Walchirk’s first week on the job he oversaw the company’s 2nd quarter conference call and told analysts he would embark on a 90-day transition plan to learn about the company’s customers, business model and employees.

Walchirk got a jump-start on that project with the 15 employees chosen for the Opening Bell event. They will be able to meet Walchirk and give him first hand feedback on the important work and projects they have been recognized for during the previous year.

Despite slack performance of its stock price recently, since going public on October 29, 1992 Patterson has a total return of more than 2,000 percent, or total annualized return of 12.8 percent.

Patterson is the latest Minnesota public company to participate in a Nasdaq Bell ceremony. Earlier this year Fastenal Co., Capella Education, Calyxt Inc. and Tactile Systems Technology Inc. all participated. The opening and closing bell ceremonies are a privilage for Nasdaq listed companies and certain guests of the exchange.

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