Business: Traveling Man Hal Rosenbluth’s Next Act

After selling his family’s iconic Philly travel business, Rosenbluth is busy with his latest big idea: trying to make getting health care as easy as visiting your local Wawa

“Is this car going to explode?” wonders Hal Rosenbluth, steering a rented beige Cadillac down Highway 840 outside of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on a blazingly hot July afternoon. A weird metallic clink is emanating from the Caddy’s dashboard, but Rosenbluth is pretty sure the car will hold together for the 18-mile ride from a local airport to the operations center of Take Care Health Systems in nearby Franklin. Take Care is the chain of quick-care, no-appointment-needed clinics and corporate health centers that Rosenbluth, who is 58, co-founded in 2004 and sold to drugstore giant Walgreens in 2007.

But Rosenbluth, who these days has the title of president of health and wellness at Walgreens, isn’t your typical corporate executive rattling around in a sketchy rental car. He was born into the vaunted Philadelphia travel-agency clan, and he helped transform the family business into a behemoth — the second-largest travel company in the world when Rosenbluth sold it to American Express in 2003.

Since Rosenbluth Travel was reportedly valued at $350 million at the time of its sale, Hal Rosenbluth can afford to not be working at Walgreens. For instance, he flew to Murfreesboro this morning in his Hawker 900, a jet that retails for about $15 million. Rosenbluth isn’t one for the trappings of wealth — while he lives in a large house in Gladwyne, he likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and his idea of dressing up is pulling on a freshly shined pair of cowboy boots. But the truth is, he often flies to several cities in one day and doesn’t have time to wait in airport security lines. The plane is merely the means to quickly get him where he needs to go, and Rosenbluth, who’s soft-spoken, thoughtful and polite, is a little embarrassed to mention that he has one.

Rosenbluth does some quick meetings at headquarters, then decides — since he has 10 extra minutes in his schedule and the car hasn’t blown up — to stop in at the Take Care clinic at the local Franklin Walgreens.

“Hi, y’all, how you doin’ today?” chirps the cashier, a perky blond woman in her 50s. This is a bit shocking, since cashiers at Philly-area drugstores sometimes seem to be barely awake, or are often engrossed in heated cell-phone arguments with their boyfriends that prevent them from ringing up your aspirin. Rosenbluth explains that this chipper greeting isn’t simply native Southern hospitality, but mandated friendliness: “It’s our new customer-service initiative,” he says, striding past aisles of flip-flops and suntan lotion.

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  • Rolf

    As a North Dakota resident and business acquaintance of Hal’s, I can’t say enough wonderful things about him. Hal has brought hundreds (thousands?) of jobs to North Dakota and has helped us through some very tough times. Hal’s benevolence will never be forgotten in North Dakota. Hal is a wonderful person.