Editor’s note: As part of the 40th anniversary of McKnight’s, McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News are recognizing 40 notable newsmakers. Each week, the brands will highlight a new, high-profile leader from the past four decades. Previously published installments of the series are posted here.

The McKnight’s brand may be familiar to many in the field today. That’s somewhat ironic, as the man behind it never expected to be a publisher.

Boiled down, the late William M. “Bill” McKnight Jr. was a gregarious, smart salesman with a keen eye for opportunity. While working for American Hospital Supply Corp. (now Baxter), he saw an unmet need: Medical distributors were having a difficult time finding useful industry information.

So along with his wife, Dede, he launched Medical Product Sales magazine in 1969. That was followed by monthly publications for hospital purchasers and pharmaceutical sales reps. Finally, a publication for the nursing home field made its debut in 1980.

The rest may be history, but that history hardly was a smooth ride — especially early on, when his nursing home magazine’s future was very much in doubt. For years, Today’s Nursing Home was the proverbial runt of a four-magazine litter. The publication was rebranded as McKnight’s Long-Term Care News in 1990 and struggled for several more years but eventually gained its momentum and secured its spot atop the market.

As the decade progressed, the brand’s reputation as an honest broker and an early adopter began paying dividends. McKnight’s Long-Term Care News took the lead in surveying readers, offering webcasts, daily news and more, while also earning scores of publishing and journalism honors. Readers and advertisers took notice. By around 1996, it had already become the market’s big dog. McKnight’s now also has a footprint in the senior living, clinical care and home care sectors.

Bill McKnight died peacefully in 2012, following a quiet retirement spent between his homes in Illinois and Arizona.

He left an enviable publishing legacy: media brands that deliver impartial, fair and accurate reporting on matters that matter. It’s a standard that those of us who follow in his footsteps endeavor to meet each day.