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2011 Revisited: Guy Bradshaw Success Story

Editor’s Note: The announcement of In’Tech Medical acquiring Bradshaw Medical reminded us of our 2011 interview with Guy Bradshaw, who founded the company with his name and grew it to $25-$30 million in 12 years, according to our estimates. We think you will find Mr. Bradshaw’s story of perseverance, along with his thoughts on family, leadership and orthopaedics to be of interest.

The orthopaedic industry is filled with world-class, driven professionals. Periodically, we seek to share the knowledge of the orthopaedic power players, to learn what has helped them to be better at what they do.

Guy Bradshaw was employed at Snap-on Tools Corporation from 1986 to 1993, beginning with a Metallurgical Lab Technician position and progressing through production, operations and management of West Coast Sales for the company’s medical products division. He left Snap-on in 1994 to partner with Dick Beere, owner of Beere Precision Products, which had served as CNC Swiss Machining Supplier to Snap-on. The two formed Beere Precision Medical Instruments, for which Bradshaw served as President.

In 2002, Beere Precision was purchased by Teleflex. In January 2006, Bradshaw Medical was formed and achieved annual sales of $2.1MM. For 2010, the company posted annual sales of $17.2MM. The company specializes in the design and manufacture of spinal and orthopaedic instrumentation for its OEM customers. During 2010, Bradshaw Medical was recognized as a Wisconsin Company to Watch, and Guy was awarded Kenosha Area Business Alliance/Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce “Business Person of the Year.”

We’re honored that Mr. Bradshaw shared his experiences for the readership.

Who is your business “hero” or mentor? What was the most important lesson you learned from him or her?

Guy Bradshaw: There have been several influential people who have helped guide me throughout the years, but if I had to single out the individual who has made the largest impact in my business career over the past 25, I would have to give that credit to Dick Beere.

He is a man of integrity whom I have always looked up to, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. This, combined with a hard work ethic and genuine love for God, family, employees and customers, has made him very successful. He is in his mid-80s now and still going strong, running the day-to-day operations at his Swiss Screw machine shop located just north of us in Racine, Wisconsin.

Your mentor aside, to whom have you most often turned for inspiration throughout your orthopaedic career? What has he or she taught you?

Guy Bradshaw: Without a doubt, my wife Diana has been my inspiration since I began this journey back at the Snap-on Tools Medical Products Group in 1986. She has been there from day one to provide the love and support I’ve needed to accomplish the oftentimes seemingly unachievable goals I’ve set for myself and for those around me.

She fully supports me with all the demands on time it takes to start up and lead the businesses I have been a part of throughout the years. You know the old saying, “Behind every good man is a better woman.” There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for this.

In your experience, what attitudes and actions hold the keys to success for a businessperson?

Guy Bradshaw: First and foremost, never forget where you came from.

Second, surround yourself with the most talented individuals that you can find. Focus on those who possess the people skills necessary to achieve challenging goals. I have worked with several incredibly intelligent people over the years, but unless someone can effectively communicate and get the team going in the right direction, all is for naught.

Always treat your employees in the way that you would want to be treated, and you’ll be amazed at what they can achieve with a little encouragement. (During my college days I worked second shift jobs running machines in “sweat shops,” which was a real eye-opener when the opportunity presented itself to start up our own business.)

Finally, always keep an open mind and never stop learning. There hasn’t been a situation throughout my career that someone else hasn’t already encountered. The key is to seek out these individuals and learn from their experience and wisdom.

What advice would you offer a young person entering the ranks of an orthopaedic company in marketing, sales or R&D?

Guy Bradshaw: The best advice I can recommend is to get your degree, but start at the bottom and learn your way up through the organization to get a full appreciation for what it takes to make the business a success.

You will gain a full understanding of the operation, product lines and manufacturing processes. When the time comes to hit the road visiting customers, you’ll be fully equipped and can better guide them in their decision making processes.

Be honest with your customers. Even if they don’t like what they’re hearing, they’ll respect that. This is a small cottage-type industry, and if you mislead by making promises you cannot keep, bridges will be burned, word will spread and short-term success will quickly turn to failure, making it very difficult to recover. Your network of contacts in this industry is your lifeblood; treat them all as if they are your only account.

What books have you read that you consider critical reading material for someone seeking success?

Guy Bradshaw: There are several good books out there, but here are three of my favorite reads and a quote from each.

“Humility + Will = Level 5. Level 5 Leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.” (Good to Great, Jim Collins)

“Peaks are moments when you appreciate what you have, valleys are moments when you long for what is missing.” (Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work For You—At Work and In Life, Spencer Johnson, M.D.)

“The primary job of managers and CEOs alike is to lead the setting of direction for the business. Our second fundamental task involves aligning and supporting everyone around us achieving that direction.” (CEO Tools: The Manager’s Workshop, Craig Kramers)

What do you consider are the keys to the success of Bradshaw Medical in the marketplace?

Guy Bradshaw: Quality. Innovation. Service. Each of these business characteristics are of equal importance and represent the critical keys to our ongoing success here. Any of these without the others will ultimately lead to customer dissatisfaction. When all are achieved on a consistent basis, your business will flourish, leading to significant growth year after year.

Further, our loyal employee base has been the foundation on which we have now built three successful organizations:  Snap-on Tools Medical Products Group (1986-1993), Beere Precision Medical Instruments (1994-2004) and Bradshaw Medical (2006 to the present). The ability for our leadership team to assemble and re-assemble over the years with these talented individuals is a testimony to their dedication, with each start-up being more successful than the last.

Any final thoughts?

Guy Bradshaw: It has truly been a pleasure spending the majority of my working life in the orthopaedic industry. Many of the friends I have made since the mid-1980s remain lifelong customers of ours, and employees have become part of my extended family. It has been a great ride thus far, and I’m eternally thankful to be living the American Dream.

Special thanks to Rebecca Lyyski for her assistance in bringing this article together.