An OSN Interview with Guy Bradshaw, Chairman and CEO of Bradshaw Medical
OSN – We are here with Guy Bradshaw. Guy, thank you for joining us.
Guy Bradshaw – Sure, My pleasure.
OSN – Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about you and your company?
GB- Ok, well I started this company in 2006 and I have been in the industry for a little over 25 years now. My career started at Snap-On Tools. We had a small group that was a spin off of the R&D Department at Snap-On and we had a medical products group there. I was one of the first 5 employees of that group and they were just kind of taking a flyer to see if it would take off. We were actually very successful with their biggest account back in those days was Howmedica. We did a variety of hip and knee type instruments and were able to develop the first ratchet and torque instruments that are still used now pretty much as the standard in the industry. Following that, I became the west coast sales manager for them and managed 13 states on the west coast. I built that territory for them and then my family became homesick for the Midwest, so we packed up our bags and came back. We had an offer from Dick Beere who owned a Citizen Swiss Machine Shop in Racine, WI and he was looking to start a medical company as he had been a major supplier for Snap-On and he and I had a good relationship over the years. So we started a medical instrument company in Racine, WI called Beere Precision Medical Instruments and at that company not only did we redesign ratchets and torques to improve their reliability and accuracy but we also developed the silicon handle overmolding which has now also become an industry standard throughout vs. the old phenolic anodized type handles. After about 8-10 years of building that company up, Dick was getting up into his 80s so I approached him about selling the business and put him in contact with Teleflex. Teleflex is headquartered out in Pennsylvania. He was able to work out the deal with them. I was a minority shareholder so I didn’t have a lot of involvement in the deal but he ended up selling that business to Teleflex. I had a 3-year employment agreement and a 2-year non-compete. I made it about 18 months or so with the company and ended up resigning and taking a 2-year non-compete clause. In January of 2006, I started Bradshaw Medical. From there, we have built the business up to a little over $20 Million and we now have 140 employees.
OSN – Wow, there has been quite a bit of media buzz relating to the expansion that you guys are going through. Tell us about the growth, I mean, starting in 2006 and growing to over $20 Million with 140 employees is pretty impressive.
GB - In the first year we started with 4 employees, including myself. I was basically the sales person for the business. We also had Dr. Gao who was our chief engineer and he is now our VP of Research and Development. He has designed and developed several unique new instruments for the industry and he holds 25 patents and another 12 or so that are pending in those years. The first 6 months of the business we were strictly in R&D and the last 6 months we kept adding employees but we ended up somewhere around 15-20 employees in 2006 and our sales for that year were just over $2 Million. We have had rapid growth, fortunately, since then. In 2007 we were around $7.5 Million and it’s been just about a 20-30% growth all the way through last year when we exceeded $20 Million.
OSN – So what would you consider to be the greatest asset that Bradshaw Medical offers to their clients and partner companies?
GB - Well I think from a company standpoint my greatest asset is my employees because many of these people have worked with me all the way back to the Snap-On days. The people that we hired on there kind of followed us over to Beere and now they are with our 3rd start-up, which has been even more successful than the others. Each start-up has been a little more successful out of the gates than the last. Our ratchets are the most ultra-precise ratchets that are out there in the orthopedic industry and our torque-limiting device is holding tolerances of +/- 5% whereas in the old days, the Snap-On days, it was probably +/- 10-15% and I believe that the industry standard is still around 10%. That means we have cut the torque accuracy down in half of what it used to be.
OSN – So what do you think is the biggest mistake that companies make when interviewing and selecting vendor partners?
GB - I think the biggest challenge for the larger OEMs is that they don’t take the time to visit out shop to see what we have to offer. If they are just sending out prints to be quoted on it becomes an apples to oranges comparison. Sometimes we might bid a little higher but we have a staff of 20 engineers that help to redesign and improve manufacturability for them which ultimately will help reduce costs which is a big factor in this economy.
OSN – What do you see as the biggest challenges that OEMs in general are facing going forward as it relates to the FDA, bottom line of manufacturing costs, the looming excise tax, etc.?
GB - I think it is really the government intervention and the costs of the healthcare system as a whole. It has really become a maze to navigate the bureaucracy that is involved. The pricing pressures that they are putting on the OEM and ultimately the OEMs push that back on the suppliers makes it much more difficult that things were in the 80s that’s for sure. Also, the regulatory challenges are enormous. We have a joke around here that we have to kill a tree for every shipment that goes out of here just because of the paperwork that is required just to make a shipment. Nowadays we have to validate all of our products, our equipment, and our processes. Its not good enough to just be ISO13485 anymore. You have to have a wide variety of quality systems in place and the challenge for us as a supplier is that there is no standards as an industry so each set of OEMs have their own standards relating to the way they interpret the regulations so for each OEM that we provide product for does it a little differently. So there is no set standard. It would streamline the lead times and reduce costs if we didn’t have to do it differently for each OEM.
OSN – To that point, it sounds like the way the other manufacturers would work is different as well since there is no standard. So, for a selection of partner, it shouldn’t just come down to price. It should come down to, like you mentioned before, getting a holistic view of the entire operation and selecting the best-suited partner regardless if you are able to beat the price by a buck.
GB- Absolutely, often our pricing is compared to a local machine shop that can make a component for a company. Sometimes they will take our standard ratchet, and nothing can really be considered standard anymore. Each instrument has its on uniqueness about it. OEMs often want the standard price but are ordering a custom product so that can be a challenge as well.
OSN – Without a doubt. Guy, thank you for your time. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us and at the end of the article, we will include your contact information so anyone that wants to can reach out to you and see why Bradshaw Medical makes a great partner.
GB - Alright, well thank you very much!
10325 58th Place
Kenosa, WI 53144
Phone – (262) 925-1374