Small Businesses Growing in Wisconsin which is an online magazine focusing on business in Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin had a great article about small businesses that are growing during the economic downturn.

The overall article is good and highlights several companies.  The first company highlighted was Bradley Corp. which makes commercial bathroom fixtures and equipment.  The article mentions the expansion to a new facility with a lean design.  In fact, that is the only mention of lean in the three page article.

What I liked was the approach and and strategy the company took to growth and planning.  Brian Mullet is the president of Bradley Corp.

“As a company, one of our foundations is we don’t look to make changes on a quarterly basis, we look more towards a long-term vision,” Mullett said. “There’s no better time than now, than today, to build a new building.”

In an example of Bradley’s forward-looking investment plan, the company purchased the 32-acre property for its new lean manufacturing plant in 1997, knowing it would allow for flexible use in future expansions.

More from the article…

The key to Bradley’s success, Mullett said, is a family focus on planning far ahead for growth. There are always five-year, three-year and current year plans in place.

“I’m the fifth generation here in the business, so I think that’s been distilled into our family,” he said. “It allows us to plan and be more effective in our business.”

This is more evidence of how thinking long-term has helped a company grow even during uneasy times instead of changing directions several times because of short-term thinking.  It sounds like they may not be a publicly held company which can make it easier sometimes, but it sounds like the family values planning long-term.  The family bought land in the 1990s and held onto it for over a decade waiting for the right time to build on it.  It would have been way to easy to think short-term and build immediately on the land so they were paying for two pieces of property or sell it to get more cash during hard economic times.

I can’t say if they are a lean company or not, but thinking long-term is a good quality to have to build a foundation of lean thinking.  Small businesses are going to be where more jobs come are going to come from to help with the employment rate.  I hope more of them are thinking long-term.

I don’t know what is in the cheese in Wisconsin but I hope it spreads to other states and if it has how do we advertise it more.

Posted on October 24, 2011, in Growth, Manufacturing, Principles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The long term thinking is also evident in that Mullet is the “fifth generation in the business”. So often, the third generation destroys a company because they begin to go for the short term paybacks that the first and second generations were willing to re-invest in the company in order to sustain and then grow it.

    Thanks, Matt, for sharing this positive story.

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