MOUNDRIDGE — The Bradbury Group, a metal processing equipment manufacturing company, is celebrating its 60th year of business in 2019 and will soon reveal a new logo for at its headquarters in Moundridge.
"We've been here for 60 years; we intend to stay here," said The Bradbury Group CEO and president David Cox.
The Bradbury Group will also have an open house for Manufacturing Day on Oct. 4. At that event, the company's founder, Floyd Bradbury, will be present.
Bradbury and a partner started the company called Wichita Roll or Die with a sister sales company called Rollform Products in Wichita in 1959.
"We were focused on aircraft, RV products, window awnings, window screen frames, things like that," Cox said.
In 1962, Bradbury bought out his partner and moved the business to Moundridge, changing its name to The Bradbury Company in 1964.
The company grew when David Bradbury began working there full time in 1969 and started selling roll forming equipment in addition to manufactured metal products.
In 1972, The Bradbury Co. moved from the creamery building in downtown Moundridge to current location. That same year, the company made its first international sale of grain bin equipment to Russia.
Cox started his career with The Bradbury Co. in 1997 as they acquired companies and started up others around the globe. The company focused on providing customer support nearby not only in the United States, but also in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.
"We looked at how we were doing business around the world and we started to adopt the philosophy of 'sales, service and engineering close to the customer,'" Cox said.
With each expansion, the company looked for employees who had a similar work ethic and spirit of teamwork.
"As we try to expand internationally, we look for places that embody what made Bradbury successful," Cox said. "If you're just chasing a business for return on investment or the profit motive and forget the people side, you're probably going to fail. It's that focus on the people side and making sure you're picking the right partners to work with that has led to our success."
Another factor of The Bradbury Co.'s growth is its commitment to reinvesting in advancing technology while competing with other companies around the globe.
"That engineering investment to increase the capacity of the equipment is what has allowed customers to keep coming back to partner with us to solve their manufacturing problems," Cox said. "We have to keep investing in technology; we have to keep trying to figure out how to solve customer problems. There is going to be more and more automation deployed into the manufacturing environment, so we have to invest in that to offer that solution and that technology and be competitive."
While there are more automated machines and robotics involved in the manufacturing process now than there were in the 1950s, employees are still called upon to manufacture a product out of raw materials.
"You still need those skills that you needed 60 years ago — you've got to be willing to roll up your sleeves, do hard work, solve problems, figure out how things fit and function together," Cox said. "Machines are great to automate a lot of features and maybe take away some of the heavy burden and daily lifting challenges of running equipment, but you still have to have that base knowledge of what it takes to make that piece of equipment work."
It is still a challenge to find employees who want to work in manufacturing, though Cox pointed out it is not the same as what prior generations experienced.
"We host open houses and Manufacturing Day," said Ryan Durst, vice president of sales and marketing. "We try to start early, with high school and vocational/technical schools and college programs."
"It's not manufacturing of old in a dirty, greasy, industrial environment," Cox said. "It's a clean, automated environment with high technology."
The Bradbury Group holds multiple events including cookouts, a golf tournament and a company picnic for its employees each year. It employs around 360 people at its headquarters in Moundridge.
"Moundridge is home; this is the heart of the company," Cox said. "Every year, for the next seven or eight years, we'll have an employee celebrate 40 years with us."
In the future, The Bradbury Group will continue to expand its presence around the world and introduce more automation and safety features in its manufacturing process.
"We're looking at deploying more and more robots in our manufacturing environment, which will change the game in terms of skill set as well as the burden on labor to do the heavy lifting that takes place today," Cox said.