Signs of the times Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

In 2003, sales at Brady Corp. were flat, and profitability and morale were both low.

Frank Jaehnert began his tenure as president and CEO by addressing this boldly, implementing the largest restructuring in the company’s history, telling employees, “While making cuts is not the way one wants to start out as CEO, we know that we can’t get to where we want or need to be in small steps. We have to take dramatic ones.”

He challenged his leadership team to think boldly and set high goals for the company to achieve.

The turnaround was dramatic, with the company reaching its five-year goal in three years. Jaehnert attributes the success to focus and discipline in executing the company’s business strategies, and says it’s a team effort and a team success.

In addition to fiscal success, morale has also risen dramatically. Jaehnert commits to speak to as many employees as possible every year. He travels around the world, giving state-of-the-company speeches and taking questions from employees. In the last employee survey, only 5 percent disagreed with the statement “This is a great place to work.”

Jaehnert believes in creating an organization with a flat management structure that does not impede decision-making. He believes in empowering others rather than dictating actions.

The vision set in 2003 was for the company to be a market leader in all its businesses. The strategy for achieving this is twofold: organic growth through expanding global operations, exploring new markets and introducing new products; and acquiring companies that enhance the company’s product offering. Brady Corp. has achieved many milestones but continues to invest in new product development to make sure it doesn’t lose its gains.

HOW TO REACH: Brady Corp., or (414) 438-6810