Bradley Lifting’s boss Harvey Bradley: ‘I’m 81’
Harvey Bradley, who built his York company, Bradley Lifting, from scratch has sold his company to an out-of-town outfit. Here, Bradley is seen with a giant hook in 2007. His company fabricates the block that the hook will be hung from. Background posts: Glatfelter, Farquhar, Shipley: Insights from local greats, Who will lead York in the future? and Samuel Small tops community contributor list.
Harvey Bradley is a living example of some of York County’s past captains of industry.
He started with few resources, except perhaps the most important, an entrepreneurial spirit. He built big things… .
York County has long loved making big, heavy things.
Bob Hoffman’s York Barbell is one example. Johnson Controls’ (York Manufacturing, York Ice Machinery, York Corporation, Borg-Warner, York International) makes air conditioning equipment big enough to chill the Taj Mahal and the Chunnel. A.B. Farquhar made heavy steam-powered engines. Forry Laucks’ York Safe & Lock made, well, immovable safes. Harley-Davidson makes big, throaty-sounding motorcycles. S. Morgan Smith, now Voith Hydro, American Hydro and Precision Components, make big water wheels and turbines.
And like his industrial heirs, Harvey Bradley, in his 80s, had to sell. And he chose Xtek from Cincinnati.
“They have a good quality product — and so do we,” a Xtek spokesman said.
Let’s hope that Bradley’s longtime Elm Street plant and workers get the opportunity to continue making their good quality products – in York.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (2/10/08) on the sale follows:
Harvey Bradley was straight to the point about why he decided to sell the company he built from scratch.
“I’m 81,” said the engineer-turned entrepreneur, who didn’t intend to wait so long to turn over the reins.
But he held out for years to be sure a buyer would not move his company away from York or dismantle it for profit.
After all, staying in York is why he founded Bradley Lifting Corp. in 1972. In Cincinnati-based Xtek, Bradley said, he believes he found the right buyer.
Bradley and Xtek expect to close the deal in March, with assurances that the new owner will do whatever is possible to keep Bradley a York County company.
It has nearly 50 employees and a steady international business catering to those with specialized lifting needs. Aluminum-making giant Alcoa, for example is among the company’s top buyers.
Bradley said he began his business after he grew tired of jumping from town to town with his old employer, a subsidiary of American Chain and Cable Co. that passed through York County decades ago on a trip from Connecticut to Indiana.
His oldest daughter, Loraine, was in high school; his other daughter, Heather, and son, Colin, were in grade school at the time ACCO told him about the planned move.
The company made lifting equipment, and Bradley thought he could do well making the equipment on his own.
Shortly after he began, in the basement of his home, Bradley bought the facility on Elm Street where his company still resides. He slowly carved the niche his company has to this day.
Bradley said he never thought about whether his company would grow or not.
“I was just looking to earn a living and keep my family in York,” he said.
Xtek, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a provider of replacement parts for steel-and aluminum-making plants and industrial cranes, minus the custom grasping equipment Bradley makes.
So several years ago, while Bradley mulled his options, a sales representative for Xtek approached him and said he could sell Bradley lifts and Xtek parts together.
That partnership grew — helping to increase the company’s business by about half — into an offer Bradley knew was the best he would get.
Most importantly for Bradley, the offer came with assurances to keep jobs in York and to grow the company here.
The companies are a good fit, said Bradley, who will stay on as a consultant after the expected March sale comes to pass.
“Harvey Bradley built an incredible company,” said Kyle Seymour, president of Xtek since 2002. So it makes sense to keep as much of that structure in place as possible.
Seymour said the purchase will put Xtek in the metal-foundry business where it wasn’t strong before — the aluminum market. They mostly do their work for steel mills now.
Sigh of relief
Employees at Bradley’s dual-campus facility seem happy with the sale — although a bit sad that Bradley will no longer be their boss. For some, he’s the only boss they’ve ever had.
John Corsa will begin his 30th year at Bradley Lifting in September, so “Harvey and Win” — the name employees give to the husband-and-wife management team — are essentially the only bosses he remembers having.
It will be a switch working for someone else, whoever that person might be. But he said he’s looking forward to the challenge. Bradley Lifting has been good for him and never gave him a reason to leave.
David Rebben, chief engineer for the company, has about 25 fewer years at Bradley than Corsa but feels the same way about working there.
He said it’s been interesting the past few months considering rumors about the sale.
“Everyone wondered about his age,” Rebben said.
The news that Xtek wanted to buy Bradley Lifting was good news for Rebben.
“They have a good quality product — and so do we,” he said.
· Name: Bradley Lifting Corp.
· Founded: 1972
· Location: 1030 Elm St., York
· Total sales: $9 million
· Largest customer: Alcoa
· Web site: www.bradleylift.com
What it does
Bradley is a leading “below the hook” manufacturer of lifting equipment for various applications. The term “below the hook” refers to the actual grabbing mechanism used on a crane or other lifting setup.
Often, a customer will send a container or other item that needs to be lifted to Bradley, and its workers design a lift around the container.
Also, a large part of the work is refabricating worn-down equipment. Lifts that carry molten aluminum, a major application, come back bent and sometimes mangled.
Employees say the two parts of the business mean every day of work is something new, whether a custom design or a custom repair is required.