Rich Bradley – Compassionate Business Leader
Last Updated on January 25, 2020 by Estrella
The greatest leaders are often the quietest. They don’t look for recognition. We often do not know how much they have accomplished. Their acts of kindness sometimes go unnoticed. And they feel perfectly fine with that. Such a person is Rich Bradley, a compassionate business leader.
Recently, I heard that Rich passed away in December last year. As soon as his former employees from 2 decades ago heard the news, they all wanted to attend the reception that celebrates his life. There are good reasons why he is so dear to them. In the following paragraphs, I want to share what I respect and admire most in Rich.
When Rich was president of Microcomputer Electronics, he knew that if he put together the best team, the company would BE its best. So he recruited Carol Olsby from the East Coast to lead the HR department.
With Carol’s natural ability to create a welcoming atmosphere, Rich now runs a company that feels like home to the employees. Productivity was high because of this warm environment. There’s always some celebration in the lunch room. Someone’s birthday, baby showers, or just because it’s a sunny day in Seattle. People feel they are important and valued here.
When one employee lost her father, and did not realize how expensive funerals and burials are in the U.S., another employee took up a collection. Within a week, this co-worker raised enough money to take care of all the expenses. Now THAT’s a family.
When one employee returned from maternity leave, she misinterpreted the salary compensation because of her English skills. Instead of insisting on the company’s policy, Rich asked Carol to give that employee what she was expecting to receive. His reason was that entry level assemblers do not make that much money. He didn’t want her misunderstanding to become a financial hardship on her. What a generous, compassionate man!
Both Rich and Carol felt that employees who speak limited English could reach their potential faster if there is ESL support on site. So they brought me in to create a customized program that meets the company’s specific needs while helping these employees expand their English skills.
We used the conference room for our class, which is located directly across from Rich’s office. We laughed a lot in class. One woman in particular has the belly laugh of Buddha. Rorb’s laughter can be heard half a mile away. Since Rich’s door was always open, I worried that our noise level would disturb him. When I stopped by after class to check on this, Rich said, “So YOU are the in-house comedienne!”
He was happy to hear the laughter. He loved hearing happy sounds coming from the conference room. Absolutely no thought given to whether it disturbed his work or not. So, we kept right on laughing loudly.
The company grew rapidly. In just a few years, it tripled in size. Carol called me and said that she and Rich would like me to help the ESL employees again. There are now more non-native English speakers, and they could benefit from English support.
While I was teaching the ESL classes there, the owner of the company (now renamed Universal Avionics) decided to move the majority of the manufacturing to Arizona. Employees were given the option to relocate with an attractive package. Even so, many decided to stay in the area.
Rich, still the president of the company, felt that with many of the employees looking for work in the near future, they would need help getting ready for the transition. He wanted to make sure they have the skills, both English and otherwise, to obtain good jobs. So, he and Carol wanted me to help equip the ESL employees with skills that would ensure their future job search success.
I don’t know how many business leaders think about equipping their employees for future success after they leave the company. Rich felt it had to be done. The future job security of his employees was a priority to him. He made sure they got the education. This man puts his money where his mouth is.
Rich was a quiet man. I can count the number of conversations we had on one hand. But his impact was great. He lived his values. He walked his talk. He made sure that his employees are well taken care of.
I have a feeling that Rich did not identify himself as his job title. He was not the kind of president that went around shaking everyone’s hands to build rapport. But he was someone who’s RIGHT THERE when you need him.
Rich was not a person who needed public recognition. He knew what he needed to do, found the right people to do it, and left them alone to do what they do best. In today’s terminology, he is everyone’s dream employer.
While I was teaching at Universal Avionics, my mother passed away in another state. Rich and Carol asked my students for an address to send flowers. Since no one knew the address of the funeral home, Carol and Rich sent a lovely plant to me instead. Even though I was an independent contractor, Carol invited me to take as much time as I needed before returning to work. But I didn’t need to. The family that Rich and Carol created also became part of my family. They were right there to comfort me, to care for me in difficult times.
So, here’s to you, Rich, for creating a place where people love to go to work, feel good being there, feel cared about. A place that feels welcoming everyday, honoring the value of each person. A work place that every company wishes it could create.
And I got to experience the magic you created. Thank YOU!
Here are some of the ways that Carol and Rich used to create a welcoming work place. How to create a culturally diverse workplace.
Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking. To schedule a session with her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org