Branching Out Interviews

Branching Out: Fort Worth’s Neal Bradley on Leadership and Building Relationships

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“Neal Bradley is a one of a kind. His knowledge about this industry is amazing. He is every definition of the word ‘leader’,” says John Tovar, contract support. 

Described as a leader and an effective communicator, Fort Worth branch manager, Neal Bradley, has a whatever-it-takes attitude and a heart as big as Texas. Combine that with almost thirty years of restaurant industry experience and you have the recipe for an unstoppable GM. 

Bradley started as a stock boy for Kirby Restaurant Supply in 1989 in Longview, TX. He spent 20 years with Kirby where he “basically grew up in the industry”, working in floor sales, outside sales, dish and ice machine leasing, contract sales, installation, and purchasing. After moving to Fort Worth, Bradley spent five years working for Mission Restaurant Supply doing sales, bid work and purchasing. In 2014, he accepted the role of General Manager for Bargreen Ellingson. 

This extensive experience has aided in his “ability to communicate with people at all levels. From sales, to contract support to warehouse,” says Ken Hirsh, contract sales. And communication is key when you have a territory 3000 sq. miles, several chain customers that hit all four corners of the country, and a staff of 13 expected to grow by the end of the year.

“I am very proud of my branch,” says Bradley. “With the exception of us two old guys, my staff is young, tenacious, willing to learn, and most importanScreen_Shot_2016-06-10_at_10.22.42_AM.pngtly, they are here to take care of our customers. For that, I am very lucky and grateful, and I couldn’t do it without them.” 

Yet, Bradley’s staff wouldn’t be as successful as they are without his influence in building a positive environment for staff to thrive, learn and have fun. 

We have a very diverse, fun group of people in Fort Worth, but it hasn’t always been that way. I think Neal is responsible for much of that ‘fun’,” says Hirsh. “With his goofy personality and willingness to get involved in any project that needs his incredible industry knowledge, Neal keeps this branch together,” says Lindsey Cates, contract support. 

Bradley “is a leader that knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”, says Julie Tuck, contract support. He cares “deeply about each individual employee and their families, even though he doesn’t look like it,” salesperson Dustin Kennedy says.

The Texas branch is a family, thanks to Bradley, and a successful one at that. “He jokes around that we are all peers and nothing more, but deep down in that Longview heart we are his little Texas family,” says Tovar. 

 

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As Fort Worth’s General Manager, what do you enjoy most about the role?

I like the challenge of managing people, sharing my years of experience with the younger generation, and watching them grow.

What has your greatest challenge?  

Keeping up with the day to day demands of national chains, and building a branch that will be able to compete in a very tough Texas market.

What has been your greatest success?

Keeping the relationships that I have built for many years by doing right by people. The greatest one of all is that my kids grew up listening to me rant and rave about the industry so now they are in the industry learning the business from Dad. That is pretty cool.

How do you measure success?

One customer at a time.

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Front row, left to right: Lindsey Cates, John Tovar, Julie Tuck, Winabreth Pena, Hayley Martin, Ken Hirsh. Back row, left to right: RJ Hillman, Marc Battoe, Marcus Tate, Kevin Handcock, Lester “Boogie” Coles

What is a typical day like for you?

There really isn’t a typical day for me, they are all different to some extent, and that is why I love what I do. Every day brings a different set of issues and different rewards

What draws you to the restaurant and hospitality industry? Why?  

This is a thriving industry that I believe will never go away; it is a very small industry but yet so large. This is the only job I have ever had. I have made some very good friends along the way and cannot imagine ever doing anything else.

What is the best advice you have ever received throughout your career and how do you apply this advice to your job every day?

Relationships, relationships, relationships. Without them, you will never truly make it in life or the foodservice industry.  Respect people, work hard, treat people the way you want to be treated and it will be a great ride.


Come visit our Fort Worth, TX branch located on 2450 Handley Ederville Rd
Fort Worth, TX 76118.

 

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