Chuck Bradshaw, left, chatting with Jim Strozier. Strozier is a client at the Franklin Business Incubator, and Bradshaw has been instrumental as a mentor  to him for several years now. -- SUBMITTED | NANCY PARRSH
Chuck Bradshaw, left, chatting with Jim Strozier. Strozier is a client at the Franklin Business Incubator, and Bradshaw has been instrumental as a mentor
to him for several years now. -- SUBMITTED | NANCY PARRSH

Archived Story

Incubator welcomes Chuck Bradshaw’s skills as mentor

Published 10:09am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nancy Parrish
Manager, The Franklin Business Incubator

Chuck Bradshaw
Chuck Bradshaw

FRANKLIN—A mentor is a noun and to mentor is a verb.

The first term can be defined as a trusted advisor or teacher. The second definition is to guide another person in life, such as through learning a proper attitude, behavior, character or in work. Chuck Bradshaw embodies both meanings.

Bradshaw is providing his own skill set as a guide to the Franklin Business Incubator, which has accepted his offer. In March he approached the Incubator about his desire to help the small businesses as a mentor. For several years, it had struggling to build a cache of such guides for the clients at the site. Mentors can play a vital role in the success of young and aspiring businesses.

When Bradshaw first came to the area, he was working for a commercial insurance company. Moving to this part of Western Tidewater was a job requirement. Since he and his wife, the former Betsy Lucy, had both grown up in small towns, Franklin seemed like the ideal place, and they reside here still.

As the son and grandson of business owners, Bradshaw had inherited a bit of that “entrepreneurial DNA.”

Consequently, he decided to go into business for himself in 1983. He initially focused on life insurance, an area where he was completely knowledgeable and comfortable. But he soon expanded the practice with a focus on employee benefits.

Deciding to incorporate, Commonwealth Benefits Corporation was begun in 1984, and was located at the corner of Fourth and Main streets for over 20 years. That same year, Bradshaw earned the Chartered Life Underwriter designation from the American College, and he additionally became licensed in securities. In 1987, he was awarded the designation of Chartered Financial Consultant, also from the American College.

During that time, Bradshaw focused primarily on working with closely held businesses, assisting not only with employee benefits, but also in many other aspects of business planning, buy-sell planning and estate planning. All the while, his business grew and grew.

Over the past 30 years while in business, Bradshaw has been the owner of all — or part — of over a dozen business ventures, including financial planning, executive benefit consulting, real estate speculation, development leasing and employee benefit administration, just to name a few.

A few years ago, he worked with his son, Harper, in the planning and financing of his restaurant in downtown Suffolk, aptly named Harper’s Table.

“I think that my dad will be an asset to folks who are looking to move forward with starting a business,” said Harper. “He is a no-nonsense kind of guy. When it comes to business advice he doesn’t always say what you want to hear, but he is usually right.”

One of the most successful businesses within the Incubator, Highground Services, has a lot to say about Bradshaw’s guidance and mentoring for their business, from start-up to the present.

“I have relied on Chuck since the first thought of even starting a business,” said Jim Strozier, owner of Highground Services. “After going through the start-up of a new business, I can say without a doubt that all new businesses need a set of professionals to be able to help navigate all the myriad of rules and regulations.

“I firmly believe that any new entrepreneur needs a good accountant, a good lawyer, a good banker and a good financial planner to help them learn about the things that they don’t know… and even more importantly, to learn the things that they don’t know that they don’t know.

“There are so many rules and so many things that new entrepreneurs come across that they would never have had any idea about until they are faced with it. Having one of the professionals who they can call and ask – without the fear of asking a ‘stupid question’ – how to find out what it is that they need to do is crucial.

If they have a mentor with whom they can build a relationship and can feel comfortable enough to call to ask a question and get advice, then that is invaluable. Being able to make that quick phone call, or personal visit, and be able to keep moving is critical. If you don’t know where to start, then you either put it aside, or even forget about it. Or, you spend way too much time trying to find out where to start. Mentors can fill that valuable role. Chuck has been one of my trusted advisors/mentors from the start, and I still rely on him for those kinds of questions.”

Still another area resident, Chris Purvis, shares that Bradshaw was indispensable in helping him when he was starting his own business, Purvis Well Company, another one of the area’s success stories.

Purvis said that Bradshaw was a great sounding board for him, and there seemed to be little that he did not know about starting and growing a business; but if he did not know the answer to a question, he always knew someone who did.

Contact Parrish for more information at 562-1958 or nparrish@franklinsouthamptonva.com.

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