Saturday, March 7, 2009

CHARLIE BRADSHAW - From Gridiron to Boardroom

Charlie Bradshaw
@ South Carolina Business
Hall of Fame

From Gridiron to Boardroom

Old time Dublin High football fans will tell you that he was the greatest player ever to wear the green and white. With the possible exception of Tennyson Coleman, he is certainly the best Dublin player ever to play on the old Battle Field. But Charlie Bradshaw's success as a football player, first in Lake City, Florida, Dublin and later at Wofford College, was eclipsed by his success as a businessman and entrepreneur. Today, Charles J. Bradshaw, a former Dublin High quarterback, stands as a legend in the business community of South Carolina.

Charlie Bradshaw, the fifth of six children of James W. and Florence Sanders Bradshaw, was born in Lake City, Florida on July 15, 1936. Bradshaw grew up in the sleepy community of Lake City, where he played football for Columbia High School. Bradshaw tells the story of how he was too young to work in the local tobacco warehouses. With the help of his mother, Charlie sold snow cones to workers at a profit superior to that of his hard-sweatin' brothers.

When Charlie was a junior in high school, the Bradshaws made the 162-mile trip up U.S. Highway 441 to their new home in Dublin, where the elder Bradshaw worked at the V.A. Hospital. In his first year at Dublin High, Charlie was instantly popular with his classmates, who elected him as Class Secretary and Representative on the Homecoming Court. Charlie was a five-sport star in football, basketball, golf, tennis and track. There were no other sports for him to star in. In his senior season in 1953, Charlie was named the All Region quarterback and Mr. Dublin High School. But Charlie wasn't just a jock. He was a member of the Beta Club and the Spanish Club.

Following his graduation from Dublin High School, Charlie went on to play football for the University of Georgia, the first Dubliner to play for the Bulldogs. A preseason injury just before his sophomore season forced Charlie to contemplate his future in Athens. After consulting with his coaches, his father and friends, Charlie, a back up quarterback, decided to transfer to a smaller school, Wofford College, in South Carolina. As he was in Dublin, Charlie was popular with his classmates. He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity and President of the Student Body. It was at Wofford, where Charlie's destiny as a quarterback and a businessman was set. With a fresh start in a new setting, Charlie, a member of the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, excelled on the football field. In 1957, he was named to the All American Team for smaller colleges. In his primary wide receiver Jerry Richardson, Charlie found a life long friend and business partner.

Charlie met his wife Judy Brewer on a wager with teammate Donnie Fowler. That bet turned out to be another one of the pieces of puzzle which led to Charlie's future in business. Fresh out of college with a degree in mathematics, Charlie married Judy in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. They set up their home in Spartanburg, where Charlie took a job with a local Ford dealership. At the request of his brother in law Joe Brewer, Charlie took a look at a hamburger stand in Rocky Mount. Bradshaw doubted that he could ever get rich selling 15-cent hamburgers and cokes and fries for a dime. But Charlie had a talent for business. He analyzed the sales and dreamed of franchising the restaurant across the Carolinas. So in October 1961, Charlie and Jerry, with his earnings from the Baltimore Colts, opened their first fast food restaurant at 431 Kenney Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The restaurant, the first franchise in the chain, was the popular Hardee's Hamburgers.

The business began to grow. In 1969, Bradshaw and Richardson combined their business interests across the Carolinas and founded Spartan Food Systems, Inc., which went public and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1976. In 1977, the company began to acquire numerous restaurants of the Quincy's restaurant chain and later a string of Denny's restaurants. At the peak of the ownership, Bradshaw and Richardson owned more than 600 franchises in a company which oversaw fifteen hundred more restaurants.

The Transworld Company purchased Spartan in 1979. Charlie Bradshaw was named the company's senior vice-president in charge of food services, which included the Canteen Company, the largest food vending service in the world. In 1984, Bradshaw was promoted to president of the company, which included among its holdings, Century 21, Hilton Hotels and Transworld Airlines. When the company's stockholders and directors opted to get into the nursing home business, Bradshaw felt it was time for him to leave the company, although many had been grooming him to become the company's chief executive officer.

After a quarter of a century in the food service business, Charlie Bradshaw decided to go home, back to his family. He formed Bradshaw Enterprises to work with his children and teach them the business skills he had learned from the first day of the Hardee's in Spartanburg to the tactics of the boardrooms of one of the country's largest companies. Bradshaw was active in the Junior Achievement as it epitomized everything America stands for. Charlie believed in the program which followed the same ideals he used in his own business ventures and pushed it as a way of getting young people involved in business. More important, Bradshaw believes that they know the proper way to go into business and how to handle problems which inevitably arise.
In 2001, Charlie took over the management of Team Sports Entertainment, which was the parent company of Team Racing Auto Circuit "TRAC." Though he continues to work today at the age of seventy-two, Charlie spends more time with his family and grandchildren and playing golf every chance he gets.

To his friends, Charlie has always been known as a hard worker and a generous man. Charlie poured his efforts and his money into the Judy Bradshaw Children's Foundation for needy children. He supported the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Foundation and the Boys Clubs of America. Charlie has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the South Carolina Jaycees, the Spartanburg Distinguished Citizen Award and Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater Wofford.

In 2006, Charlie Bradshaw was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame. Bradshaw attributes his success toward those he worked with and those who worked for him by saying, "I think the most important thing for any young person is picking his peer group, the persons he or she surrounds himself with. I don't care if it's his teen age years. I don't care if it's in his college years, business, or whatever it is. You are not going to be more successful than the people around you."

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