Without the airy outdoors, W.C. Bradley would suffocate. The company's Char-Broil division is a leading producers of outdoor barbecue gas and electric grills. In addition, W.C. Bradley makes Thermos-brand grills; Lamplight Farms oil lamps, Tiki torches, and scented candles; and Lew's, Martin, Quantum, Van Staal, and Zebco fishing gear. The company's wares are sold to major retailers worldwide, including Sears, Roebuck, Home Depot, Kmart, and Wal-Mart, and through its own Web sites. It also runs a PGA Tour Stop shop in Florida. Founded in 1885 by William C. Bradley, the company is run by the family's fourth generation; chairman Steve Butler is the nephew of Bradley's grandson.
Butler relinquished the CEO's title to industry veteran Marc Olivié in November 2008. At that time W.C. Bradley's president, Brad Turner, retired from the company after 24 years.
In 2008 the company added backpacks and hunting equipment to its lineup of outdoor gear when its Zebco division acquired Salt Lake City-based Vortex Outdoors. Vortex brands include William Joseph fly-fishing gear, Badlands hunting equipment, Black Ridge packs, Watermark fly-fishing packs, and Vortex backpacks.
W.C. Bradley has been reorganizing its Char-Broil unit and has shifted its grill production to countries with cheaper labor after hearing from retail buyers that its US-made products were too expensive compared to Chinese-made grills. The company began in 2005 to move its grill manufacturing to China from its Ohio-based manufacturing plant. In doing so, W.C. Bradley has laid off more than 800 full-time and 1,000 seasonal employees. In 2007 the company laid off another 100 employees when it closed its call center and fulfillment division, as part of the Char-Broil reorganization. – less