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Last Update: Monday June 26, 2017

They bought the business then made things right!

How do I buy a business?

Answer: Be Able to Take On Debt

Meet two very-fine American heroes.  Chris Fortune and his wife Sara got into business by buying out a founder who was ready to quit.

Madison, Wisconsin: "Manufacturing is coming back!" is not prophetic verse but the reality of our advancing technologies where highly-educated workers can do it better, often faster, and sometimes cheaper than anywhere in the world.

Sara and Chris Fortune bought Graber Products in 1989 when it had 24 employees and $3.3 million in sales. When we taped this story there were up to 60 employees and with revenues over $10 million. They continue to grow, changed the name of the company to Saris Cycling Group, and are very committed to keeping their manufacturing in the USA.

This episode is a case in point: And, this story comes from the heartlands of America. These are the kind of people who love this country and all those basic freedoms to do the right thing in the face of adversity. They have done it right and now they ship their products around the world.

When Chris and Sara bought Graber Products, they bought a solid business with a good reputation, but the sales were flat. The employees were dedicated, but the company needed fresh energy to start growing again. To dump the stodgy image of the company that he bought, Chris found an Italian fashion designer who came up with improved form and function for his bike racks. Chris believed that the market was ready, willing and waiting for new ideas and he was right. Customers have flocked to the new products and employees love to come to work.

They're industry leaders. They're keeping manufacturing in America. And, their industry recognizes them for their generosity of spirit, moral courage, and ethical leadership. These people are truly quiet heroes,  among the new pioneers who are making our world a better place.  

Saris Cycling Group aka Graber

Innovate Before Competitors Do

3:09 | Play Now | Cyclists all over the world buy from Saris Cycling Group because they have become an industry leader.

Make Change Fast And Easy

3:14 | Play Now | Saris Cycling Group invested in cellular manufacturing to reduce the cost of change. 

Limit Suppliers To Increase Influence

1:08 | Play Now | Chris learned early that loyalty and reliability are more important than price.   Here  Hattie is shown how easy it is to mount a bike on a Saris rack.

Establish A Board Of Directors

2:13 | Play Now | Chris Fortune believes that you get better faster when you are surrounded by experience.  Chris'  Dad and other veteran executives serve on the board at Saris.

Give Customers A Forum

1:33 | Play Now | If you listen, customers will tell you want they want.

Avoid Bankruptcy

3:29 | Play Now | Sara Fortune runs human resources. Early on, she and Chris agreed that while bankruptcy was a legal option for them, it would not be good for their souls or for their talented employees.

Win Big Customers

1:49 | Play Now | Just one high-profile customer can make a big difference in how others view your business.

Bring In Experts

1:01 | Play Now | Host Hattie Bryant discovered that the University of Wisconsin offered Saris  low-cost, high-value expertise.

Make It In America

1:55 | Play Now | Chris and Sara are sentimental. They grew up in Wisconsin which is steeped in a manufacturing tradition. The proud past of Wisconsin factories is being carried on at Graber because Chris and Sara are determined to prove that, "Made In America" means quality.

Spend On Good Design

1:24 | Play Now | Marketing consultant, John Wargo, says  that exquisite design in your marketing material will generate a high level of interest.