Hall of Fame--A Major Leaguer
At this point, Bracken had a tough decision to make. He saw an opportunity to take a customer service job, which could be a gateway into more of a managerial position (not to mention offering a straight day shift). But the pay scale was virtually cut in half, from $220 to $115 a week. Much like his decision to forego baseball, Bracken considered the long-term benefits of such a move over the short-term, instant gratification of making more money. Staying put was not taking the direction he envisioned career-wise.
It proved to be the right choice. Bracken remained a CSR for two years, then became plant manager in 1963, vice president of manufacturing in 1964 and president in 1975. Mission accomplished, but it was hardly a happily-ever-after proposition.
"In 1975 when I became president, the company had ran into tough times," he recalls. "We worked for the bank the first couple of years, and that worked out well for us. I had a good relationship with Bob Danner, who was chairman of the board. With his help and with the employees' help, we made the company turn around quickly."
A few years later, Bracken took his management goal to another level. An electrical storm had zapped Danner Press of electrical power, leaving Bracken, Bob Danner, Mike Patterson (VP of sales) and Bernie Mount (VP) sitting in the dark. Right then and there, Bracken offered to purchase the company from Danner, who was receptive to the idea. In 1979, ownership of Danner Press exchanged hands.
Work to Do
But while Danner Press had escaped the clutches of the bank, there were still considerable competition issues that needed to be addressed, according to Bracken. No one ever worked through lunch and six men would operate a four-unit press. The "fat" needed to be trimmed.