Printer Bud Hadfield Soared Like an Eagle –Michelson
Bud Hadfield had a penchant for bald eagles, but only for images of those birds that depicted a sense of ferocity. Photographs, paintings, figurines and statues of the majestic eagles adorned his home, office and all around his Northwest Forest Conference Center, located near Houston. Founded by Hadfield—a quick printing franchise pioneer who died April 11 at the age of 87—the complex also houses the International Center for Entrepreneurial Development (ICED), a holding company comprising 563 Kwik Kopy Printing, AWT, The Ink Well, Franklin's Printing, Kwik Kopy Business Centers, Parcel Plus and Computer Explorers franchise locations in 13 countries.
"The fiercer the look, the better," related Steve Hammerstein, ICED president and CEO, in describing his boss' infatuation with eagles. "And that's basically how he attacked life—with the same fierceness an eagle attacks its prey. He lived a full, complete, exhausting life."
A consummate entrepreneur, Hadfield printed a newspaper called The Family News (complete with ads he sold in the neighborhood) out of the basement of his parents' Cranston, RI, home during junior high. But, after Bud's father died when he was 16, Hadfield admittedly turned rebellious and was expelled from high school for fighting during his senior year. After a series of odd jobs, he joined the Merchant Marines during World War II, followed by a brief career as an amateur boxer. Hadfield eventually relocated to Houston, and failed at nine different business ventures. Undeterred, he acquired an 18x20-foot letterpress shop, with no running water, from a widow for $1,000 in 1967 and renamed it Bud Hadfield Printers. The printing business grew and became successful, which he credited, in part, to him signing up for a Dale Carnegie training course. Hadfield said what he learned made him a better businessman and salesperson, and it also led to him meeting his wife and business partner of 50 years, Mary, when he sold her a course.
Years later, after a friend experienced a quick turnaround on a complicated print job, the client half-jokingly told Hadfield, "Whatever this is, you ought to franchise it." That would set the entrepreneurial wheels in motion for Hadfield to start selling quick printing and copying franchises. By 1970, there were 27 franchised Kwik Kopy Printing centers, and the self-made, multi-millionaire continued to add franchise brands through organic growth and by acquisition. Despite his success, he typically worked 15-hour days, and even ran for mayor of Houston in 1972.
Bud and Mary Hadfield developed the Northwest Forest Conference Center in 1985 on a 100-acre property. In addition to serving as the headquarters for ICED, the campus is used for corporate training and overnight retreats, weddings and other celebrations. Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of the main foyer is a six-foot-tall, carved eagle with a five-foot wingspan that Bud fondly named "Baby." The grounds also features a full-size replica of the Alamo that he conceived, built with stone from the same quarry as the original. At one time, Hadfield also considered building a replica of Independence Hall.
An inductee into the Entrepreneur's Hall of Fame, the Texas Senate also declared March 23, 1993, as Bud Hadfield Day, citing his civic contributions and involvement at various schools, where he urged young people to further their education. But no award was more fulfilling for him than when he received his high school diploma, some 47 years after being expelled. Hadfield showed his appreciation by replacing the antiquated printing equipment still housed there from his student days. His hope was that others would someday soar like an eagle to new heights in the pursuit of excellence, just like he did.
Mark T. Michelson