Interview with Brad Bonham, Co-Founder and CEO of Walker Edison
Brad Bonham has always had a keen eye for design.
To put himself through college, he repaired and sold watches. Bonham was so organized he even had a detailed spreadsheet that cataloged the cost of each watch and how much similar watches were selling for. Overall, he sold several hundred watches.
Fast forward several years, and he still has a discerning taste for great style.
Bonham is the co-founder and CEO of Walker Edison — a leading partner in the e-commerce home furnishings space. The company that started as a side project has since turned into the 15th fastest growing company in Utah, an international powerhouse and a drop-ship solution for the biggest names in online sales.
In his 15 years at the helm, Bonham knows running a company has its fair of challenges, but that’s part of why he loves his job. He loves the thrill of setting and achieving big goals and problem-solving, and his decisive and hardworking nature continues to serve him well.
Walker Edison is guided by three core values: giving back, innovation and growth. The company supports the community that supports them — which means quarterly service opportunities for all employees. Walker Edison was founded with an entrepreneurial spirit and continuously creates better systems, better products and better versions of themselves. Lastly, the company focuses on building great furniture and building up employees on their path to success.
How did you get started in the industry?
It all came down to luck and timing. I saw a television stand that was a fraction of the cost of one I had just seen at a brick and mortar store. I took a risk, ordered a container, and the product sold out. While that was not a long-term strategy, it was an eye-opener that there was money to be made in this space.
When the second container of our product came in, I delivered it to Overstock.com, and they immediately gave me the vendor paperwork. Frankly, we probably wouldn’t be here today without that first e-commerce sale to Overstock.com.
What recent professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
This year, we were honored again as both Utah Business magazine’s Fast 50 and MountainWest Capital Network Utah 100. Since 2013, we have been featured on these lists as a fast-growing business.
I am also proud of being able to give back to many community organizations. Specifically, I’ve had the great fortune supporting the Make-A-Wish® Foundation of Utah. I recently stepped down after two years as chairman of the board and six years on the Make-A-Wish® Utah board. Walker Edison also participated in multiple Wish Proclamations that have been an incredible experience for all our employees.
What drew you to Utah?
I grew up in San Jose and started a business in Utah while in college. There is no better place to do business and raise a family than Utah.
What do you like most about living in Utah?
There is such a variety of things to do in Utah. From towering mountains in the north, with the best snow on earth, to the red rock desert, our state has it all.
The state is also home to a very educated population that is becoming more inclusive and diverse. Diversity in all aspects helps businesses thrive.
What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah is very entrepreneurial-minded, full of go-getters who take charge and ownership of their jobs. I also appreciate how the private and public sectors work together to ensure the business environment remains competitive.
What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business, to Utah?
It is a great time to be an entrepreneur in Utah. We have tools, partnerships and government programs that incentivize growth. If a high quality of life is at the top of your list, and highly trained dynamic employees that speak multiple languages, then Utah is a great place to run your business.
What is your primary challenge of doing business in Utah?
Utah’s economy is at full capacity and recruiting top talent is a challenge. Businesses must be proactive and create an environment that empowers and inspires people daily — that’s what I strive to do as CEO.
What is your business philosophy?
The time employers invest in employees is a primary driver of success. People are what make a business successful.