Brad was born and raised in Des Moines. As the son of a hard-working farm implement dealer, he learned the life lessons of honesty, respect and others before self. He attended public and parochial schools where he enjoyed student government and athletics and graduated from Dowling High School. Brad attended college at Grand View and Ellsworth. While in high school and college he worked for his father’s John Deere dealership learning the practical lessons of the business of agriculture.
After college he worked in the hardware trade and soon took the opportunity to go into business for himself. It was there as proprietor of his own hardware store, Zaun’s Trustworthy Hardware, in Urbandale for eighteen years that he learned the hard lessons of business ownership. At the same time Brad started a family, enjoyed watching his children grow, struggled to make ends meet and wrestled with the challenges facing every young husband and father.
Like many small business owners’ experience, things didn’t always go well or come easy. There were some pretty lean years, times when Brad had to make sure his employees were paid before, if and when, he could pay himself. In fact, for a short while Brad faced the ugly possibilities of failure, foreclosure and financial ruin. But he didn’t back down. He didn’t run away. He didn’t blame anyone else. He shouldered the responsibility and did not ask for or get a government bailout. Instead, Brad persevered, succeeded and made good on all of his obligations until they were paid in full.
Having walked in the same shoes as many main street business owners of central Iowa, Brad knows what it is like and yet he was able to turn the situation around. He kept the doors open all those years, both good and bad, learned to compete with the mega-corporations, and learned to meet the demands of an ever growing and changing clientele. He made the store successful to the point he was offered an attractive buy-out. Now as a small business owner of Grapnel Tech Services in West Des Moines, I understand the everyday challenges of operating a business today.