Brad Walhood smiles as he tells me about how his parents offered him $1000 if he could make it out of high school without being grounded. By some miracle, he did it, and he took that money straight to his parents’ finance guy, ready to invest in his own future.
This story is a sort of Bradism. Brad is a critical thinker, playing a long game that only starts to makes sense when you immerse yourself in the myriad details that are swirling around his operational brain. Within a couple of sentences, Brad is able to tie together macroeconomic and political policies with challenges faced by small businesses like Ratio. He’s lived enough life in the ecommerce world to see trends and formulas where others may only see random chaos.
Brad has a lowkey sense of humor, one that, if you’re not careful, will lull you into being unprepared for his razor sharp incisiveness. A decade into manufacturing Ratio machines, Brad can rattle off from memory a laundry list of material and design choices that make both the Ratio Eight and the Ratio Six really difficult to build, all the while resulting in mechanical wonder, aesthetic beauty, and longterm quality.
It’s this attention to detail that makes Brad such a perfect match for Ratio co-founder Mark Hellweg. Mark brings a high-level vision and an aesthetic that isn’t always easy to pull off, and pretty much never cheap. Brad does the research, counts the cost, performs some sort of weird manufacturing magic, and voila: The Ratio is a thing that exists in the world. It’s possible Mark and Brad have a bit of a Phil and Bob thing going. Brad is the perfect straight man to Mark’s always-optimistic-energy. Their dynamic of “What if we…?” and “Yes, that’s possible and here’s what it will take…” has created something truly unique.
A few years back, Brad left the clouds of Portland for the high-desert sunshine of Bend. When he’s not in wfh mode, he’s probably cutting through powder on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor. This, too, is an embodiment of the ethos that Brad has imbued at Ratio: working hard is its own reward, but staying connected to nature and self aren’t leftovers or negotiable. It wasn’t too many years ago that Brad was a full-time student, working a full-time job, renovating a house, adjusting to marriage, and dealing with high level medical stuff. Which is to say, Brad is no stranger to overwhelm and stress.
It’s actually that overwhelming season of his life where Brad found himself connected with Mark (and Mark’s family of origin) at a much deeper level than just business. A community formed up around them in a way that made taking on the risks of building a small business feel not scary, or at least not scary enough to not do it. This sense of community building has expanded to factory relationships across the globe, and continues to infuse the way Ratio does business.
Brad and Mark are united in their efforts to make the entire life cycle of Ratio machines one that is a net positive for the communities and people around them. There’s an intentionality in these Ratio founders that goes far beyond profit or branding. Creating a beautiful, sustainable machine that brings good jobs for manufacturers and joy filled experiences for customers isn’t the easiest path to take, but for guys like Brad, it’s the only path worth taking.