Business Center

Spotlight on Innovation: Brad Bauer

By Tiffani Madle, Process Improvement Intern

August 22, 2018

Brad Bauer

Brad Bauer

Maintenance Manager
Region 2 (Southeast Colorado)

Brad Bauer is a Maintenance Manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in Southeast Colorado. Brad takes pride in finding solutions to problems and creating a safer work environment for others. In a recent interview with Brad, he shares the importance of supporting employees through innovation.

Interview with Brad Bauer

What inspires you to innovate?

“My inspiration comes from a safety need. The theft deterrent box, for instance, we had a real bad rash of copper getting stolen out of light poles, so I wanted to figure out a way to stop people from stealing wire....” Not only did Brad and his team design a tool that helps prevent theft, but it also allows them to do their jobs “better, quicker and more efficiently,” he says.

In what ways have you encouraged your team to be more creative and innovative?

Feeling supported by your supervisor can make all the difference when trying to pursue a new idea. Brad explains: “I really push for my employees to come up with better ways to do things. Whenever they come to me with a problem, I expect them to have a solution and they are very much aware of that. I give them the time, and resources needed to work on their ideas.”

Describe a time when you had to think “outside-the-box” and how did you go about it?  

The theft deterrent box is one innovation in which Brad had to think “outside-the-box.” According to Brad, “we had to figure out a way where electricians could still access the light pole. We came up with a clamshell design that had hinges and would allow us to open the box up. I bought a bunch of locks that are typically used for pop machines and used those to secure the boxes. This allows the electricians to access the box with a key, take the lock off, open up the clamshell and access the inside of the light pole. I say ‘we’ because it’s always been a group effort.”

Why do you feel that innovation is important at CDOT?

“I think innovation is important because employees feel more evolved and part of the process. They take pride in their work when they can say ‘Hey, I created that or I designed that.’ For example, you take a totally quiet person who just does their thing and then they create something to make their life or job easier, and they are proud of that. We give them a little recognition by patting them on the back and sending them to lunch. We tell them they did a good job and we appreciate their innovation and it makes them feel proud of the job they’re doing here.”

Do you have any encouraging words for other CDOT innovators?

“We have a lot of creative people here,” Brad says. If there are any encouraging words that other fellow CDOT innovators can take away, Brad suggests: “Just keep plugging away and trying to be creative because your idea might take off someday.”

For questions or additional information, email Brad Bauer at [email protected].

Learn more about successfully implemented Lean Everyday Ideas here.

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