Doug Bruhnke: Building Local Globally

by Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell

Doug Bruhnke’s approach to business, instilled at a young age by family members and bolstered later by his experiences with Japanese culture, has long been, “Whatever it takes.”

It’s that kind of no-holds-barred determination — the Japanese call it “ganbaroo,” a term loosely translated as “do your best” — that has brought the New York native success in his career, which includes more than 20 years with the DuPont Company. Today, Bruhnke serves as president and founder of Growth Nation, an international marketing firm based at ASU’s SkySong Innovation Center in Scottsdale.

“We help people who want to grow their business really grow their business,” says Bruhnke. While he says most public relations or marketing firms specialize in just one area, Growth Nation takes a holistic approach by assessing a client’s needs and implementing a plan. “We actually help execute it,” he says, explaining that, typically, one employee is dedicated to each client account and coordinates with appropriate consultants and marketing or service companies. “We recently had a customer who wanted to have the governor introduce their product, and we got it done. We go the extra mile.”

Bruhnke cites his German grandfather, who “became an entrepreneur at age 50,” as his mentor. Bruhnke spent his boyhood summers with his grandparents, working at their successful machine shop and auto parts store in Long Island. Later, Bruhnke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at the University of Utah and went to work for DuPont, initially as a chemical engineer. But he soon discovered marketing and international business, two niches for which he developed a passion. Indeed, his expertise in both areas, as well as his engineering background, now serves as strong selling points for Growth Nation.

“We do a really good job with companies that have a technical product,” says Bruhnke, who holds five patents from his days at DuPont in addition to an MBA from Michigan State University. “Chemical engineers think in terms of process. It’s actually a very good way to do marketing. We’ve developed a very unique marketing process in which we put together a plan, measure results and then make corrections, sort of like a refinery or a chemical plant.”

It was at DuPont where he became steeped in Japanese culture and its customer service ethic; the “whatever it takes” concept rang true for him and has remained his mantra since. “It is, ‘Whatever it takes — if I have to go to your house, if I have to work 24/7,’” he explains.

For Growth Nation clients, that means Bruhnke has their backs. If they need content for a website, Growth Nation gets it done, even if it occasionally comes without compensation. If clients need last-minute publicity, which they may have declined earlier, Growth Nation steps in and creates a memorable event. It also means finding a backup public relations specialist at the eleventh hour, when the client’s own person has “fallen off the face of the Earth,” as Bruhnke once experienced. “If I do have a fault, it is to commit to things and making [them] happen 24/7,” he says.

Bruhnke’s newest venture, on which he’s working during his own time, is The Global Chamber. Using the spirit of collaboration, which he perfected at DuPont after becoming the first engineer to be placed into the company’s central research department, he’s working to create an international chamber of commerce. One of his goals is to position Arizona as the ideal business environment because it has much to offer.

“It is a ‘doing’ state,” he says. “People execute stuff here.”


Sectors of Strength

Doug Bruhnke launched the enterprise — initially as Stamos International, using his wife’s family name — with the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics as his first client. Since relaunching in 2007 with a new name and a business model focused on marketing, sales and growth, he has worked with organizations that range from small and mid-sized companies to Avnet, Kitchell and Arizona State University. The Growth Nation™ process has created more than $1 billion of new revenue — locally and globally — in these primary areas:

  • Information technology, high tech and cleantech
  • International trade and regional economic development
  • Manufacturing, logistics, industrial, energy, publishing, aerospace and automotive
  • Healthcare, medical, pharmaceutical and life sciences
  • Professional services — engineering, environmental, design, financial, banking, legal, accounting and consulting
  • Government — airports, cities, tribal, counties and states
  • Retail, franchise and small business
  • Real estate and development
  • Nonprofits

Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events