At 6 feet 8 inches, consultant Bruce R. Frank is an imposing figure. But it's the 30 years of business experience the former professional basketball player has accumulated that he says helps him tower over his competition.
Frank, 51, is the founder of Bruce R. Frank & Associates, an Indianapolis-based consulting group that helps life-sciences companies develop business strategies.
So far, he has found most of his clients outside Indianapolis: Frank spent seven months on the road last year.
The effort paid off, generating a best-ever $250,000 in annual revenue, but it took a toll on him and his family. Now Frank's goal is to maintain that momentum while staying in town. He challenges Indiana businesses to use local consulting talent.
"I want to be part of the diversification of Indiana's economy," Frank said. "If we don't think we're any good, nobody else will. You don't have to be from out of town to be an expert."
An East Coast native, Frank graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 with a degree in biology and a passion for basketball that ultimately gave him a leg up in business.
Recruited to play professional ball in Europe, Frank suited up for the Universitaet Sport Club in Freiburg, Germany, and before long learned to speak the language.
When he realized basketball wasn't going to make him rich, Frank returned to Penn for an MBA in finance at its prestigious Wharton School.
After that, he was hired by McKinsey & Co., an industry leader in business consulting, to work in its Dusseldorf, Germany, office. He spent four years there before being transferred to Chicago in 1983.
"I was an experiment in diversity," Frank said. "I was the first American to work in their office. It was an attempt to integrate [Americans] into the whole international structure of the company."
Later, Frank joined Boehringer Mannheim Corp., a German pharmaceutical and diagnostic products company, where he worked from 1990 to 1993 before transferring to Indianapolis.
Swiss company Roche Group purchased Boehringer Mannheim in May 1997, and after the "fourth or fifth reorganization," Frank said, his position was eliminated.
So he struck out on his own.
Frank sells his business development knowledge and experience. As a consultant, he first determines "who cares about a product and where it would add the most value," then identifies competitors and potential partners before offering his recommendations.
Although he's the only person on the permanent payroll, Frank works with contract employees to help when the need arises.
Terri Pascarelli, former president of Indianapolis-based Integrity Pharmaceuticals hired Frank to develop a market strategy.
"As a small business, we had the need to do some market assessment and strategic thinking," Pascarelli said. "We understood we just didn't have the capacity within our staff to do day-to-day work and tackle some of the projects. Bruce came in and got engaged and was an extended member of our company."
West Lafayette-based QuadraSpec Inc., a company working to commercialize protein-diagnostics technology, hired Frank to identify potential markets for the company.
"The results [Frank] provided re-established my faith in engaging a third-party expert to provide commercial support for my company," CEO Chad Barden said.
But that doesn't come easy. One of Frank's biggest challenges is having sufficient time to market his services.
"I don't have the name that IBM has, but I will challenge them to deliver a better product," he said confidently. "When you hire Bruce R. Frank & Associates, you're looking at who you get.
"You don't get a kid that you have to train for three weeks before he knows your business or industry. You get a guy who comes in Monday morning and by Tuesday, we're making progress."
Consultant Bruce Frank spent seven months on the road for business last year, but hopes to find more local clients.