You have to like a CEO who doesn't try to take credit for the wind. This week's recipient for the "I Didn't Try to Take Credit for the Wind" Award (yeah, I just came up with the name) is Brady Corporation (NYSE:BRC) Chief Executive Officer and President Frank Jaehnert.

In Brady's most recent quarterly earnings conference call, held Tuesday, Jaehnert noted that Brady's exceptionally strong results for the quarter came not just from operational improvements and a key acquisition, but also from economic tailwinds in Asia and in the U.S., adding "we were surprised ourselves about the strength of the first quarter."

If you're like me -- and I can only hope for your sake that you are not -- you spend a not insignificant amount of time pondering things. One of my favorite ponderables is "I wonder who makes that?" For everything that is produced, there is a producer. And though many times the producer is completely obvious -- it is easy to tell, for example, just who makes a Nokia (NYSE:NOK) phone or which company is responsible for the McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) where you are currently noshing -- such is not the case for the die-cut part that keeps the phone's screen in place, or the exit sign at the restaurant. There's a better than even chance that Milwaukee-based Brady Corporation makes 'em. The company makes more than 50,000 products, including labels, signs, die-cut pieces, valve markers, and data collection systems. Most of these products rate extremely low on the glamour quotient, though I would like to get my hands on one of its industrial strength label makers.

While each one of these product offerings may not be huge, the overall business for Brady is massive, and growing at a rate that apparently surprised even those who know it the best. For the quarter, Brady's revenues were $200.4 million, up 32% over last year's, with its earnings coming in at $0.83 per share, almost doubling last year's number. The results are not quite comparable, as Brady made two large acquisitions in the year -- of Singapore-based ID Technologies and Buffalo-based EMED, both of which it bought for cash. Overall, Brady's sales in Asia, now comprising 15% of all sales, soared 64%. The total amount of sales that is accounted for from the acquisitions is 18%. Generally, we find earnings growth from internal sales to have more value to the shareholder than growth from acquisition. Brady, however, had both, and did so without having its long-term debt move a single inch, remaining stable at $150 million.

Over the next year, the company intends to undertake an expansion of its Milwaukee warehouse facility, and notes that its capital expenditures will as such be $25 million, well higher than at present. Of course, such capital expansion projects can depress free cash flow over short periods of time, but can pay off in the long run. Keep watch for the company's continued financial prudence, as it has pledged to continue pursuing acquisitions that strengthen its core markets. Keep an eye on these acquisitions, though. Acquisitive companies like Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE:NWL), Tyco (NYSE:TYC), and others have had difficulties in the past when too much of their top line comes at the expense of their balance sheets.

Bill Mann owns shares in McDonald's. Interested in other companies that fall way below most investors' radars? Take a free trial of Motley Fools Hidden Gems today!