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Logo of ASI 2016: Called. Chosen. Committed.

What We've Learned in Business

Radim Passer Steve Dickman Ed Zinke Denzil McNeilus
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  • August 4, 2016
    3:30 PM
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Our Heavenly Father we want to thank you for the privilege of us to be able to be here to talk about your work and more day. No we're talking about business but also Lord we know that it is your business and that we are just two words of your of what you've given us Lord we pray that day as we talk about your business and reach people in our marketplace. We pray that only your movie that our words will become your words but most of all we pray that all honored worrying pre's goes you and you alone less bless the people who hear this message that they will be carried in their hearts and use it. Your Honor and Glory. We have in mind and our first part of the lesson is we're going to have each one of the three people on this on this panel tell a little bit about their or history for this couple minutes so that you know what their business is and what they've been involved with and where they are to this point. So we're going to let our president Steve Dyckman he's going to be the first one to share with us. OK it's time to tell the truth right down so it's the truth. I've never taken a business class in my life. Except in the School of Hard Knocks. OK. I was raised in ministry and the sporting ministry field grew up and sporting ministry. Finished a degree in engineering went to. Went to work in the engineering field. And then got called me back to ministry. And when I showed up back in that kind of business. It was a surprise to me when I say it surprised me a hint planned for that I hadn't really trained for that that was my focus but I learned very quickly that a couple of things and that is that experience is going to be a good teacher and so I came back to Harvard Hills Academy as as principal for. And then transition to President general business manager a few years later and I've been there about twenty five years doing that. And so my experience is was never in business. It was more from the ministry side but God has taught me some very interesting lessons over the years. And so that's kind of my experience of coming to this understanding and and so I hope that maybe if there's a few ministries here today something that some of the lessons I've learned some point might be valuable to them the. You know I would just say this God leads in mysterious ways. It seems like that the path he leads us on is not necessarily the path that we would choose. And so I've just found in my own experience for instance coming into ministry and having to think about and begin to learn how to manage a ministry from a from a business standpoint. And if you're in ministry you already know that or you're not in ministry anymore. And you have to manage things they don't manage themselves. And so but God is faithful in that he can you can take us if we're willing and he can teach us. Not always the easy way but we do get taught so praise God for that if you met with After know my name is Jim Buss and you can understand them. You know you have to concentrate a lot to understand my mom who don't smoke during glitch. I am a less than three thousand beaks old. And I have to I have to the I grew up in the former to console market new wrinkle during communist and I was wrong. Believe it or. And in one thousand nine hundred ninety one after that with. Evolution in our county I started my own business in a real estate and first seventy years. I I did business as a nonbeliever. Then in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight got changed my life. I accepted Jesus as my son Savior and it was the most important change in my life and the best and the best decision which I. Which I ever made. And from from that time they are a little bit untypical developer because we are doing just one project about the Big enough. This is about one hundred acres in a good location and Brock mostly. This is a business park but there are even other function like a residential and retail and Sports Center. And I can speak her bit later about it and let it basically OK Thank you. I never expected to be in business either. You know started out in the ministry. And was committed to the ministry. And shortly after I started the ministry I was called to the General Conference to work in Biblical research. That was a real shock to our financial system. We had always hoped that my wife would stay on with the kids and when we got to the Washington D.C. area really we realized that was an impossibility. We had dreams of buying a home and our friends were all buying beautiful panel homes for twenty thousand dollars or it's Remember this is a few years ago but nonetheless we thought certainly if we went to thirty. We could buy a house you know thirty percent more than my friends were buying homes for. A realtor. Was happy to show us the homes. And you didn't need to open the screen door it was there was another minute. When you got out of the car you were afraid to get out of the car you to for sure if you'd be able to get back and by the time the neighborhood cut through with you. So it was quite an awakening for us and. So we realized that and would have to do something so we started working on things that she could do at home. But actually tried three or four things without success. Fortunately we didn't give up and by the way that's not totally uncommon with entrepreneurs to try several times. And then my dad said Why don't you try nuts. Now it was a business plan that took us for thirty five years. Why don't you try and that's so we tried. Fortunately the General Conference was working with us and went down to the general conference during the noon hour. And so I don't remember who was pounds or dollars But anyway eight hundred whatever it was on ones and wallets all in the noon hour in fact in less than an hour she got home and everybody was calling her you know it likes more would like more. And so we never dreamt it would be anything more than something to keep her home. But the kids. We doubled every year. That's not too hard when you start with a small business but we doubled every year and at the end of eight years our home was way too small to handle this. And so I have time I'll tell about a government official work things out. So we can do what stay there a few months longer but anyway then we moved into a warehouse more than sixty seven years we had rented all the warehouses around us a little bigger bigger warehouse. And six or seven years we had rented all the houses the warehouses around out to another one and then six or seven years we were spread into love and warehouses which was. You know inconceivable to operate that way and then only bought a property in North Carolina which was two hundred thousand square feet. We thought it was a last us till the Lord comes and with them a few years we were buying or renting warehouses around there are prime customers or. Walmart Sam's Costco and Target. If you'd taken those away you would have taken away ninety percent of our business we sold in two thousand and eight and one of the reasons I sold was so that I could get back into ministry type of things I don't feel I have a chance but I can talk about that later give the opportunity to you. So you read so them. And went back to the things I've been doing before with the General Conference and with other S.T.A. institutions. OK great. Thank you. But I'm done so. McNeil listened. I started out in a family business and where we started building concrete mixers in garbage trucks started as a small operation and built our first mixer in one thousand nine hundred seventy six. My father started the business he's walking the halls somewhere here but he enjoys. He really enjoys doing things today like one day churches and creating different types of facilities. Schools and engineering and loves to create loves to build and loves to create to this day. And so I went to work with my father and and my brother we went to work in the business and there were nine manufacturers and we were number night. And we had always paid our tight but we always paid at the end of the year so we decided to do instead what we said to do is that instead of paying at the end of the year. What we would do is we would put so much to tithe and so much. Offering. Every product we sell. At the end of every week we'd have a big spreadsheet that's how we did it a big spreadsheet that we get from our kindness before computers and a big spreadsheet that would tell us where every bank account was and what we had sold that week and then we would put in and then at that and that they would have a line item would put so much a tithe and so much offerings. And we did that our business started to take off and we actually doubled our business in a year and so then we doubled our ties and offerings and our business grew immensely even more than that. We grew and there's all kinds of stories I could tell you and I'll tell you a few of the stories as we go on. We grew we got to be the largest mixer in the United State mix from a fraction the states in the largest one the world and then we went to govern short business and became the second largest in the world in that we also were in the plant business became the largest plant manufacture in the world. Just different. We were blessed we are largest financer of mixer trucks and garbage trucks United States. They thought about banking so when we bought a bank and. And then someone came along and decided that. Asses. We're going to go buy trucks and they decided that they'd rather buy us than we buy them and so to make a long story short we sold and they sold the mixer business and I thought I want to retire and that lasted for about two weeks and my wife looked at me and says this is your office and I'm not your secretary go get an office and go get a secretary and and literally started. We had a small zero bank bank it was a thirty million dollar an asset bank and. In about twelve years now we're at three hundred thirty million in assets. So the Lord has blessed and. When we bought the bank. There are two things that they said we said we had to do. I said for sure. One was that we were going to be closed on Sabbath and the second thing that we were going to pay tithes. And they said they didn't think that could be possible and I said was not an issue and they went ahead and my president the time said. You don't understand he won't buy it unless those two things are met and to my knowledge we're the only bank in the United States that is charter that's approved by the government that we can be tied. And I really believe the Lord blesses and and that's just in a nutshell that's a little bit about what we've been involved with through the years and but the real reason why we're here is to talk about things that we have learned that we'd like to tell you about. And some stories So Steve do you want to start with that and tell us something. Tell us innocent of something's happened to you that they would like to hear what you learned because you said that experience is the biggest education and I always say it's the most expensive education but there's things that we have learned and you know one thing I think is so important is that we can learn from other people and the experiences that we had I notice that there's a gentleman in the audience that had seen quite a while. Tom Zapara welcome Tom and by. Tom and I go back. First time in that time was twenty nine years ago and I tell you I was so impressed with Tom I actually Tom and I would go for walks twice a year and a him and I and we had bounce off ideas and I He was a gentleman that was older than I. It's an you can tell a little bit. Not much older than I. And I would just sit there and walk and we would talk you need six. So tell me what your biggest challenge and I tell my biggest challenge was and he'd say so what are you going to do about it and I tell him that idea and sometimes you say well that's a good idea or have your thought about this or that's really stupid. You know. It depends on the situation but the point is is that he was someone who would be honest with me who would tell me not what I want to hear but tell me what what what I need to do from. Christian Edwin is perfect. And I really cherish that and cherish those talks and actually tell me they're going to go for a walk walk Warrior's Walk because. I still cherish those talks. And I think that's the real the key of being able to be here it is a sign to be is to learn from our our people around us and to understand that we're all working together and you know in our business we have opportunities to reach people and we're going to talk more about that as time goes on but Steve you want to be the first to tell us about an experience an expensive experience that these people can learn from. Well from the ministry standpoint for those of you who are in the ministry I just tell you that I had to learn some difficult lessons in the beginning. You know I've always kind of looked at ministry and and for for Harvard his academy we were a member of the Lehmann foundation it was kind of an organization that was what you would call kind of the mother of the schools and the Land Foundation would was faithful to given encourage the schools and give counsel as to how they should operate and and when I came back to Harvard. It was academy I saw a lot of things that needed to be improved. So I looked around I said you know this this a great opportunity to to go to work here and see if I can improve some things and so I made a list and you know I'm still working on that list today twenty five years later a fact is still in my office and I have it in a book there. And every so often I have to go back and look at that list and realize that sometimes God doesn't work as quickly as we would like. And he sends us into a process and I think the process is mostly for our benefit. And teaches us along the way I remember in the the early days of my experience there is I had taken on the responsibility of being president general business manager of the institution My father retired and think. Our heart and cash flow was always seem to be short and in a supporting ministry those of you who function that environment you probably can understand that to recognise that and. And we had probably at that point about sixty employees and scattered over between. We have a nursing home. Forty nine bed nursing home we operate and you know that runs twenty four seven and it's a lot of involvement and we have a bakery. We have a farm. We have a radio station so just a lot of things going on there in diversity and in addition to the school and so understanding how that worked and whether things were in sync or out of sync and I found that we were drifting in the wrong direction. We were spending more money than we were bringing in on a regular basis and you can only do that so long and something's got to break. Something's not going to work after a period of time and I began to struggle and grapple with how do you understand this and and how do you put your arms around something like this and with no business background Nope never taken a business class in my life. It was it was kind of new to me and I was struggling to understand what do you do. I mean do you just shut down eventually and say that's We tried this and it was fun and it was good or what do you do and so I went to the layman foundation I said I need some help and I showed them the numbers what we were doing and I said you know. I don't really know what to do for sure but I need some help and some of you will know some of the names of the people that point he said around the table to laymen Foundation and one of them was Edwin MARTIN And so I gave my my appeal to them I said I need some help. I don't you know know exactly what to do but I do need some help. Something's got to give here one way or the other and so they didn't send any money but they sent they sent Edwin over and so Edwin came and he set down with me and fact we we went over everything we talked about the numbers and we even went to the bank. He went to the bank with me and we looked at everything and. Talk to the bank you and what the lame foundation to that point is they put a rescue plan in place and they said we're going to put a deposit in the bank that you can draw against for a line of credit and when that's up. That's over. But when he left he said something very interesting to me he said you're you've got to understand that this side of the equation has two parts. There's the income and the outgo and you can't the outgo cannot exceed the end come or this isn't going to work and so I sat down I looked at all this and you know I said a prayer of praise to the Lord because they did put that line of credit and place for us and they helped us and they they gave me that valuable lesson. So you know there's probably not a bunch of people out there who want to invest in the operational cost of a school on a day to day basis you're going to have to figure out how to make this work if it's going to work and if it doesn't work then yeah you're right you're just going to have to shut things down here. But if if it's going to work you're going to have to figure out how to manage it so that. Yes it's true it's it's you know most people the donors will give to capital improvement and they say yes I can see that you're building a building or you're doing something of value that bricks and mortar stuff. It's that's the easy side to raise money for but if you're going to donors and saying our ministry needs. You know fifty thousand dollars a month to stay in business. It's going to be a hard sell. And so I went back and I began to look at the numbers and began to study things and the Lord blessed with some adjustments and and with the help of the lane foundation we were able to survive. And so then I said you know I've got to learn more about this. I've got to understand how this stuff works. And so I began to do a little study on my own and I said I need to understand how to really build a budget that's meaningful. I need to know where every dollar's going and I need to. Know where every dollar's coming from and so over a period of time kind of by the seat of my pants and some help with some counsel from some other people and and you know kind of doing this this thing with with experience as my teacher I began to learn and so I actually came to the point where we ended up with a balanced budget. Praise God for that right. And I learned how in a supporting ministry that there are just certain things that even though you'd like to do right away. You just have to only do it when the money comes in you know. And so I suppose it's really not that much different from a business standpoint cash like they say is king. You have to manage the cash flow and you can't get ahead of yourself and you can't get too far behind on things or somebody's going to come knocking on the door and they're going to want what you have to take care of the bills that you've accumulated and well anyway over the years. God has taught me some very interesting lessons but I remember that being very valuable lesson to me that Edwin came over and sat down with me and said look you've got to do something here to make it work. And if you don't you know somebody else is probably not going to come in and pick up the bill. It's got to work on a day to day basis and so that was probably one of the most valuable lessons I learned and fortunately even that was a hard lesson. It was not all the kind of lesson that results in the closing of a ministry or you know a closing of something that's been ongoing. So I'd say that's probably one of the most valuable lessons I've learned is that you know you have to work on the basis of real income and real expenses. And Accounting is a wonderful thing you know accountants and there may be some here today and praise God for him but they can do almost anything with the numbers. And. And that's wonderful but I learned that there's two numbers that are important. That's how much dollars did you receive and how much dollars went out the door. I'm. Depreciation is a wonderful thing and you have to take that into account and there's other things that are wonderful but that doesn't pay the bill and you have to. So you know I figure out my own system. There's all kinds of accounting systems but I made up venture I made my own little system that I knew how much was coming in. How much was going out and I kept track of that and it kind of me to stay on track. So you know in and I know tons of are used to tell me all that I said you know does or is like two ways to make money either spend more than you make me spend less than you make or make more than you spend. That's true. It's true in ministry it's true and business. But I have to start again one thousand nine hundred eighty when we lost our baby with my life and with my wife so long expected. The only one and we came to Jesus. It was changing point if if my life in my business and one year later in my city. Very close associates from the get go. Parisian stalled my company. So that time in one thousand nine hundred ninety nine I have we have no child and no corporation about the things that go out to be dedicated our lives to Jesus and to us shortly before about this I believe that the evil ban will come with some with some thought I know I had I just didn't know what it would be that time we decided with my wife the evil would be baptized independently of each kind of that I will come to our lives and September ninety nine we were bumped us and twelve twelve days later the company was back and I I did I did also. Contract with God in my hearts in my heart and I promise to be faithful in diets and offering. I think as I came to my life in two thousand and one it was also very important to us as our Europe in Prague first time I've met with then still the will stay in my memories until the end of my life. And to always. When I visited say meetings. I did some promise to God because I've got all of a some inspiration. How I could be useful for got restarted to do some and enjoy the meetings. And go go on in in in time. I remember ten years ago two thousand and six in the last. It was S. a meeting and we brought all the administrators of our trickle so that it trickles like in uni and. Our city conferences and real estate market was on the top at that time and we as a commercial real estate developer we build a building a lease to the international game Benny's and then and then to sell to an institutional investors. And two thousand and six we knew we have two excellent products are two large buildings with a single tenant are on blue chip blue chip companies and. I knew you also the paradox of on the later. What of Sun Sun think inspired me to promise to Gartner I will pay double tight and. And that means double offering is that but offering three increasingly doing it at that time and the percentage and. God always bless. And bless our own work and the time I remember I promised our union president I will pay if I got the bill. I will pay next year to date from our profit and to just get this if I are this if I had it next year two thousand and seven in summer it was the peak of the market. And when we did two hundred percent profit then we supposed And of course that's why or offer money I could be provided to the church and to the offering. And I was. It was one of many experiences to go out. I remember that time here in there as. I spoke about to build in our business buying the church building. And also the I don't just go and in the garden because no Adventists school and in the garden of course and before in Czech Republic and now twenty years later. We planted a church building. We have eighty two one hundred for visitors every Sabbar a man and in the kindergarten and the elementary school. We have over two hundred two hundred children. So we are very grateful to God and the a lot of experiences or maybe I mentioned one more in two thousand and eight. During my prayer. I've got a feeling that in those two thousand and fifteen maybe it will happen in it maybe I will sell some business or something. This. And to it it should be something quite important. And two thousand and thirteen. Because it was just two years before I lit plan C. days fasting and prayer how to how to direct our business because. To be had as the old Egypt seven great years between two thousand and two thousand and seven and then came seven in the real estate seven months so good. Two years but but things got during the. Or each year as we did not spend all the money by sun. I risk investment. And doink a next period to be still. When things got quite OK and to two thousand and thirteen. It was still not too good and the market and to and of the three days prayers and fast and I've got strong feeling and some calculation of course I've got strong feeling that we should not the. Continue in our business but in our business model. So it means. Instead of selling off or at least building Beevor by the building back between salt in the past in the whole business park and to when I finish this thirty days. And in the Bible and prayer I stop on the balcony and I saw it or I rainbow as a grandfather mation as a confirmation of this of this context so it was very nice experiences and now during three years we've bought. In the past we sold nine large office buildings. Now we need to see we have on the advance negotiate think and under another three we are starting so I have just asked if I got will always fulfill his part of our contract the man a man had Yes well some things that we learned from business. One thing that I learned was read to market. Wasn't necessarily my nature. To take care of things promptly immediately. But I soon discovered that that was important in business and how I give you some illustrations. And we were working with Food Lion This is when we were a small company we were working with Food Lion and wanted to sell them some baking nuts. And we thought that they were very interested in what we had to offer but they didn't call us back and didn't call us back and so finally I called the buyer back and said hey what's what's happening to the the baking notes. And he said well you guys offered them to us in a one pound bag and we can't sell a one pound bag. Boy I wish you'd told me that. So anyway. Give me ten minutes. I got back to him in ten minutes with the prices for a ten ounce bag. Just like yesterday and right on the phone he gave me a truckload for three. In order for three truckloads of Olives. Well I learned speed to market. I kept on asking the question how is it that we can be up again. And blue diamond. And. The walnut company and so on and so forth and so I began to realize with transaction. If I can move quickly. I can outpace them because if they had gone to Wal-Mart or other to planters and said we want a ten ounce bag of almost a might have taken them a year to get through all of their administrative system and through the artwork and so on and so forth. Whereas we could turn it around immediately. But I had another experience which helped to explain why we could compete with somebody like a planter's I got a call one day from our POS distortions supplier. We had carefully chosen this supplier felt that they were being. Absolute best in the world. And in fact we helped them with their roasting for a very specific roast and at first they thought that we were crazy when with our sales shot up they said we'd better follow on and bro start us the same as ans wants THEIR of theirs roasted but anyway. So one day I got a call from the seller and said I've got a truckload of red the starship is out on the East Coast. And I need to get rid of it. I thought boy this is strange. These guys never shipped something from California. Listen I have an order for it. So I asked him I said Will. What was the problem. You said well it went to planters and they rejected it for quality reasons. Well I knew this was the best quality company in the world in the chance that there was quality issue with that product was almost nil. So I bought the truck was very nice discount based on his description and also of course with the promise of the didn't meet the description we could ship it back when that truck load got into our dark. I began to realize again why it was that we could we could compete with somebody like planters. About twenty percent of the boxes were open. And at least five pounds were taken out of each box. And then I figured out. That's their quality control system. So. The thing of it is what that particular buyer now. I mean I'm not putting faulty control down it's very very important but with that particular buyer you don't need to check. Twenty five pounds out of every box and twenty percent of the boxes you can look at two or three and you know whether you've got a quality load or not. And then I started asking well what happened to the five pounds that are missing. You don't need that for quality control. Well bunch of those went home with the workers. So I began to see again you know how their clumsy system was holding them back again. I'm not saying there are there may not be times where you have to do that for quality control but in that situation. It was totally uncalled for but the real payoff came for us just before we sold our business. We got a call from Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart said we want to introduce your label we were doing private label with them. That was under their label not under ours courses way better to be able to sell under your own we want to introduce your label thirty six items into a thousand stores and they gave us a date which was a totally unreasonable date to get ready by. So we put things into gear by the way my wife and just came in. Stand up and. An advance out of nuts. That was third apartment to make sure things like this got handled. We were we were on a fast track to get this done. Now the reason. We had to meet their deadline is not that they were being arbitrary with the deadline. They only set their stores once a quarter. Earlier sections at least once a quarter. So what happens if you get there the day after based at the store. That's according goes back into the back room and says there are product would be stale by the time it came out you know whether it would come out the next time around. So. So we had to hit the day that we had to come up with our work that they were happy with we had to come up with mixes that they were happy with. We had to get the printing done for the bags. We had to get the product and we brought in from thirty eight countries where we imported from but had to come in. We had to process it we had to package it. We had to ship it. And so and went to work. She was on the phone with Wal-Mart three four five eight times a day we became like a team with Wal-Mart. And they would make suggestions and we would make suggestion. And then we would we would come to a conclusion together. We got that product into Wal-Mart not just on time we got up there about a week before they'd asked for it to get there was interesting. After that happened. Planters. There a large enough company that usually know what's happening in the market should have had enough intelligence to know that that was coming into Wal-Mart. But they didn't know until they saw it on the shelf and they were pretty upset. So they went to the buyer and kind of scolded the buyer and said How come you didn't give us a chance to do this. And the buyer said and sales of notes is the only cut not company in the world that could have accomplished this. So it was very pleasing for us to have the reputation of speed to market and being able to handle even a request from the large at that time the largest company in the world from a Wal-Mart to get them satisfied and of course to keep our product moving none. Thank you. My experience a little bit different from that to this is that's why it's so good to have different people on the panel. I want to tell you about what happened to me the first time. Our family had always given are like I said our ties and offerings were family also we were we did we didn't mind borrowing money when we had to but at the time we had no debt in our company but yet we had a credit line. My father was in balck area and the communism it just fall out. And you could buy churches and houses very inexpensively. And he was over there meeting with the church people there and they had ideas about taken by in houses and turn him in churches and and do it in a very low cost because they really need to expand the churches over there. So he called me on the phone. He's a dental we there we have this opportunity and we need to I think we ought to we ought to think about making a big commit. But to the church. Tel with this project over there. And I said to debt I says Well you know we don't have the money. But you know we have a line of credit. We can borrow the money. And it was by far the biggest commitment we've ever made to the church ten times bigger than we'd ever made before. And so I said we'll pray about it now call you back tomorrow. So he called me back tomorrow. He says What do you think and I says I think we ought to do it. So we committed to the project and so we committed to the project that was on a Thursday. On Friday my C.F.O. comes into my office and said Denzil I got good news and bad news and I says OK tell me the bad news. He said we have in steel because you got to realize our point use a lot of steel. You know towards it. When we sold the business where he is about one hundred one point six million pounds a week. Out of our facility and and so we had this deal. He said well we had this warehouse of steel. In this warehouse and I thought to myself oh no. And the Mount of the steel in dollars was exactly the commitment we had made. Plus ten percent better I said I thought to myself I look back I went lean back my chair and I looked back and said Lord. What are you doing to us. You've got you know we're committed to this project and now we've got this amount of steel that I got to pay for we don't have that much line of credit and and. At the time we didn't. And then I says Oh OK I got as good news. Tom what is it. That's what I said to my C.F.O. He said Denzil we don't make these type of mistakes but the steel is paid for that we were able to we were able to make our commitment. And never have to borrow a penny and buy so on that. I don't believe we make those mistakes and I don't think we can i literally we looked at research that we couldn't. That mistake. Is just too big a mistake it was too huge and and it just showed us is an experience that you can't give Lord. And now I'm not saying you know if you're if you're if you sell Melky can't sell you can't sell the call's Don't get me wrong I don't flee that but you know when you make commitments. It's amazing how the Lord blesses and so that was the experience that I had that really made home to me that that that how important it is to be in partnership with the Lord and to commit to him. Another experience you're talking like what Ed was saying when I was in I went to Southern College for two years into business classes and I had a marketing book in my my book and I was flying home and I was sitting back in the middle seat of coach section there flying back home and I'll never forget this man comes up and he's mad a cyst on next to me and he slammed his briefcase slam and everything around. And I thought oh boy this could be a fun ride home and so he sees me there and I am my marketing book sitting there in my lap and he he looked at me and come to find out he was a V.P. of Pepsi. And he got bumped from first class and he was mad because he had to sit in coach next to me and I'll never forget that I'm sitting there in there and he says Sonny do you want me to teach of the mark of all teacher the secret of marketing and I won't use the words he used because he's not an Adventist and he said I'd take take care of that whole book throw it away because there's only one thing you need to know and I said Really. OK I'm all ears. Basically I said a nice polite way and he said. He said Give the customer more of what he wants and less of what he doesn't want and you'll be successful marketing and I thought wow that's pretty insightful. And so that's what we started doing in our business but as we started to grow is we would fly customers into our plant and we would fly one to five one to five sets a customer. Would come in a day. Towards the end and we'd sit him down in a conference room and we'd sit him down in a table. And we would say in a couch sitting area and we'd say. Tell us what you don't like about our product and of course you know we'd have the owner in the manufacturer in the and then had a mechanics and they would all be there sitting around the table and of course if they told us something they didn't like about a product. They always had a solution because that's usually how they do that. And so it would say all that's us. That's it that's a problem. How would you fix it. And they would tell us how they would fix it. And so we said all that's not a bad idea. So what we would do then is they would start going through our factory and so they'd take a tour through a factory which would take about four to five hours to walk through the plant and as they walked through the plant. My dad had a had a had a group of we call them farm people who didn't know it were an educated to where they didn't know how they could do things. And they would actually they actually got there we had an engineer there and we had some grass people but we had a whole shop set up for this and why they were on their tour we would committed to metal their idea. And we get the idea we'd sit down figured out that I would go to manufacturing and I'd say OK what would this cost and I go to Operation say what would this cost and how we get on the plant and how I would do for our line in this type of thing. And so we'd sit down for lunch. We'd talk to more about what other questions they had and he says you know let's have a look at that idea you had. And we'd walk up to the plant to Newton they would see a mock of it in metal on the truck and course they'd see that Nick course they liked it because they it was their idea right. And so I say OK it's only going to cost you up seven hundred fifty dollars more per unit we can have it on your trucks and do weeks and we can have in your in your operation within three weeks. What are they going to say OK and then the idea. Was it because one thing we had a policy as a family because you know we always talk joked about our boardrooms my dad and my brother and I is we would sit down say it doesn't make the product better and it makes the product better we'd make the change in to be put into our line the next day. That's how we did it. We'd scrap whatever we had and we just start because we always want to make our product the best it could be. And so it was a great idea. We put it into production. And. And so therefore what happened was is that as we went along. We'd make twenty to forty changes a year into our product. But there are customers ideas. So you know you get you go out to New York and you know how the Yorkers talk Chris you know that now with production with the elections going on. You know how New Yorkers talk a lot more but they'd call up and say you know they start getting after you about your product and that type of thing and then they we wouldn't we would start negotiating and that and the guy would say oh you're too expensive. Then you know how they always do beach up and I say but Lenny. You built this mixer this this idea is yours and this idea is yours. What do you want me to do and he had just say some bad words and then sign on the bottom line and take the border and so you know that the whole idea is that the real secret that we've learned is that you just listen to your customers and try to give them what they want. And pretty soon you let everybody take credit because I can tell you even though there is an idea there. I bet a dozen customers. It was their idea. You know that had this idea because everyone liked the idea from B. of the producers and as a result of that we were able to grow because everybody on there a lot of our major customers had ideas of theirs. That was on our product. So they had ownership and. And so that's the other thing I learned is that you just IS long as you keep like my father always said keep ego in your pocket. You know your profit your profit and let everyone take credit. It's amazing what you can get done. So we're going to open up to some questions that you would have a question that like gas this. Yes or that is eight years ago and at that time the law puts it on my hot that it was time to sell and I had at one time pass it. Income in about thirteen companies in sold out all of all except three. I am listening to the panel. There's a lot of wisdom up there. My struggle is that one of the companies I had we as an owner. I had to Sabbath was a day wraps and when I made the decision. I brought my key people in and explained it to him and I promised them that they want to miss. A day of it usually Saturday was a big day that they wouldn't miss out on any income. I want you know that God supplied them and. But then I sold the division of the company and one of the struggles that I'm having are not this reaching out. One of the struggles I'm have and when I saw that division. I had to one of the in the contract I have to stay on as a consultant. I set the parameters as a Christian now which was is a lot different from the world. I came from. And it dissing is like the battle is is the battle is in that night and then my main company. I have certain corporate clients. The main battle that I'm struggling with it seems like. On on a spiritual level. How do you how do you keep from getting if I can use the word drawing back in. I was going to use another word by the way drawn back in to the world when you're hot is really want to serve God. And it's seems like it's a constant battle because I get calls from some corporations in their lane everything out for you. And then you get out the consulting going on but I've set the perimeters about Sabbath. But yet at the same time I feel I have insurance at all. In my make any sense and I think the question is I want to surrender all and how do I At the same time feel the obligations. To do so. I hope that wasn't to do it with all it's all it's are part of that and if anybody wants to jump in on it. You know I've had I've had some experience with that with the Sabbath issues but actually when it came to the banking industry and that type of thing. And I've also own companies where I've own minority ownership cinema and it's been very difficult. I don't have any more companies were in the minority interest because I found that was too difficult to work out those struggles. So I just made it a point that I'm going to have control but that's me. OK I'm going to have control or else I'm not going to be involved. I can't be involved in it. Because of the Sabbath issues and you know it's amazing how many times my employees agree with it and my business people understand it and they actually appreciate it. And they want to do business with people that have those standards. It's not easy at times because it's tempting. But I will tell you I've seen it so many times it's not tempting to me anymore because I've seen so many blessings from holding up to giving example one time we were doing a grand opening of one of our new banks and when we when we when we did the grand opening they forgot about the sundown. And we had time change. And so in Minnesota. We have time changes it gets to be a problem. So all of a sudden we say we're going to be a. Open till after sundown Now keep in mind in my bank. There are two reasons I make every one of our officers sign an appointment agreement. And in then apply immigrant there's two ways that you can be terminated immediately. One is dishonesty and the other is working on the Sabbath. And I put that in my contracts because in banking. There's a lot of social things there's a lot of things that go on in evenings and things like that and I want to make sure our employees know that we do not want them to work for us on Sabbath. So they know more about our Sabbath than I do when it comes to the times. OK so. So we have this grand opening. And we're getting ready and all of a sudden it says that we're going to be open till five o'clock or five. I have a fifteen minute rule so if we say we're close to five o'clock we close at five fifteen or we said we open a seven o'clock we open at six forty five because I want to make sure that nobody gets upset when they come right at the time and they can go in or have been forbid someone lock the door with someone to come and do business with us. But so a man comes through. We had to shut down early in our police didn't even question it. They said look we had a mistake. We know your belief but we're going to shut down early we just want you know that we may have some backlash from the community because we have this advertising and we're going to close early. So we're getting ready to close a look close the door close the door before sundown and also in this man comes running into the bank. He comes running to the bank and he says I want to I want to get in because we have a special program and everything going on and he said I want to I want to put money in your bank and I want to get the pro special deal that you have going on and I listen to my president talk over here as I'm standing over there and he says I'm sorry sir but we're going to have to close of we're happy to help with you on Monday but I can't take care of you now because we have to shut down because of because of the sun down the seven fish sabot our Sabbath this coming on for our owner and he goes. He goes What do you mean he says I want to put money in your bank he says look you don't realize it's a lot of money you want to put in. He says or you don't understand. It's not a money issue. It's a spiritual issue and that you know our owner will not do business on a sabbath. And he just got really kind of belligerent with and says You mean you won't do business with me even with this amount of money and he says I'm sorry sir as how the money issue I want you know that and he turned around and says I want to do business with your bank and he is now one of our He's one of our top five customers in our bank today but but it's because of the fact that we did a poll our Sabbath issue. It's not easy. I'm not saying it's not easy I get tested with it. People call me up and I have one guy says I said I said I'll come and I'll meet you. Any time you want to go. I just won't do it from sundown to sundown. He said Well then I want to meet you at at at midnight on Saturday night and I said OK I'll be there. I was there and he he drove up he said I never dreamed you'd be there and he was another big pick began to be another big so and so you know I think if you if you. It's not easy. But I think I believe that the Lord wants us to to by by being able to live up to our principles. There's a lot of people that listen to us that I'll give you another example I don't mean to be rambling but I met a gentleman the other day I mean about a year ago and he I ran into him and he was he's was a custom he's a customer of our bank and I met him he says. How are you doing. Denzel and I says fine now. I'm doing great but it's going to get better and he said. So what's going on your business. I says we're really blessed. He says you know that's right. You're a Christian I don't step by your bank you're close on Saturday he said Can I talk to you about that. And I said Sure I said let's go to let's go to lunch and talk about that. And as we're getting to watch. The first thing he says you know I've been reading up on your business and your church. He says very interesting. He says you have a you have a prophet. By the name of Ellen White Don't you think so. Do you handle that you know here's a person you don't even know when he says you have a prophet by a long white. And I says Well you know we believe the whole Bible and we believe that Ellen White meets the test of the prophets and from the biblical standpoint. He says you know I've done some study you know her since I because it took us about two weeks to make this this luncheon. He said You know I really believe there's some truth in what you're saying. I'd like to know more about her. And we spent the whole watched talking about Illinois. And so so so you is a lot of ways that by doing that you can get opportunities to witness. You may also want to add to that question. You know I was just reading in the last couple of days. And Deuteronomy were God was giving counsel to his his nation his nation of Israel and he was saying to them basically do not go into the land that I'm going to give you and make an alliance with the heathen there and you know we read that we think about it in but I think it has some application for still today as we think about even our business arrangements and and and how we arrange things and I think Gary hear you saying that some of this you arrange a long time ago and now maybe the Lord's convicting you differently and that gets to be a tougher deal but I think there's wisdom there for still that we be really careful when we're making arrangements with people that don't believe like we do and I like what Denzel said stay in the majority position stay the owner stay in the majority position and then you can make the decisions and. It's not being a dictator but it's living up to your convictions. I like that and also Well I've been saved. So so I can't I can't fulfill your commitment I think that would be and turn of events. So what I've tried to do is sit down with them and. Xplain to them and then we kind of negotiate sometimes for their good sometimes for my good all the fans and but the film the commitment I think is very very important on any commitments you know matter where you're at by keeping the commandments at the same time. So is there another question. Yes three of you gentleman achieve major sales of companies and real estate and my question is what tactics and strategies did you use that were effective. What did you learn from the process. What would you do a little different. I would like to answer that one. I hope I understand well the question. And I think a very important this what then we also all of a savant to provide to our customers more and they are expecting it to be to provide some more advantages for them to create a nice a working and Iron Man and then this come on the market so that the finitely one of the stuff that is the second one is always to keep your boat to the custom of even if. If it was money if in yeah. Even if you cost the money and I think the most important change doing my long believe it or and but even. Doing business. Of course. After my conversion I was able to ever that real owner of my business. It's not me but I got the means I am just to arc and got this you know now. I think this is the best at the edge. I'm sure that's going to vary by business as to how best to market your product. We actually did very little advertising ourselves. In fact probably under ten thousand dollars worth in our whole history. I was I was actually actually asking about I was actually asking about selling your company not your product but selling it on your company. So your company. OK. Start. Now talk to Denzel they know how to do what they did and they did it and one day. Well we got that one day that took us six months with lawyers to write all the other things go through. Yeah. I just prayed for the gift to give is done from God when they'll be the time for selling it to campaigning because I know and I trust them because I'll invite wrote. Any person any business person who will pray for it to go up and got the bill. Show him. Yes then is the time to sell the company. So that's why I prayed for it. About the. Instead of so the company we started to buy. Another part was your question about how to sell the company or what how to decide when to sell the company protect it. And thinking in negotiating the sale of your company not the timing but when you got into the negotiation the sale what taxes. Did you use what was affected. What was ineffective What did you learn what would you do better. Different. Right OK. Yeah and I'm sure there are many different approaches that also and and there's also has the quick solution. I started actually ten years before we sold to start informing myself on the process. And then we hired an investment banker. That's their business buying and selling. Companies and they helped us start getting ready for that as well. Make sure that your books are really in good order. And you know have a story to tell for your business. Why your business is successful. Why the buyer should buy it. And then they went through a process. They chose one hundred different companies that they thought might be interested in our company and they sent a flyer out with without our name but just enough details so that somebody that was interested could follow. And I think from that they narrowed it down to ten. Very quickly narrowed it down to two three or four. And then we personally sat and talked to each group for a half day and went through what were they met some of our our administration and so on. When we. Finally put it out to bed with those and then chose. We didn't necessarily choose the highest bidder we chose the one that we thought would be best for for our company and the arrangements that they were offering and made a decision from there than mentions the there is a huge process after that to to get to the final ball. Kind of we had a little bit different experience. We actually thought that we want to sell our business we had someone come in and make an offer and we thought we were going to sell it and it was up to two weeks before we were going to sell our business and this was back in one thousand nine hundred ninety one and and what happened was two weeks before we were going to close a terrible article came out about our family and our business. In the business journal. I mean accuse a sudden espionage acoustics of all kinds of terrible things they showed a picture of my father on the front of a mix up front of the magazine and it said the competitors fear him but the rug but the people in town call him God make money. And that was the best part of the art that was the nice part of the article and so the financing fell through and we were devastated. We had to defend ourselves we had to hire forensic people to come in and to do a review of it. We had to we actually put a lawsuit against the. Against the magazine company we actually won the lawsuit and they we built a lot. We gave all the money to the church. That we won with proceeds. Yeah and we and we were devastated we don't know why it happened. I will tell you then that will go eight years later. Eight years later we walk in to buy Osh Kosh trucks and they come in and say we'd rather buy you than you buy us. And to make a long story short we did sell very quickly. And I would tell you in that eight years. We gave to the church over one hundred percent of what we would have gotten for the company in that amount of time in ties and offering. And we got two and at times more for our company. Then we would have a we would have sold eight years before that. So my point is that you know there's sometimes the Lord will lead you one way and it doesn't work out and I will tell you I don't know why I have I mean at the devastation in the work. The worst part. We had was with our church with our people nurture our bet our church members. I remember a fly and in Africa see in the magazine in one of the one of the conference offices. You know I mean it was everywhere are a business customers I flew over the country X. defending ourselves and our business customers. We had faults people it's the law and finally Realistically most of the time when we finally got to the interview they would say we'd say why did you say that to us about us and they said well that's what we would do if we were in their position. You know it wasn't that we did anything wrong because we really we hadn't done anything wrong except I believe that the Lord let us in that way it was a bit at the time it was terrible. But looking back on it. It was a real row blessing. So you know so I don't know if I can answer your question that way because each plate person is different now their businesses work and their companies work but you know at the end of the day the beauty of our of our organization in the thing that I want to make sure we leave with today is that each one of us. Has a spear of influence. You know my wife and I have made a very conscious effort right now in this time in Earth's history. We need to be very bold for our Lord. We need to really be witnessing to our customers because people know I mean look around us. Look what's going on in our political situation look what's going on with whatever alphabet you want to talk about or whatever the political thing is that's today. And what's going on with with ISIS and all this other stuff that's going on this. Everybody knows there's a lot of problems. And you know the very edges that business we know the answer. And people are looking for and I believe that we each one of us. I want to challenge everyone in this room. We talk about what things we can do to be better that we can that we can learn from I'd like to challenge you to use your business to with others. Right now more than ever before. Now I'm not saying get a billboard and do all those types of things I'm saying there are subtle ways that we can witness. And people. It's amazing. I'll say there isn't. Probably every other day someone will come in and talk to me about Christ in some way. Just by ways of just visiting things little things that I've learned for me as I members to put my office and things to do but I really believe that now more than ever we need to be bold and be able to tell others about Jesus and especially no more than ever before. You have any We got a we got to wrap this up in just a couple minutes. You have any last words you'd like to say Steve. I would I would just say that I appreciate being here today and I've learned some things myself even from the questions and. I would say to those in ministry that I think the key to business and ministry is probably the same as it is in business and that's to really see God's counsel in everything I've heard that coming through in a number of the answers. Is the Lord has answers when we don't have answers I found that to be very true in my experience when I think I'm to the end of what I can understand the Lord can open something and I said I don't know why I didn't think of that but the Lord provides answers and it may not be the rainbow you see like ride him but he may give you something that bold even to confirm your decision because God is like that he has answers for so if we really ask him. And I think one of the other things that's been very helpful to me over the years is that. Counsel I've gotten from other people. You know you can think you know something. But when you go ask other people and you get their ideas. So getting counsel is extremely important. I know some of you came here today to ask some of those questions and to get counsel but you know. Don't be afraid to reach out and get counsel from people. Another thing that I found to be helpful is don't be afraid to admit you've got a problem. Sometimes that's half the battle. You know it. Meaning you got the problem. So just a few things that encourage you with writing. I believe we are living in H. of H. of time. And I believe also can go up again and put us in some position in the business to be his last because. I have also every week possible of this to speak with other people from business and I remember. About the last even and. I it's a very probable if I sell my business now. Probably I think I would not be able to talk with. Some people you know the man who I'd like to kind of share. What my thoughts were running our business. When we got new business. And what our thoughts were around selling the business. I had worked at the G.C. for fourteen years and so and was still active when I went in full time with the business but I wanted to be able to spend more time on the projects that I'd been working on before I went full time with them and sell some notes and. I have a real burden for. Had been a surge occasion. And so the business part of a gave us access to the funds and and to the venue's in which we could influence in one way or another admin a study cation. And this is just some of the types of activities that I've been able to do work in the sale of our business. About fifteen different committees at the General Conference and I'm not on a committee unless I feel I can make a difference there because it gets pretty boring to sit a chair for a long time. You know you have to have a purpose for being there and I'll just mention some of these the faith and science Council by the way that's that's a fun committee to be honest very creative committee. There are about forty people on that committee from scientists to theologians to businessmen were working on strategic plans for the church and so it's a real privilege to be on that committee and that committee does need funding in order to operate is partially funded by the church but not sufficiently to do the things that we have within our scope. So then that's the faith and science Council of the faith and science Council. Is conducting up to seventeen faith and science conferences this year in different visions. And those will be ten days just ten days each up to a thousand people in attendance at each one. And so that's that's a lot of work to pull that together to get the speakers together to get the divisions working together so that a lot of people to listen people to speak purposes to be there and so on. So that's that's in the works. I'm vice chair of the widest age it's a real privilege to have input into what they do there. On the I.B.M. to which is. Our the theological Committee of the church which gives some direction to education hope channel board. An advisor to the administration you have a great time working with Bill not on various projects on Andrews University board Oakwood board and then years ago I recognized. It's important for us to have some scholarship program for our theology people. I was asking myself why is that they almost always choose a liberal when they're looking for a teacher for one of our colleges. And then I figured out at least one of the reasons and that is that liberal is more likely to go and get a degree on their own rather than a conservative. So when it comes time to hire somebody the liberals slate is the only one they have so worked with several people on there and you know the Lord provides they've worked with me. So we now have a scholarship program we have well over one hundred Ph D.'s worldwide who have been hand selectors and trained some of these or even vice presidents of the General Conference now presidents of divisions presidents of schools and so on and so forth. So that's been a very rewarding program and then a few years ago I realized that earth and biological sciences at Loma Linda needed the same kind of help they had the only program in the world where you can get a P.H.D. in biology or in geology from a biblical perspective. And it looked like that school was going to turn closed down. Fortunately I found out about just a day or two. Before that happened. Was able to start working with them and they now have as many students as they can handle bright students from around the world who are soon going to start graduating Ph. From that program people dedicated to the Cause of God and through the doctrine of creation. And so projects that deal with biblical foundations rather than having a philosophical foundation for education or for theology having a biblical foundation. Now the Lord has placed us in the position where we can have that kind of influence. So I praise him for this. Maybe some of you today are thinking about selling your business you know and how you would use those I prefer taking the proceeds from what you've done and putting that investing that God cause in his work. So you have a business today. If you're here as a business owner. Thank you for coming. I know that God is going to do something with what you've learned today and he's going to send the Holy Spirit to convict you. Maybe on a certain issue or to encourage you in a certain way and I just want to say that I believe that this panel is willing to get a can phone call. If you need some help some personal counsel. So yes afterwards I'm sure they'll share their wealth of information with you and help you in any way they can you know A.S.I.S. here to encourage business people to think Biblically. And to act biblically not just to be a mediocre force but to encourage people really to think clearly about the way God would do business. If he were here. And so we thank each one of you for coming today dental any closing thoughts. The only thing we'd ask you to do you all have this paper in front of you. Before we have prayer or after we have prayer fill it out and hand it to the back row. This gentleman right back here is racist and this to them and we invite your comments and suggestions as I always want to try to have you want. So please. Tell us what you like and maybe what you don't like you've just got nothing but know. But tell us what you didn't like about it and tell us how you'd like to see it changed so that we can make sure that in the future we could have a better off a better seminar that's that. Let's stand. Whoever was in prayer. Father in heaven. We have gathered in this room today with a desire to know your will in regard to our ministries and businesses and and how we run things and how we operate for you. And we're just praying today that whatever idea you have impressed upon our minds we'll take it home. And will not let it sit on the shelf but we'll act on it and we pray today for a blessing on each business represented here. We're just sent down your spirit to encourage and to guide in each case and Lord may each one of us use the resources that you put under our management to your glory. And we pray today that you will take from this place the business minds that are here and send them into the world to be witnesses for you. Lord we know your coming soon. And like Ready him said you have promised to tell us when we should change when which is selling when we should do these things and so just give guidance and direction to us that we may bring on or to your name and glory to you in Jesus name we pray this medium was produced by Audi of forty and song Adventists layman's services and industry. If you would like to learn more about that site or if you would like to leave the body of verse.

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