Tag Archives: business

Pushing through today’s ‘red-light-green-light’ business jam

Business was great. The economy was humming. Sales were at all-time highs. Then the pandemic hit.

“Our business pretty much dropped 80 percent across the board,” said Dave Anderson, president of Brand RPM, a Charlotte-based company that produces apparel and merchandise for corporations and athletic teams. 

In late March, most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders, and mandated all businesses deemed “nonessential” to shut down in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which by early June had already killed more than 110,000 Americans.

The shutdowns and social-distancing protocols arguably saved lives and prevented numerous hospital intensive care units from being overrun with COVID-19 patients. But those measures have come at a steep cost. 

More than 21 million people in the United States were still out of work in early June. The national unemployment rose to about 13 percent by late May, a figure not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The country has been officially in recession – since February – and businesses are struggling. Some may not recover.

While weathering the economic storm, some business leaders have deftly adapted their companies to the new reality, repositioning their organizations for growth and charting new paths for a post-pandemic future. Legatus magazine spoke with two Legates who lead companies, one small and one large, to see how the pandemic has changed those businesses, both in the short-term and over the long haul.

Furloughs, pay cuts, new offerings

 Anderson, the president of Legatus’ Charlotte Chapter, said the first three months of 2020 were “the biggest months” ever for his company of 110 full-time staff employees. But as the pandemic hit the United States in earnest, Anderson knew he had to act quickly.

 “The first thing we did was furlough 10 percent of our staff,” said Anderson, who added that everyone else in the company took a 50-percent pay cut. Those moves helped to prevent layoffs.

 Anderson and his team also examined their cash flow and consulted computer models to see what they could expect with the virus-ravaged economy over the next six to nine months.

 “As a small business, if you don’t have cash, you’re out of business,” Anderson said.

 Brand RPM pivoted from its core apparel and branded merchandise business to becoming a large provider of personal protective equipment – face coverings, hand sanitizers, gloves, and disinfectant wipes – to companies such as Lowe’s, which purchased two million masks in April.

 “Funny enough, we had our largest revenue month in our company’s entire 12-year history in April,” Anderson said. “And probably 90 percent of it, I never touched; I just droppedshipped masks from the suppliers to the customers.” 

Anderson said Brand RPM is looking to be a reliable source of “PPE” for companies as they reopen across the country amid their states’ loosening restrictions. Anderson expects the demand for masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves to be steady over the next year to 18 months.

 “We think our overall numbers for the second half of the year won’t be what they were in the past, but we hope that with the pivot to PPE, it’ll help us make up some of the lost ground,” said Anderson, who has already started to bring back some of the furloughed staff employees full time.

 Working from home … works

 One lasting effect that Anderson expects the pandemic to have will be more companies such as Brand RPM encouraging their employees to work from home.

“We were already doing teleconferencing and videoconferencing,” Anderson said. “I think that will be a more common theme moving forward as more companies see that working from home really works.”

By mid-October, Anderson hopes his company will have regained its equilibrium, though he added that “everything is a moving target.”

In the meantime, he has found a valuable resource in his fellow Legates and other CEOs with whom he can bounce off ideas and ask questions. 

“We’re all in this together,” Anderson said.

 From millions monthly, to zero

Pat Molyneaux grew his fourth-generation family flooring business, Molyneaux, into a thriving enterprise with 12 locations in Pennsylvania. But within a week of his state shutting down from coronavirus, Molyneaux suddenly had to lay off 95 percent of his employees.

“We went from making close to $2 million a month in revenue to zero,” said Molyneaux, a founding member of Legatus’ Pittsburgh Chapter.

“We grew this business in my 30 years here… and overnight it’s taken away,” Molyneaux said.

But that reality sparked a conversion of sorts as Molyneaux began to see that he had made the family business into an idol. Having a strong balance sheet and a successful enterprise had become the most important things in his life.

 For Molyneaux, that epiphany cast the first ten verses of 2 Corinthians 12 into sharper focus. In those verses, St. Paul speaks of being given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble, and how God’s power is made perfect in someone’s weaknesses.

 “For a co-owner and member of the executive team, that is the verse for these times,” Molyneaux said. “Whether it’s as a pastor, a bishop, or whether it’s as a C-level executive, how can we become both strong and weak?”

 Molyneaux identifies strength as having the capacity for meaningful impact, and weakness as vulnerability.

 Grace makes business stronger

“After I repented and hit that point of deeper conversion,” Molyneaux said, “I feel like the Lord was opening my mind and giving me the grace of more creativity around what we needed to do to use this opportunity to make the business stronger. I feel like that was a grace.” 

Molyneaux said his company has started to change its primary business model from showrooms in brick-and mortar buildings to a “shop from home” approach where a design consultant visits the customer at home. 

“That’s the way the industry is going. People want that convenience. Most of our shopat-home appointments are through the roof this month,” said Molyneaux, who added that in-store appointments were already on the decline but that the pandemic accelerated that trend. 

Molyneaux said this year also provided an opportunity for his company to move into kitchen remodeling. Those changes may not have been possible before quarantines and social distancing forced him to reexamine his approach to business.

“As human beings, idol worship is a real temptation,” Molyneaux said. “I think often our businesses, what we accumulate through our businesses, can become idols. The rhythms and processes of work can become idols. This gave us a chance to expose those idols.”

 BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

And then there were ‘nones’

How Business leaders can evangelize unchurched millennials in the workplace

They don’t believe in much of anything. They seem apathetic with regard to matters of faith. They might admit to atheism or agnosticism, or they might simply describe themselves in terms like “spiritual, but not religious.” They might have some vague belief in God or Jesus, but they don’t identify with any particular religion or denomination. And they’re not even “searching.” Predominantly, they are young millennials, born between 1981 and 1996; some 40 percent of millennials self-identify in this category, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Collectively, they are the “nones.” Millennial “nones” populate all sectors of the workforce — professionals, technicians, academics, tradesmen, and service workers. And for their managers and co-workers who feel called to lead them toward faith, they present a significant challenge: Who are the “nones” among us? Can they be reached at all? And if so, can it be done within the workplace environment?

Faith at work

Traditionally, companies that don’t have an explicit religious mission have not been friendly to religious conversation or expression. Because religion is seen as a potentially divisive issue, it’s largely been a matter of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But that’s been changing in more recent years, as some business leaders are seeing a case to be made for allowing religion in the workplace. Yet these are the exception, and tensions often persist.

“I think evangelizing is more challenging today because I believe Christianity is under wraps,” said Mike McCartney, an executive coach who is director for Legatus’ Genesis Chapter in northwest Ohio as well as a member of Legatus’ National Board of Governors. “If some companies have made a move toward allowing greater religious expression, especially Judeo-Christian, I’m not seeing it as a trend.”

He sees the opposite, in fact. “Corporate America likes to tout values like ‘spirituality’ and ‘servant-leadership,’ but companies do not dare give voice to what these words truly stand for,” he said. Instead, secular business values like diversity, inclusion, and political correctness prevail, which often leaves practicing Catholics viewed suspiciously as “narrow-minded, judgmental, even bigoted.”

Publicly owned companies can present special issues. While each has a unique dynamic, the overriding corporate culture is highly secular. Companies that have proactively sought to lead and celebrate social change have grown more tolerant of traditional faith and values and are increasingly transparent as to what is celebrated and what is tolerated, said Gerald Schoenle, director of global trade services for the Ford Motor Company.

“In this environment, there are opportunities to reach out to ‘nones’ to share our faith and personal relationships with Jesus and our loving Father, but there are at least two challenges to overcome,” said Schoenle, a Legate of the Ann Arbor Chapter and a past member of Legatus’ National Board of Governors.

First, the interaction needs to be welcoming, he explained, done in private so as to avoid disruptions and “exposure of the ‘none,’” and with sufficient time to enable a quality dialogue.

Second, when the sharing is between a company executive and a lower-echelon employee, executive leaders must have full awareness of how their positional leverage impacts the dynamic with an employee, he said.

“We have to discern if someone is truly seeking and open to discussion, or is uncomfortable and simply being agreeable to avoid a negative response to a senior leader,” Schoenle said. There is often “an associated, perceived professional risk that is most always imagined but a real concern.”

Outreach from the top

There are a number of examples where business leaders of faith have created opportunities for Catholic evangelization both inside and outside the workplace.

McCartney cites the examples of two Legates from his own Genesis Chapter in Ohio: Rich Cronin, president and owner of Perrysburg Auto Mall/Cronin Buick GMC, and Brady Fineske, president of TDC Investment Advisory Services in Maumee. The two men are “bold examples to me personally of leaders who live their Catholic faith in the workplace,” he said.

“Both have hosted Catholic events inside their organizations and made them open to all employees,” said McCartney. “I’m confident their good examples are not lost on the ‘nones’ working in their organizations.”

As board chairman for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Toledo, Cronin also has spearheaded a series of Catholic Business Network events locally, featuring a monthly Mass and guest speakers. These are open to all, and network participants are encouraged to bring guests. “This puts ‘nones’ in the company of many practicing Catholic business people,” McCartney said.

Over at Ford, Schoenle said opportunities to evangelize “nones” and other co-workers have increased despite its publiccompany status. Years ago, Ford developed and launched an Interfaith Network resource program open to employees of all faiths. Its activities are largely ecumenical, such as a National Day of Prayer service, but there are also programs that are specific to particular faith groups and denominations.

“Our Catholic group has conducted Life in the Spirit Seminars and an Oremus Prayer study in order to be a witness for Christ and a visible example of Catholic Christianity in our company,” he said.

From ‘none’ to truth

When it comes to reaching out to “nones” in the workplace one-on-one, McCartney and Schoenle agreed on the basic principles: it involves being present, building trust, and taking the time.

 “In my experience, an extended process with God’s grace bears the best results,” Schoenle advised.

“Be visible with your faith, so others clearly identify you as a Catholic Christian,” Schoenle said. For him, this means displaying in his office a small cross, prayer books, and a copy of the Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI.

 He also witnesses subtly in casual encounters. “In general conversation about family, I’ll talk about an experience one of the children had in their Catholic school, or something about my oldest son’s work in Catholic radio,” he said. “An easy, regular opportunity is how you respond to the question every Monday, ‘How was your weekend, and what did you do?’ This is an excellent chance to briefly share about an important feast day, a presentation you heard, a conference or retreat you attended.”

Overt discussions of faith come later, he said, once a level of friendship has been established.

 “Build relationship and trust, then evangelize,” said Schoenle. “We know that others don’t care about what we say or recommend until they know we care and can be trusted. This requires time and effort to build a friendship and demonstrate love for them.”

Abetted by prayer, this process should open up a communication path that facilitates a more positive reception to our encouragement toward embracing faith, he added.

McCartney resonated with that, emphasizing that living our Catholic faith by word and example must happen in the workplace as well as outside it.

“Opportunities to lead souls to Christ by example at work are unlimited,” he said. “In fact, if we are not leading by example, we are not leading—period.”

That begins with integrity — integrating our faith within our lives and aligning our actions with our words, he said. Integrity is foundational to credibility, and credibility, which builds trust, is essential to leadership. But evangelizing by word “requires more discretion,” he noted, meaning we must consider whether the time and place are appropriate.

Still, “Good leaders look for situations to share their convictions, like faithbased beliefs, in a way that communicate trust of those listening,” McCartney said. “And if the leader is credible, his or her words carry weight.”

Begin with questions

When a specific opportunity to reach out to a “none” arises, McCartney said he would begin by learning where the individual is on his faith journey by asking “a few simple, non-threatening questions” that will encourage him to share his story. That helps cultivate the kind of trust and relationship needed to accompany the “none” on a journey toward faith.

And that’s not a one-off endeavor, but a long-term commitment.

“Religious beliefs are usually a result of a longer process than one conversation,” he said. “I’m in it for the long haul. The more I earn someone’s trust, especially someone who has no faith, the more influence I have to encourage the person to learn about the one true Faith.”

“Nones” are not always easy to relate to, whether due to generational gaps, diverse backgrounds, or cultural differences, but the example of Christ tells us we must seek out the lost sheep in order to lead them home.

“The old saying ‘Meet them where they are’ has merit,” McCartney said. “Just don’t stop where they are. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me lead them to the truth.”

 GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine editorial consultant.

 

Four steps to workplace evangelism

Writing in Catholic Answers magazine, staff apologist Michelle Arnold recently offered a four-step technique for sparking a faith discussion with a co-worker:

  1. Ask sincere questions that show genuine interest in the other person. That means questions the person will enjoy answering — that gets the ball rolling. But watch for any hints that the question is unwelcome.
  2. Find common ground. Don’t water down what you believe, but seek interests or past experiences that you share. Those help advance the conversation.
  3. Share personal experiences. You’ve got stories; they’ve got stories. When you share them comfortably, mutual trust grows.
  4. Offer resources — when the time is right. Whether it’s a book, a website, a parish group, pass something along where they might explore faith on their own. “Your enthusiasm may inspire people to want to learn more,” Arnold said.

On-the-job evangelism isn’t easy, but you don’t have to be an apologist to do it well: “You just have to genuinely care about other people and Be able to project that love for them into your conversations about the Faith,” Arnold concluded.

Business travel: pilgrimage or occasion of sin?

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11)

The ordinary experience of a Catholic business traveler provides opportunities for both spiritual growth and evangelization. It also can be a time where we might be tempted to sin and compromise our commitment to virtue. As someone who travels constantly for business, I thought I would pass on some of my habits formed to make these trips into mini-pilgrimages.

Begin the trip well

  • Pray the rosary while waiting to board the flight.
  • Make the sign of the cross and pray the rosary again upon takeoff.
  • Make the sign of the cross and offer a blessing before eating any in-flight food.
  • Make another sign of the cross upon landing.

While these slightly conspicuous Catholic practices might attract looks, they also frequently create an opening for dialogue with other faithful or those searching for spiritual comfort.

Take a stand at check-in

  • Request in advance that there be no alcohol in the minibar. Stop patronizing hotels that demand an exorbitant fee for alcohol removal.
  • Insist that “adult” cable channels be disabled or that the cable be completely disconnected.
  • Ask for the location of the nearest Catholic church and its weekday Mass schedule.

Alcohol and pornography can be sources of temptation. They also are at the foundation of much human sex trafficking, and business travelers form a prominent client base. Be part of the countermovement by taking a stand.

Sanctify the room

  • Travel with a vial of holy water and bless the hotel room immediately.
  • Place a small crucifix and blessed saints’ medals on the desk and next to the bed.
  • Carry spiritually nourishing material, such as the Legatus Timeless Prayers for Busy People.
  • Free hotel wifi is overwhelmingly used for pornography, and Catholics are not immune from this temptation. My work computer prevents me from using hotel networks. Sticking to business electronic devices is a good strategy. If using personal devices, software such as Covenant Eyes can offer protection.

As there are no eyes on you in your hotel room, invite God’s eyes and spiritual protection into that space.

Begin pilgrimage upon waking

  • If possible, get up early, pray, and exercise.
  • Visit that Catholic church identified at check-in — if not for Mass or Confession, then at least to offer an oration.
  • Be on high alert about business entertaining. I frequently make excuses to drink nothing at all or have at most one or two glasses of wine.
  • Speak openly about your Catholic faith and other wholesome subjects such as family and books. Never join in any vulgarity.
  • Get back to the hotel early and call home. These are trusted best practices, but we must be equally committed to keeping our business guests and colleagues spiritually safe too.

Return home with spiritual impact

  • Drop a note to the hotel management requesting pornography blockers on the hotel wifi. (Let’s start a movement!)
  • Thank hotel management for any signage in the hotel alerting guests to signs of human trafficking.
  • Drive like a Christian.
  • Use the constant irritations and stresses of travel to imitate Christ. Forgiveness is the antidote to stress.
  • Consume no alcohol on the flight home. Look forward to a glass of wine with your spouse instead. The armor of God is effective. Use it and stay safe!

JONATHAN TERRELL is the president of the Washington, D.C., Chapter. He is founder and president of KCIC, a Washington-based consulting firm that helps companies manage their product liabilities.

Caterer for Christ cooks for most needy

2019 Ambassador of the Year serves with palatable faith

Craig Henry, a founding member of Legatus’ Lafayette-Acadiana Chapter, was honored as the 2019 Ambassador of the Year at the Legatus Summit East in January.

Henry, 51, runs Holy Trinity Catering, a ministry that serves meals for church groups, civic organizations, the poor, and those who find themselves in need during a disaster.

A married father of three, Henry is also the managing owner of Bradford Food Group, a U.S.-based food distribution company that co-owns multiple bakeries in Mexico. He sits on Legatus’ Board of Governors. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How does it feel to be the 2019 Ambassador of the Year?

It’s a fantastic feeling. I think I’m receiving the award because I’m trying to truly live out the mission statement of Legatus. I’m just trying to be an ambassador for Christ in all areas of my life, especially in the aspect of helping the poor and helping kids stay Catholic, especially high school and college kids. A lot of the work I do with Holy Trinity is tied to keeping folks connected and involved with the Catholic faith.

How did you get into the food business?

I went to work for several national chains right out of high school. I started out with Sonic Drive-In and ended my career with a company called Old Country Buffet.

When did you venture on your own?

I always did a lot of cooking for different charity things, but I was kind of piece-mealing it from the back of my truck. In 2017, when Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, Acadiana [in Louisiana] was home to many of those who were evacuated or displaced. I was approached by Catholic Charities to help coordinate and feed some of those evacuees. I rounded up a bunch of volunteer help, and we ended up serving 600 to 700 people. The love and appreciation we were shown brought me pure joy. That’s when I realized I needed to be more organized.

What is the mission of Holy Trinity Catering?

To keep people focused on what Christ has called us to be and do. Cajun people are known for their culture and their food, and it’s a good way to bridge the gap and brings folks together. I cook traditional Cajun food. Many are dishes my grandmother cooked for our family. I even came up with a little slogan: “Made with faith and seasoned with love.”

Where does your strong Catholic faith come from?

I attribute it to my late grandmother, my dad’s mom. She and my grandfather were the epitome of the Catholic faith. I grew up in a very small town. They were the keepers of the little mission church in town. It wasn’t uncommon for me to walk into her house to see her sitting at the table praying the rosary. I didn’t understand her dedication to the rosary as a younger guy. Once I joined Legatus, I was on a Men’s Enclave with Tom Monaghan and others. Tom challenged me to say a rosary every day for the rest of my life. I made that commitment, and now I understand why my grandmother was so faithful to it.

How has Legatus impacted your spiritual life?

We attended the Legatus Summit in 2014, where I had a life-changing moment in Confession. It reignited my faith like nothing else. Legatus does so much in helping you be secure with what your faith is and how to live it. It gives you so many tools and opportunities to grow. Our circle of friends is all tied back to the Church because of our commitment to Legatus.

Craig Henry truly personifies the mission of Legatus through all aspects of his life and example. He is exemplary of the role the New Evangelization plays in the Church, as evidenced through his Legatus experience and transformation that resulted in his embrace of the faith. He has become the Ambassador of Christ in the marketplace that we all strive to be.

Women with top focus

Ten percent of Legatus’ qualifying members are women. Three of them, Tillie Hidalgo Lima, Lisa Kazor-Christovich, and Pam Veldman, talked with Legatus Magazine about their professional journeys to the top. Although they have built impressive companies, all three agree that God and family are their greatest treasures.

Lightening Life Chores – For Better Business-As-Usual

Tillie Hidalgo Lima and her husband, Dave, are members of the Cincinnati Chapter. Tillie is the CEO of Best Upon Request (bestuponrequest. com), an on-site national concierge service provider for two business realms: for employers looking to improve employee recruitment, retention and engagement; and for healthcare providers, for improving their patients’ experience. It is a unique business that helps people to feel valued – serving employees, hospital patients, and pregnant/new mothers.

For employees, the service helps lighten outside responsibilities so they can better focus at work. It includes conveniences such as mailing packages, helping find a repairman, exchanging currency, taking a car in for an oil change, and much more. Non-medical patient concierge services help with things such as shopping for groceries for the family, buying and getting prescriptions, getting help with the admission process. The maternity concierge program for pregnant and new mothers helps with things from planning a baby shower to providing information on what to pack for the hospital.

Tillie worked for 13 years as a pharmacist and manager while their three daughters, Jessi, Natalie, and Sofia were young. Dave acquired the contracts of a concierge company that started in 1989 and then created the innovative concept of an employer-paid employeebenefit concierge program. “In ’96, he asked if I knew someone who was great with people and numbers, and gave me a wink,” Tillie explained.

She laughed and told him: “Dave, you can’t afford me.” However, they did indeed join forces. “My attention to quality, management experience, and looking out for customer well-being were a perfect fit.”

By 2002, Dave wanted Tillie to take over as the CEO. In 2003, BEST had 13 employees; now there are 135 in 44 on-site offices in 11 states. BEST became “Great Place to Work”-certified this year, and is receiving media attention and many awards.

Despite such success, Tillie’s heart was never far from home. In fact, the business has been a family affair. Their daughters would come by the office after high school and help out. Today, all three work at BEST. It was her daughter, Jessi, who developed the maternity concierge program. “She was able to deliver the Maternity Concierge proposal, then deliver her third baby,” Tillie explained.

Dave has taken on a behind-the-scenes role as a Holacracy coach, business advisor, and overall support person on the home front which includes picking up grandchildren after school. “I could not do what I do without him,” she said.

The two older daughters are married with children and everyone gathers most Sundays for family dinner with one strict rule: no business talk. Tillie’s Cuban-born parents, Alberto, 84, and Matilde, 79, often join them from Tampa, FL for the holidays. They came to the U.S. from communist Cuba to escape religious persecution when Tillie was just 10 months old. “My parents had friends shot by firing squads and put in prison,” she said. “There were many miracles of faith, courage, and love. My parents are my role models.”

Tillie’s personal values, the 7F’s, are “faith, family, friends, fitness, financial strength, freedom, and fun.” “Legatus provides a framework for us to grow in our faith,” she said. “Faith should determine how we live out our calling in every environment using the gifts we’ve been blessed with.”

Strong-Women-Led Company – With God First

Lisa Kazor-Christovich and her husband Dan belong to the Washington D.C. Chapter and have a blended family of six children and one grandchild. While Lisa was pregnant with her second child Jonathan, and her daughter Rebecca, was three, Savantage Solutions (www.savantage. net) was born in September of 1999. The company is an award-winning software development organization providing consulting, integration, technology, and support services to federal agencies. It has 100 employees with annual revenues approximating $17 million.

After college, with a degree in accounting, Lisa had gone to work for one of the big 8 firms and became the CFO. She created Savantage as a shell company and then merged a stock acquisition of one company and an asset acquisition of another. Her story of success includes healing from an abusive childhood and abusive first marriage. “When Rebecca was 18 months old,” she said. “I knew I had to figure out how I was going to change my life.” But then, she became pregnant with her son. “I went to therapy and started to sort my life out,” she said.

Lisa divorced when Rebecca was 5 and Jonathan 2. “I was a workaholic; it was my outlet,” she said. Her kids were often with her late at night at work. “I had a playpen and crib in my office; they would build playhouse in the cubicles.”

Four years after the divorce, Lisa met Dan at a conference. Dan was retiring from the Coast Guard and a friend of his who worked for Lisa made the introduction. “We’ve talked every day since,” she said. They married a year later in 2007 on a beach with a Baptist minister. After some church shopping together, Dan returned to the Catholic Church and Lisa went through RCIA. Their marriage was convalidated, after annulments.

Since Dan was retired, he not only helped me out at Savantage but also took care of the home front. “It was perfect,” Lisa said. “He managed our personal life and I had an assistant that managed the business side, so it maximized my ability to attend the kids’ events physically and mentally, too.”

Lisa considers the monthly Legatus meetings “a lovely spiritual date night.” She enjoys learning more about the faith and getting to know other Catholic business leaders. The value of giving back to the Church and community aligns perfectly with Savantage ideals. The company gives between 30- and 50-percent aftertax profits to charitable causes. “Just as we want to help our customers succeed, we also want to help our communities succeed,” Lisa said.

She credits Savantage’s success to God bringing so many of his “strong women” together—the leadership is 75 percent women. They even have a prayer chain at work. The company priorities are: God, family, work, and self, in that order. “And if you tend to prioritize yourself over God, family, and work,” Lisa said, “this probably isn’t the place for you.”

Building Family, Business, Faith On Sure Footing

Pam Veldman met her husband Bernie when they were teenagers. They now have five children (the youngest is in high school) and five grandchildren under the age of four. This year marks 20 years as co-owners of Dienen, Inc., Surestep (www.surestep.net) and Transcend Orthotics and Prosthetics (transcendop.com), specializing in orthotics and prosthetics for children. Pam is vice president/COO and Bernie is the president/ CEO. They are members of the South Bend Elkhart Legatus Chapter in Indiana.

While Bernie served in the military as a U.S. Army Ranger, Pam worked as a legal secretary. After four years of service, Bernie went to work for The Tire Rack in South Bend, IN, also owned by Legates. Four years later, he was recruited by his future brother-in-law, who owned and operated an orthotics and prosthetics business. Bernie managed the fabrication lab while Pam worked from home doing transcription and caring for their three young children.

Bernie soon became a certified prosthetist orthotist, able to fit patients with corrective and supportive devices. Coincidentally, at this time, they noticed their oldest son had severe pronation which affected how he ran. Bernie developed a unique custom lower leg brace that corrected his pronation and allowed flexibility to run, jump, and play. It became known worldwide as Surestep.

Pam and Bernie were able to buy one office of their brother-in-law’s practice with the goal of serving as many children as possible while marketing the Surestep brace. “We started with just the two of us and two employees,” Pam explained. “Bernie provided patient care and traveled around the U.S. educating on the benefits of Surestep, while I ran the office and had our fourth child.”

Three years and one child later they built their current office, initially with only 25 employees. Today, they have about 130 staff members in that same office and another 100 employees at 13 Transcend locations throughout the U.S. Their Surestep products are sold to thousands of companies in the U.S. and 33 countries around the world.

“I have worn many hats over the years,” Pam said, “from managing human resources, billing, accounts receivables, customer service, trainer, coordinator, facilities design, board member, decision maker, trouble shooter, even a little IT, but my favorite hat is as mom.”

Most of their children work for the business now, while Pam and Bernie are looking forward to scaling back one day.

“Having our once-a-month [Legatus] ‘date night’ with a focus on faith rejuvenates us,” she said. “We love the opportunity to share our faith and learn more about it, and how to better incorporate our faith in our work and home life. We have gone on pilgrimage to Italy which was amazing. The other pilgrims were so wonderful; we think about them often. I benefited from going on the Women’s Enclave retreat recently with other women Legates, and the kinship and immediate connectedness was wonderful.”

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer

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15 Shared Lessons

  1. Learn from mistakes, but keep emotions out.
  2. There is value in every movement, even the backward ones.
  3. Be generous in everything—time, money, knowledge, talent, etc. Isn’t that the best way to show gratitude to God for all He has bestowed?
  4. Build trust with the say-do ratio. Be transparent, authentic, and reliable. How you do one thing is how you do everything.
  5. Delight your team members, customers, and clients by anticipating their needs.
  6. Try your best, let God do the rest. Release and receive grace by embracing God’s plan for your life.
  7. Surround yourself with thought leaders – like a board of advisors, business coach, or CEO roundtable. Borrow brilliance. Iron sharpens iron, and asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
  8. Be a lifelong learner.
  9. As a CEO, be the Chief Encouragement Officer. Listen to your team, as they are sensors for your organization. Make people and culture your priority; results will follow.
  10. Follow the Platinum Rule: do unto others as they would want done unto them.
  11. Start your meetings with a mission moment.
  12. As long as you stay close to God through prayer, trust your instincts, even when those around you have more experience and advise you otherwise. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
  13. Trust God to put good people in your life and let them help you. You really don’t have to do it all alone.
  14. Look for God in the moment, not just in the rear-view mirror.
  15. If something needs attention as a team, get together and correct it. Don’t sit back and let things go undone.

Forgiveness And Faith

Legate’s friendship helped traumatized man find healing

Y.G. Nyghtstorm had experienced a difficult life: poverty, an abusive and broken home, sexual abuse, homelessness, suicide attempts, employment struggles, failed marriages, and a child’s death.

As a result, he struggled deeply with depression, anger, and lack of forgiveness for those who had wounded him.

But a chance meeting with North Georgia legate Mike Drapeau developed into a bond of friendship that led Y.G. on a path toward healing and full embrace of the Catholic Church.

And it all began with a cup of lemonade.

A TROUBLED JOURNEY

Y.G. – for Yahanseh George, but Y.G. “is easier for people to remember” – grew up in the Atlanta area as an only child of bickering parents. His father left while he was very young, only to return periodically for another violent fight. His mother grew increasingly hostile to Y.G. because he resembled his father.

In 1985, Y.G. attended a summer camp. There a counselor befriended the socially awkward 11-year-old, made sure he got involved in camp activities, and spoke with him about God and Catholicism. On the camp’s final day, he took Y.G. into a cabin and raped him, quoting Scripture as he did and telling Y.G. God would kill him if he ever told anyone.

Y.G. came away from the abuse hating himself. His relationships deteriorated. And he kept silent. Above all, he hated Christianity and especially the Catholic Church for what that “wicked man” had done to him.

At 18, Y.G.’s mother kicked him out of the house. He lived on the streets, surviving hunger, beatings, and muggings. He attempted suicide more than once. One day, a wealthy and elderly Good Samaritan stopped, took off his own argyle socks, put them on Y.G.’s bare feet, and told him: “As sure as these socks are covering your feet, young man, God will cover your life. Embrace God and go make a difference.”

That single act of kindness “ignited my soul for God,” Y.G. said. But sustaining faith was much more challenging.

Y.G. got off the streets, “got saved” in a Pentecostal church, and married a pastor’s daughter. That marriage dissolved after a few years and a couple of kids, and so did his faith. Depression made it difficult to keep a job. He married again, had more kids, and together he and his wife raised a blended family of seven children.

After his oldest stepson was killed in a workplace accident in 2008, his faith began to return. “I felt powerless and needed strength to support my family during this very difficult time,” Y.G. recalled. “My children needed their dad to be strong, and leading my family back to Christ helped us so much.”

Over the next several years, Y.G. and his wife, Toby, established a foundation in their late son’s name, opened a business, and became motivational speakers and radio co-hosts on life management, marriage, and parenting. But the issues of his past still haunted him. He knew he had to forgive those who had hurt him but could not bring himself do so.

Yet a small, still voice was speaking to him. “God was planting seeds in me about becoming Catholic,” Y.G. said. One night as he slept, he heard the voice of Christ tell him plainly: “I want you to become Catholic and help others who have been hurt in my Church.”

The experience startled him. “I jumped out of the bed drenched in sweat, and I was angry,” said Y.G. “I was livid that Christ would tell me to go to the very place that nearly destroyed me as a child. I literally cussed at God and said that he was lucky I didn’t burn down Catholic churches.”

LEMONADE DIPLOMACY

Several months later, in 2015, Y.G. was driving through a subdivision in Cumming, GA, when two little girls stepped into the street and flagged him down to sell him some lemonade.

Y.G. couldn’t resist the hard sell. He produced a quarter and drank a cup. Impressed by the girls’ entrepreneurship, he asked to meet the father who taught them such skills.

That’s when he met Mike Drapeau.

“He invited me into his home,” Y.G. recalled. “I am a large, 330-pound black man driving in a prestigious neighborhood, a little white girl beautifully smiles at me while selling me lemonade, and her dad invites me into his home while our country is still bickering over race relations. I am an open and inviting person, and it impressed me that Mike was the same way…. And he just happened to be Catholic.”

The two men talked about lemonade, work, life, and faith. At some point, Drapeau invited Y.G. to a meeting of his Regnum Christi prayer group. Y.G. graciously accepted.

Mike’s friendship “allowed me to open up to the possibility of learning more about Catholics, whom I had been hating for decades,” Y.G. said.

Y.G. returned home, prayed, and apologized to God for the bitterness he had felt. “I was still adamant about not becoming Catholic, but I agreed to be open-minded,” he said.

Within that Catholic prayer group, he found compassion, acceptance, and healing. He also began drawing closer to the Church.

“Mike and the other good men of the faith showed a lot of love to me,” he said. “Their families embraced my family while Christ was ministering to me and comforting me the entire time. I had to finally put down my ego, let go of my pain, trust God, and forgive the Church.”

Drapeau said that although the group was “a pretty stable group of guys” that had been meeting for more than 15 years, they welcomed Y.G. with open arms. “He was definitely a breath of fresh air,” he said.

Drapeau marveled at Y.G.’s progress through the group.

“Part of the methodology is to not only break open the Gospels but also to study aspects of Catholic history, spirituality, theology, and apologetics,” he explained. “So week by week he encountered that. Sometimes he listened. Sometimes he reacted. Sometimes he was stupefied. But always he came back. And, little did we know, he was systematically knocking down his prejudices and misperceptions about the Catholic Church as he interacted with us.”

RESTORATION

Ultimately, Y.G. did more than just forgive the Catholic Church: in January 2018, he was received into the faith at St. Brendan’s Church in Cumming.

“It was an amazing Mass,” recalled Drapeau, who was Y.G.’s confirmation sponsor. “The entire parish appeared to know him, and they all clapped. It was a powerful moment for those in attendance.”

Drapeau said he and Y.G. have a “close personal relationship” and have participated together in charitable endeavors, mission trips, and the National March for Life.

Y.G. said that with his Catholic friends’ encouragement, he has reached out to his mother in reconciliation. He has even forgiven the “wicked man” and what he came to represent.

“I carried around unforgiveness in my heart against the Catholic Church for over 30 years,” he said. “What started with one wicked Catholic man snatching away my self-worth and power when I was a child has transcended into a life of unimaginable power as I am loved by a group of Catholics that helped me in more ways than I can count.”

Gerald Korson is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Business heroes don’t tell us what to do – they show us

Business heroes are all around us. We recognize them in the little things they do that make a big impression. They teach, mentor, and inspire us to become better people. Their example in doing little things well makes them heroes in our lives. 

When I think of business heroes, three people come to mind: First, there’s the company president who demonstrated that individual performance “above and beyond the call of duty” doesn’t get you extra pay, just the opportunity to do it over again. Second, there’s the entrepreneur who showed me how to “turn the other cheek” when dealing with an irate customer; and third, there’s the sales manager who demonstrated how friendship in business can often overcome weaknesses in product or service. 

But my first important lesson in business ethics came from my father. He served in the Marine Corps during World War II, and applied much of that good Marine training to my development. Marines are intensely loyal. My dad demonstrated that loyalty by giving me, his first son, the first name of his commanding officer.

Dad owned a residential heating and cooling business, and I, an impressionable teenager, remember accompanying him on a service call. Dad examined the customer’s heater to determine what was wrong, then told him, “The thermocouple is shot. We’ll replace it and get your system back in order in no time.” 

The homeowner then asked how much Dad would charge for a new heating and cooling system. “But you don’t need a new one,” my dad said.

The man replied, “Well, I replace my car frequently, why shouldn’t I replace my furnace?” 

My dad explained that furnaces and air conditioners have fewer moving parts and are built to last much longer than a car. He assured him that buying a new system wouldn’t be cost effective. And he refused to give him a price.

 On the way home, I asked Dad why he wouldn’t sell the man a new system. “It’s not right to sell someone something they don’t need,” he explained. “That furnace of his will last another 15 years, and the money it would cost could be put to much better use now. He could save it for a rainy day, take his wife on vacation, or pay for his children’s education.” 

Whenever I tell this story, listeners often say that if a customer wants to buy something, that’s his or her business, not the seller’s, and that my dad was out of line in discouraging the transaction. 

But imagine if many townspeople spent their money foolishly on new furnaces every year. Buying un-needed products can impoverish consumers, and also the community in which they live.

My dad’s explanation impressed on me that a good business person should not pursue every opportunity that earns a profit, only those that make good sense for both buyer and seller. That’s the essence of “win-win.” By following this regimen, Dad earned a sterling reputation that helped him attract repeat business year after year. People knew he would give them a fair deal, and they knew he wouldn’t sell them something just so he could fatten his own wallet.

Pope Benedict XVI explored this idea in his apostolic letter, Caritas in Veritate. First, he noted that all businesses should focus on offering truly good products and services that not only help the purchaser, but improve the common good. Then he wrote, “But should profit become the exclusive goal of the enterprise, the business risks destroying true wealth and creating poverty for all concerned.” My dad was able to make this idea very memorable.

Business heroes don’t just tell us what to do. They demonstrate how to do it through witness of their lives.

BRIAN ENGELLAND is the Pryzbyla chair of business and economics in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America. His latest book is Force for Good: The Catholic Guide to Business Integrity, published by Sophia Institute Press.

Business and faith: A match made in heaven?

I recently served on A discussion panel where Catholic business leaders explored the degree of compatibility between faith and business practices, including corporate charitable giving. A distinct mix of opinions was expressed. In an era when it cannot be agreed that 2 + 2 = 4, can business people be as divided as the rest of the country? Or perceive that faith presents different dictates to different people? Is there no common denominator?

Probably not, but let’s try two ideas on for size.

My dad, a businessman and one of the most charitable people I’ve known, always spoke of “helping the least of our brethren.” Judging from our mailbox at home while growing up, it seemed that every mission around the world depended on his good will.

Try one more. “Children are a gift from God,” said Mother Teresa, whom my wife and I met many years ago while volunteering at Caligat, her “Home for the Destitute Dying” in Calcutta. She was remarkable in her approachability, energy, and good humor.

Perhaps not all readers would agree with my dad and Mother Teresa, though it’s hard to argue with the Gospels and a saint. Thus, in exploring the alignment between business and faith, it might be instructive to ask business people to assess their actions, processes, and charitable commitments through the lens of how well they are serving the least of our brethren, including children.

Looking through this lens, I would submit that in the sea of all the good things that businesses and their people do, there are two opportunities that are overlooked: improving education and addressing fatherlessness.

Improving education has many definitions. Many businesses donate books, provide reading tutors, and teach STEM classes. All good. But to me, real improvement will rely on market forces – yes, good ol’ competition – when poor kids and their parents are given the freedom to select from a menu of public, private, religious, cyber, and home educational options that fit their circumstances and preferences. But the forces of the public school monopoly are strong, vocal, and well funded. Some school choice advocates have declared this the civil rights issue of our day. But where are voices of business leaders, whose instincts I have to believe, despite divisions, lean toward free markets? I don’t hear them.

Nor do I hear business leaders weighing in on fatherlessness despite nearly 20 million kids in the U.S. living without their dads. Most are being raised by single mothers, nearly 50 percent of whom live in poverty. Too many families, the key building blocks of society, are shattered. Too many kids live desperate lives marked by loneliness, neglect, gangs, drugs, crime, pregnancy, hopelessness, failure in school, and lack of love. In the mid-1960s, the vast majority of children lived with both parents. To be sure, some were poor and faced enormous challenges.

But with two parents in their corner, they at least had the fighting chance that too many kids today lack. What happened? We could debate the causes forever. But sadly, and with tragic consequences, our culture seems to have concluded that dads are obsolete and unnecessary, to be tossed onto some 21st-century trash heap with other anachronisms. And so too many of our kids suffer without the love, hard work, protection, discipline, and guidance of their fathers – while we delude ourselves that mothers can do it all.

What can businesses do? Plenty. There are numerous agencies, non-profits, private groups, and individuals doing heroic work both to offer kids a better education and rebuild fatherhood. In supporting any of these initiatives with their drive, creativity, and intelligence, business leaders can help many of the least of our brethren while witnessing to what our faith prescribes.

BILL MCCUSKER is Founder & CEO of Fathers & Families, Inc., whose mission is improving the lives of children, mothers, and families by building awareness of the importance of fathers, and by helping fathers be better fathers. He is recently retired from the business world where he spent 36 years in executive and marketing leadership roles. www.fathersfamilies.com.

When Pro Athletes Evolve from Sports to Business

Every professional athlete knows his playing days will eventually come to an end. Most try to put that conclusion off as long as possible, but former Jacksonville Jaguars’ Pro-Bowl linebacker Paul Posluszny freely chose to retire in April of 2018. Despite the Jaguars nearly making it to the Super Bowl three months previously — they lost to the New England Patriots by four points in the AFC Championship — Posluszny knew his own playing days were over.

The 34-year-old father of two holds high standards—he has won many awards and was even named to the Pro Bowl in 2013—so he was not content with merely remaining on a roster. “After the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, I knew my career as a professional athlete was complete. I didn’t want that to be true, but my body had reached a point that I could no longer function at a level I would find acceptable to play in the NFL.”

Posluszny’s high standards, along with his longtime interest in aviation, led him to start flight training in 2013, long before his athletic career wound down. The Pittsburgh-area native knew he would have to move on from the game at some point, so started learning how to fly a plane even at the height of his personal success in football. It was at his flight training that he met the Malone family, who owns Malone Air Charter. The company, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is where Posluszny is currently being trained as an airplane mechanic.

STARTING AGAIN

“Aviation is my passion,” Posluszny said, “so I want to learn all aspects of the industry, starting with the planes themselves, and then moving into corporate management and decision-making skills.” He plans to pursue an MBA, starting in the fall of 2019, at one of three schools—the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, or Carnegie Mellon University—to add to his aviation experience and his undergraduate finance degree from Penn State University.

While Posluszny wants to make a positive impact in the aviation industry, he is not sure of the specifics once graduate school is completed. In the meantime, he is enjoying the learning process and using the same general philosophy that worked for him in football: faith in God, hard work, and servant leadership.

“Father Andy Blaszkowski, who offered Mass for the Jaguars’ players and other team personnel, would talk about servant leadership.” Posluszny said. Jesus, the greatest servant leader ever, did not come to be served, but to serve, and Posluszny recommends that contribution centered mentality in order to be successful in any endeavor.

Posluszny has found his current workplace to share the same values he heard Father Blaszkowski emphasize. “The corporate culture of the Malone family is deeply rooted in the principles of servant leadership, humility, and integrity. They are a truly outstanding family, and the Christian principles of hard work, honesty, and helping others is prevalent throughout the organization.” 

TENDING A NEW FIELD

Former professional baseball player Bobby Keppel has also been able to carry his Catholic faith and sports industry experience into a new field of work. What most players would consider a heartbreaking setback, Keppel took as a simple transition out of baseball and into landscaping. The ground work for his ability to peacefully accept the unforeseen event was laid many years previously, as he had been taught to put family before personal ambition.

In the year 2000 as a senior at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, Missouri, Keppel was selected by the New York Mets in the first round of the MLB draft. He worked his way through the minor leagues and made his MLB debut with the Kansas City Royals in 2006. He then played for the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins before lending his skills to a Japanese team for four years. By the spring of 2014, he was more than ready to become a starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

Then the unexpected happened.

Bobby’s father, Curt, who was battling cancer, called and asked his son if he could come back to St. Louis to help run the family’s landscaping business, Mid-America Lawn Maintenance. Because the company’s contracts are year-to-year and most of its workers are seasonal, selling the business as a whole was not an option. The only other option was dismantling the business and selling off its equipment.

 RETURNING TO HELP DAD

Most players would have found it extremely difficult to choose between living their Major League dream and coming home to help the family business. However, Keppel was sure what he wanted to do. “I knew that family comes first, even before big career advancement that had taken years to secure. I wouldn’t have been in the position I was in for 2014 spring training had it not been for my father. He helped me out in countless ways through the years, so when he needed my help, I was happy to give it,” Keppel explained.

The right ordering of human interaction, or subsidiarity, is a big theme for Keppel, one that he recently addressed at a men’s conference at St. Joseph Church in Cottleville, Missouri. The father of seven emphasized to the men present that there is a distinct hierarchy that should determine who receives the most attention from them. He explained: “Of course, God is most deserving of our attention, but after Him, a man’s wife should be his first priority, followed by his children, other family members, neighbors, fellow parishioners, and then business associates.”

RUN BUSINESS BY PUTTING IT LAST 

Keppel does not think this order is detrimental to running a business well. On the contrary, he believes it is the proper philosophy for productivity and happiness. “These days you sometimes hear people say their jobs do not ‘fulfill’ them. I think they have it backward. We shouldn’t look to our jobs for obtaining happiness; we should bring the happiness we have found in the Church into our jobs. It’s a mindset of contribution rather than extraction.”

 Continuing on the theme of putting value into the work, Keppel uses baseball analogies with his father in the landscaping business. The elder Keppel is seen as the general manager of the team who makes the big decisions about contracts and personnel, while the younger Keppel is the manager who makes day-to-day decisions about which “players to put in the lineup on the field.” 

Although Bobby Keppel studied business at the University of Notre Dame during three off-seasons early in his playing career, he has not used much of what he learned. “Maybe if I were in another business, the schooling would come in handy, but in landscaping, it’s a matter of common sense. You treat others as you would want to be treated, charge a reasonable price for the work, pay a reasonable wage to the workers, and so forth. No advanced training is needed; you just need to have the resolve to do the job well.”

 KEEPING THE LORD’S DAY

Some of the basic values Keppel has found to be essential for doing the job well are showing up for work on time and giving one’s best effort every day—except Sunday. Keppel keeps the traditional understanding of the Sabbath as a time of rest.

There have been Sundays on which the company has been open because of weather-induced maintenance backups, but it is nearly always a time of rest from work and reverence toward God. “God makes the Commandments of relating to Him and others,” Keppel said, also noting that “There will always be challenges to deal with, but If we follow God’s commands, things go more smoothly at home and at work.”

TRENT BEATTIE is a Legatus magazine contributing write

For better or worse –in business and marriage

“Married couples who work together to build and maintain a business assume broad responsibilities,” said Melissa Bean, now a vice chairman for JP Morgan Chase, from the floor of Congress during her years as a U.S. representative from Illinois. “Not only is their work important to our local and national economies, but their success is central to the well-being of their families.”

Husbands and wives who manage businesses together while raising their families can experience special challenges as well as joys. A few entrepreneurial Legate couples recently shared a bit about what that’s like and how their Catholic faith helps them succeed at work and at home.

Keeping work and marriage ever well

Dr. Chris Zubiate was in the behavioral health field when he met his future wife, Leah, who then worked in private equity. She became involved in behavior health through a volunteer opportunity and had her “eyes opened to a new world I had never been exposed to or really thought about,” Leah recalled.

Now married with two young children, the San Francisco Legates operate Ever Well Health Systems, a network of residential treatment facilities for adults with serious mental and emotional problems. Chris is Ever Well’s president and CEO, while Leah serves as an administrator with broad oversight of the flagship facility.

In the early years, Chris and Leah commuted two hours to their first facility – sometimes separately, sometimes together. “Initially, we weren’t covering our bills, and the time away from the family filled us with doubts,” Leah remembered. “Now, looking back, our commitment to the work was never more tested.”

On the days they commuted together “our commitment to each other was strengthened,” she added. “It allowed us to be together as a couple and reflect on our purpose and our faith.”

Work-life balance remains difficult, but having two little ones keeps the home life in the forefront. “Having the flexibility to start our work days at different times, the ability to work from home, or being able to alternate ‘late days’ is incredible at this stage and a real gift,” said Leah.

The company is open 24/7, she explained, so “it’s easy to become engulfed. We have to set boundaries with ourselves to not always be talking about work. Or for me, to not get so emotionally invested.”

Competition and compromise

Drs. Frank and Cheryl Mueller met as undergrads in the pre-med program at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. “I was attracted to Cheryl not only because she was pretty and smart, but also because she came from a Catholic family with strong work ethics and strong family ties,” Frank recalled. They were married shortly before entering medical school.

Cheryl planned to go into pediatrics, but Frank convinced her to join him in family medicine. Sharing a practice, he reasoned, would facilitate coordinating parental responsibilities.

“We have been practicing family medicine together in the same office for over 30 years,” said Cheryl. “We each have our own patients, but we cover for one another and are business partners as well as life partners.”

The San Antonio Legates’ three sons are grown now, but the Muellers remember the challenges during those child-raising years. Cheryl said she and Frank agreed that at least one of them should attend every important event in their kids’ lives.

“Even though our jobs required being ‘on call’ and responsive to our patients 24/7, we sincerely tried to be the best and most involved parents we possibly could be,” she recalled. “We both are so grateful to God and our families for providing the ability to accomplish this goal.”

Frank noted Cheryl and he have a “natural competitiveness” as to who brings in more patients or income, or who makes final decisions on managing staff or redecorating offices. “However, armed with Christian ethics and compromise, the problems get solved, and our relationship stays intact,” he said.

Passions and priorities

“For me, the challenge of being in business together is having to intuitively navigate two great passions of my life,” said Charlie Domen, president and CEO of DisplayMax Inc., a retail merchandising firm he founded in southeastern Michigan around 1993 with his wife, Susan, who is vice president. The Ann Arbor Legates admit “it is only through the foundation of faith that we are able to balance the peaks and valleys of managing business and family life.”

Charlie worked in sales and Susan was in office administration in the early 1990s when they each took side jobs merchandising products in grocery stores. That experience and their respective skill sets inspired them to start their own company offering services including inventory resets, retail fixtures, and store remodels

“Faith and our family are absolutely our priority,” Susan agreed. “However, as entrepreneurs, our business is certainly our passion. We are always open to looking at ways to improve our organization, to better serve our clients, improve processes and communication, and looking at better ways to integrate systems and software.”

Ensuring that their drive for entrepreneurial success doesn’t compromise family needs – the Domens have three daughters, ages 11 to 18 — is a key concern in addition to simply weathering the ups and downs of business.

Susan recalled a lean December when cash was tight and credit was thin. After a long-awaited receivables check finally arrived on Christmas Eve, jubilation turned to desperation when the bank placed a five-day hold on the funds. A generous bank manager came to the rescue and waived the hold. “That was our Christmas miracle,” remembered Susan. “We went out, got our tree and a few presents, and had one of our best Christmases ever!”

Faith as a guide

These couples have in common a strong faith that permeates their lives both at work and at home.

“Our Catholic faith doesn’t only inform and impact our business, it forms and impacts our hearts, our families, our schools, parishes, and workplaces,” said Charlie Domen.

“One of the more practical and basic ways our faith has impacted our business is it allows us to see each person for who they are, the way Jesus sees them, not as a human resource, but as a human person,” he explained. That translates into generous wages and benefits for employees, prayer before meals, sponsorship of charitable events, and a culture that promotes trust and teamwork.

At Ever Well, Chris and Leah Zubiate echo that perspective.

“Our Catholic faith helps us steward our employees and resources to affirm the dignity of the vulnerable people we serve,” Leah said. “A lot of what guides us is opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit and following God’s will. We try to be open with our employees, residents, and customers about the strength of our Catholic faith and frequently make connections between what we do for work and our personal mission to serve the mentally ill.”

That principle is reflected in the company tagline: “Everything. For everlasting change.”

The Muellers rely on faith to guide their marriage as well as their medical practice.

“Our faith has always been extremely important to both of us,” said Cheryl Mueller. “It is important to be compassionate and understanding to patients who may be discouraged or irritable because of serious health problems. Both of us feel that spirituality is an important part of healing, and we try to include this in the way that we minister to our patients and our employees.”

Frank told of how Mass, prayer, the sacraments, and even Legatus gatherings help them decompress and “enjoy life again as a married couple.”

The Muellers will celebrate 40 years together in 2019, “and God-willing, we will work together another 10 years or so before retiring,” said Frank. “It has, in all aspects, really become a family practice.”

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.