Jan. 20, 2000
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ Consultants help companies market products, boost the bottom line, decide whom to hire and how much to pay. Now a business consulting firm goes a step further _ advising companies how to do those things by The Book.
Teaching businesspeople to make biblically-based decisions is the goal of Kingdom Companies, a division of Ultimate Support Systems of Fort Collins, a privately-held, 20-year-old company that makes speaker, lighting, keyboard and microphone stands for the music and entertainment industries.
The company's mission statement proclaims its first goal is to ``make known the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to minister His life and love to others.''
It does this ``through the profitable design, manufacture, and distribution of a broad range of high quality support systems.''
Darrell Schoenig and James Dismore, founder and president respectively, said their program is the result of a concern that their Christian lives were being checked out on Sunday morning and checked back in Sunday night.
``We go out and work with other companies and ... give them ideas,'' said Dismore. ``We try to help other companies come to understand what is their mission, and what is their purpose.''
Ultimate Support generates five-year plans for business and ministry, then combines them to create a corporate plan.
Decisions based on biblical concepts can cost money. For example, a recent $48,000 health insurance premium hike came out of company coffers; officials decided the corporation could sustain the additional expense better than employees, who would have had to pay an additional $100 a month apiece.
Ultimate's corporate mission statement has stayed in company catalogs, even though some non-Christian customers have canceled thousands of dollars worth of purchase orders. Officials declined to give details.
Schoenig became a Christian while living in his van on the beaches of Hawaii in the 1970s. He returned to Colorado with a band. At a concert he discovered the need for lightweight, strong speaker stands. Band members had to use chairs to support their speakers.
A hang glider pilot, he fabricated some stands from metal tubing used for hang gliders, then started making them in his parents' garage when others wanted them. The band soon broke up, and he was left with a burgeoning demand for his products.
Meanwhile, he had developed a philosophy, which he summarized this way: ``God, if this is what you want me to do, I don't want this to just be a business. I want to impact lives for you.''
Dismore, raised by Christian grandparents, started working with Sam Walton when the Wal-Mart chain had three stores and was a senior level manager when he left 12 years later.
On his arrival at Ultimate in the 1990s, he decided to pursue a marriage of business and ministry plans that Schoenig already had begun to formulate.
``Is the making of money for your own self-interest, or is it for others?'' Dismore said. ``There's nothing in Scriptures that says there's anything wrong with profit. Scripture does say it's the purpose, and how you go about making that profit, and what you do with the profit, that makes the difference.''
Kingdom Companies is funded by Ultimate's profits and has provided advice to retailers, manufacturers, Internet companies and software operations.
Franklin DeRemer, CEO for the California-based MetaWare software company, credited Kingdom Companies with offering ``godly counselors and advisors with years of business experience'' to help him develop guidelines for his own operation.
And Mark Haynam, who runs Leaf Kitchens, Ltd., a high-end Colorado cabinetmaker, expressed gratitude that someone was there ``when a hurting, lonely cabinetmaker needed help.''
``We will not tell you that you must do A, B and C to meet our (or, more importantly, God's) standards. What we will do is share our experiences, our time and our suggestions. Our goal is to establish a mentoring relationship that will positively impact your business and its people,'' says an outline for Kingdom Companies.
Bonnie Griffin Kaake of Innovative Consulting Group Inc. in the Denver area said the concept is unique and it could be valuable if managers avoid problems with employees perceiving religious dictates in the workplace.
``I really strongly believe that there is a lot of room today for more ethics in business,'' said Ms. Kaake, a member of the International Guild of Professional Consultants. ``I have been appalled at some of the things I have seen.''
``It's not exactly about the things we do,'' said Dismore. ``It's about why we do it. We try to walk our talk.''