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A Kingdom Comapny's Most Valuable Asset

By Kent Humphreys - What is the most valuable asset that your firm possesses? Is it your technology, trade secrets, credit line, or customer base? Is it your exclusive product line, production capabilities, available case, or unique equipment? While all of these are important, most of us would say that our most treasured possession is our people or our leadership. However, there is another asset that may be even more important as your business matures. A good name or reputation allows your firm to attract quality leaders, excellent employees, key customers, and financing.

Proverbs 3:4 tells us that we should desire the favor of both God and Man. We are reminded that a good name is more valuable than great riches (22:1). Ecclesiastes 7:21 explains that a good reputation makes the day of our death even better than the day of our birth. In a business environment in which we demand performance quarterly and where we exchange CEO’s more often than our cars, a good name is a rare commodity.

In recent years I have been reminded that a good name could produce investment returns for many years. A few years ago our marketing firm was looking for key brokers to represent our new product to the nation’s larger retail chains. Our Vice President was interviewing a broker to call on the world’s largest retailer. The broker asked him about the owners of our firm and the Vice President shared my name. The broker immediately volunteered to take our line. He shared that fifteen years ago he had made the worst decision of his career. As the buyer for that same retailer he took away the business from my distribution firm in order to go direct to several manufacturers. Within three months he knew that the decision was wrong. When he went to his boss to change the decision, he was prohibited from doing so because of a company policy to seek to intimidate distributors. He respected our distribution firm and me as leader. He would welcome any opportunity to represent our young firm and would gladly put his reputation on the line for us. When our Vice President shared with me the story I was shocked. We had lost 34% of our business at that time in 1988 and it took us two years to make it up and survive as a firm. That heartache could now give us a new business opportunity, years later, in a different firm because I had maintained a good name. A good name may be working in ways that you are never allowed to see. How is your reputation even with the clients that you have lost?

A few years ago I was speaking to a conference of Korean Christian business leaders from around the world. As I was introduced the first evening, Henry came to my table to introduce himself. He asked if I remembered him, and I could not. He then gave the firms name and I remembered it as one of our suppliers back in the seventies. Henry explained that he was not a believer at that time, but several times a year our firm would use holidays to share Christ in letters and in other ways. Henry could not understand why I would be reaching out and serving our suppliers. My open testimony had a large impact on him as one of the many circumstances that eventually brought him to Christ. He was still in business with different product lines in his same firm. Henry is active today in encouraging other believers in the workplace in the United States and around the world. He asked that he be allowed to give a brief testimony the next day before I spoke. He shared with the conference that I had been living out my faith in the marketplace for over thirty years. His testimony communicated in a way that I could never do through a Korean translator. A good name has a tremendous impact for years. Do your suppliers know about your faith?

A few years ago the employees of a firm that I used to own had a reunion at a local park. Some former employees who now work at firms all over our city put the reunion together. We had sold the firm seven years before, and I left as CEO three years after that. Then the firm was moved to another state. On the day of the reunion 160 people came from several states. Some of the guys came from over five hundred miles away. I was amazed that we had created such a “family” atmosphere that they still wanted to get together and share old times. All afternoon we told stories, laughed, and enjoyed being together. I was reminded that a good name and good experiences cause employees to take pride even in their former employer and co-workers from years ago. Are you giving your employees an experience that they will remember favorable and want to share with their family and co-workers after they are no longer working there? A good name brings co-workers together in a unique family.

When my brothers and I purchased our parents’ firm we had a name that was outdated. “Jack’s Service Company” sounded like a corner service station. We lost our military business within two years and started serving retailers. We retained only three employees and a few small customers. We later grew the firm nearly thirty times in size. The only thing that the name helped us with was with our banker and suppliers. That name and our limited experience in our twenties were about all that we possessed. So, years later we kept the “Jack’s” and added “Distribution” and “Merchandising”. The “Jacks” name became known, within our country’s largest grocery, drug, and discount chains, as one that meant excellence, service, and integrity. Today the name is no longer used, but its reputation remains. So does the reputation of its owners, leadership team, and employees.

In business and in life your name is a treasured possession. Paul writes in I Timothy 3:7 that we should look for leaders with a good reputation with those outside of Christ’s body. Are you a leader who understands what influence that your firms name or your name can have in your community or industry? Do you realize that few of us as leaders or as firms finish well? Our name is something of rare value and we must endeavor to present it to God as one that seeks to glorify Him. What are you doing today to protect and elevate the name on your business card? What is the most valuable asset of your company?

Kent Humphreys www.lifestyleimpact.com Kent@fcci.org http://www.fcci.org/

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posted by Justin Forman | 8.25.2009 - 7:04 AM

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