Entrepreneurs live by religious beliefs as they work to make a living
Some business owners learned to be creative to lure customers this year. And some simply leaned on God and proudly display it.
Some Grand Junction businesses that make their faith evident opened this year in the midst of the recession and have grown. Some opened up a second shop.
They didn’t use any tricks to bring in the customers. They say they simply trusted God, even if it means going against some business principles.
Here are some of those local business’s stories:
Proclaiming their faith
James Smith and Ray Gedstad make no bones about what they believe.
They made sure it is known with a cross for a ‘t’ in the name of their business, Golden City Garage, 3284 F Road. The garage opened June 15.
“The purpose of our shop is to proclaim the name of the Lord,” Smith said. “If you don’t want to hear it, you don’t have to, but I wouldn’t go see a doctor that isn’t a Christian. I don’t want a doctor to cut me open and put his hand in me without guidance. I think there are too many people worried about offending the 10 percent that don’t believe than the 90 percent that do. We do this leading by the hand of the Holy Ghost. We pray in this building every morning. We’re here to glorify him.
“We don’t have bad remarks. One guy out of town asked around town where to take his vehicle and was told here several times.”
Despite the recession, the business is growing.
Smith said he and Gedstad recently sent out 250 Christmas cards to their new customers.
“A lot of those have come back with a second vehicle,” Smith said. “A lot of people said the cross drew them here. One person broke down in front of our shop, looked up and saw the cross and said it’s a sign.”
Gedstad and Smith play Christian music in their shop and staple a church flyer to the customers receipts.
Instilling faith principles
When Mark and Missy Smith came to Grand Junction and found the spot on the corner of Sixth and Main streets in July 1995 to open Main Street Bagels, they didn’t incorporate God in their business practices.
They were open on Sundays for 12 years, and it was their most profitable day of the week.
Two years ago, they returned from out of town to check on the business and found the supervisor on duty closed the store early because several employees called in sick.
“She had done it because there were not enough employees to do it right,” Missy Smith said. “Mark and I went back to the office (in the back of the store) and prayed about Sundays.
“He had just been at men’s retreat with our church. I figured it would take a while for Mark to make a decision, but it didn’t. We came out of prayer, and he said, ‘We need to close on Sundays.’”
Although some customers admitted they were upset, their decision was accepted.
“This is to the glory of God, our finances didn’t go down,” she said. “To be able to say that to people ... God’s really real, and he wants us to honor him.
“As a result, four employees have gone to church with me. That was my hope that would happen.”
Business has been so good, the Smiths opened another shop on the campus of Mesa State College last month.
Service to the community
The sign reads, ‘Around here, it’s Merry Christmas.’
In Mike Bambino’s Dare to Car-E shop, there are New Testament Bibles available to customers. Bambino and his staff do volunteer work for youth programs and the Mesa County Work Force center. Last weekend, his business had a sleigh out front and took donations for the homeless.
“Anybody that knows me, we’ve been doing a lot of Christian things for a long time,” Bambino said. “Everybody knows how I feel. We practice what we preach. We don’t cheat people.
“If there’s any way we can help. We have a lot of single moms out there. This is where God put me. When the economy went sour. Our giving wasn’t contingent to economy. We do as much for people as we can.”
Bambino said they don’t try to force their beliefs on their customers, but won’t sacrifice their beliefs for money either.
“I learned something in my life, and it took me a while,” Bambino said. “You can’t outgive God. My business has done just fine. It depends on how you look at it. If you’re looking at it and your lights are on, you’re doing a great thing. If you do what’s right, people come back to you. I’ve been very thankful.”
The home building industry was hit hard by the recession this year, but Grace Homes survived it.
Owners Terry and Theresea Lawrence and Darin and Tammy Carei had to cut expenses and let some employees go, but they still built 64 new homes this year.
“In this year of extremely tough economic conditions, we have been tested to make decisions contradictory to what the Bible teaches,” Terry Lawrence said. “Every time, we’ve chosen to do it with integrity and biblical principles. We’ve done more new home business here than any other home builder on the Western Slope.”
Lawrence cites the local Multiple Listing Service listings and the surrounding county building department figures.
“This is God’s company,” Terry Lawrence said. “We’re stewards for him. We believe resources and profits are generated to be a reflection and vehicle to glorify God.”
Grace Homes has helped fund orphanages in El Salvador, Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya and Uganda, Lawrence said. The owners give out Bibles to every home owner at the closing.
Terry Lawrence and Darin Carei founded Grace Homes in 1995 with the help of investors.
values through service
Chick-fil-A has operated on biblical principles since the first store opened in 1946 and has followed it to this day. Now, there are more than 1,400 stores in the country.
Chick-fil-A opened in Grand Junction in March 2004.
“It’s a biblically based company, operated on biblical purpose,” Grand Junction restaurant owner Kevin Brock said. “In our industries, Sunday’s are the hardest days to schedule. One, it’s the weekend, and two, church commitments. It’s historically one of the busiest days. We lose millions of dollars every year, but we respect that value.”
Brock says, Chick-fil-A expresses its faith in customer service.
“We have what we call second-mile service,” Brock said. “We go the extra mile. If you track the origin of that saying, it goes back to Scripture, what Jesus tells his disciples. If a Roman soldier came to you and dropped his shield and required you to carry it at least a mile, Jesus says, ‘I tell you not to go just one mile, go a second mile.’ We represent Christ by going above and beyond what people expect.
“We’re a business. We’re not out to convert people. Our intent is to be good representation of what a good business can be. We do fundraisers for churches, schools, people that need money for surgeries, bills.”
Chick-fil-A does that with it’s Spirit Nights, when it gives a percentage of sales back to an organization or people.