Kept From the Fire
When I started Preferred Airparts with my sons in 1982 I told them, “We’ll do business with integrity for two reasons. First, because it supports who we say we are as Christians. Secondly, because it’s the smart way to do business – even crooks like to do business with honest people.”
We started Preferred on Aug. 1, 1982. My father had passed away in 1981, leaving over 300 new surplus aircraft type engines. (He had bought over 900 in 1958) My sons and I envisioned buying them from my mother, along with an incredible inventory of new parts, as part of starting our business.
Before I talked with Mother about that, she called and asked me to represent her to an interested buyer from Texas. Ooookay – now what? I told her I’d do it. When I told my sons, they said, “But we wanted them!” My response was that I’d do my best to sell them to her potential customer and if God wanted us to have them, we’d have them. I went in to PA to meet with her buyer; worked on agreements; and made a sincere effort to sell him the engines and parts.
We went on with our new business without that inventory. In Mid November she called and said her buyer had backed out. On Nov. 21 we had a warehouse fire that wiped us out. If we had gotten what we wanted, when we wanted it, we would have lost the new parts and some engines in the fire. Now they were available to us in a way that we could afford in spite of the fact that we were worse than broke. They were foundational to our recovery from the fire. Integrity pays. God knows!
Who Goes First?
One of the biggies of integrity is to do what you say you’ll do. Sons Ken Jr. and Brian also run Priority Air Charter, carrying freight across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Freight brokers put the loads up for bid on the internet and several people usually bid. A major issue is the need to be at the pick-up point on time. Some competitors say they can so they get the trip, even if they know they can’t – and then they make excuses.
Shippers aren’t stupid and it didn’t take them long to learn that Priority doesn’t do that. They do what they say they’ll do. The result is that some significant shippers tell the broker that they want Priority Air Charter even if it cost a bit more.
Integrity is either part of a company’s culture, or it isn’t. True integrity affects every aspect of a business and makes it appealing to those you serve. For Priority, it can mean that we go fly while competitors wait for a load.
The Last Word
I recently met a guy whom we’ll call Jon, and I liked him from the start.
Jon has a wide western-style belt with a large buckle with his name on it. (His wife points out that it’s hard to see because of his overhanging belly.) He wears a cowboy hat in a natural way, not for show. And it becomes clear as you chat that Jon isn’t an “MBA”.
But there are other things that soon become clear too. Jon is humble and he loves Jesus. He’s a recovering alcoholic and is honest about the problems that had caused earlier in their marriage. And he’s a very successful Canadian entrepreneur – although you have to work a bit to get that out of him. He has business savvy and a world view that belie his eighth grade education.
Jon simply takes God at His word. A biggie for him is to conduct his business with integrity. He loves to tell stories about how God and others honor that. He’s in the grain business, and unknown to him a large customer was having some product processed by both Jon and a competitor. Jon came up with just over 1% waste and the other guy had several times more. (He was keeping some good grain to sell elsewhere.) Guess what!!
A huge new, well-financed competitor called him once to announce that he was going to put Jon out of business. Guess who was out of business in a few years? My friend just goes along at a steady pace, unalarmed about what’s happening around him ‘cause he knows God is in control. No compromise either. And it pays, because integrity and trusting in God do just that!