Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a fundraising dinner for the Nehemiah Project. The Nehemiah Project involves teaching students how to be entrepreneurs, while emphasizing their businesses should have a Biblical foundation for how they are run. The keynote speaker last night was Bob Moore, owner of Red Mill Natural Foods. It was an incredible evening, because Moore is a man who does run his business based on how he thinks God wants him to run it.
Moore mentioned several things that he sees as critical to his being faithful to God in his business. First, Moore pays his employees a livable wage (currently he has over 400 employees). He feels that this is a critical expression of his faith. Second, he provides medical benefits for his employees. There was a question from the audience about how these actions affect his margins. He felt that by providing these benefits for his employees that his margins are stronger than if he charged lower prices. His employees are happy and therefore give the company 110% all the time.
Third, Moore provides a 401k for his employees. It is not a pension, but it is an opportunity for employees to create a more comfortable retirement for themselves. And last, Red Mill provides profit sharing each month for his employees. Moore told a funny story on how his CPA tried to get him to limit the profit sharing to once per year. Moore said absolutely not. He wanted his employees to participate each month in the financial results of the business.
Moore’s Red Mill is successful. It is a multimillion-dollar business, that is doing well while doing good. Bob Moore is 84 years old and has no intention of retiring. However, he recognizes that he will not be able to do his business forever. In response to this reality, and his love for his employees, he has turned the company into an ESOP, which means the company is owned by the all of the employees.
I have to admit I was amazed by what I heard. Bob Moore is a Biblical Entrepreneur. He has started a business, made a difference in his community, while doing it God’s way. He is a businessman, but he cares for others. He and his wife have used their money to do good in the Portland community. He has created non-profit organizations with OHSU and others to provide opportunity for other less fortunate people.
Bob Moore is exactly what we are talking about in our Social Entrepreneurship program at Warner Pacific College. We are training students to start businesses that create positive social change. This can be done in many different ways, and Bob Moore has found one of them. Thanks Bob for being an excellent example of what a Biblical Entrepreneur can do.
Oh by the way, I ran into two old friends of mine at the dinner and plan on reconnecting with them.
And that is my thought for the day!