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Published: Friday, 5/2/2003

CEO stands firm on faith

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Nate Elarton, pastor of Bedford Christian Community Assembly of God, Temperance, prays at a `Heal Our Land' event as his son, Levi, 3, engages in a little mischief with his sucker. The event last night was held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. Nate Elarton, pastor of Bedford Christian Community Assembly of God, Temperance, prays at a `Heal Our Land' event as his son, Levi, 3, engages in a little mischief with his sucker. The event last night was held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer.
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John Beckett, an Ohio business owner and author of Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul, told the 14th Annual Community and Business Leaders' prayer breakfast yesterday that one of the lessons to be learned from Enron and other corporate fiascoes is that “profitability is not the bottom line. The bottom line is doing what's right.”

Actually, Mr. Beckett made that statement to an ABC news crew in a profile broadcast nationally in 1995 and replayed yesterday, but the 64-year-old chief executive officer expanded on the concept in his talk to the sold-out crowd of 850 at Gladieux Meadows, kicking off local observance of the National Day of Prayer.

“Six of the 10 largest bankruptcies in history have occurred within the last two years, all involving fraud or corporate malfeasance,” said Mr. Beckett, owner of the R.W. Beckett Corp. in Elyria, which manufactures heating and air conditioning equipment.

Beckett: 'an eye on the bottom line' Beckett: 'an eye on the bottom line'
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After earning an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he left the aerospace industry when his father asked him to help run the family business. At the time, R.W. Beckett Corp. had 12 employees and manufactured oil burners for home heating.

Only a year after joining the firm, Mr. Beckett's father died of a heart attack and left him the business.

Inspired by the deep faith of his wife, Wendy, Mr. Beckett said he learned, often to his own surprise, that applying Biblical concepts in the workplace makes good business sense. “It seemed like a huge step. You have the world of faith over here, and the world of work over there. But I began to see how those worlds connect,” he said.

He does not proselytize his workers, but applies “core values” to every aspect of business. He turned down a lucrative contract, for example, when asked for a kickback. He seeks to pay his workers well and to provide them with top-quality benefits, opening a fitness center on the site and offering lengthy leaves of absence for new parents.

“Jesus Christ came to serve, not to be served,” Mr. Beckett said. “I wanted to know how I, as CEO, instead of lording it over everyone could become a servant to the rest of the organization.”

His company has flourished since he took over in the 1960s, spawning several separate businesses, generating $100 million in annual sales, and employing 600 people.

Mayor Jack Ford told the crowd, “As mayor, I've learned to thank God for the blessings and his mercies that he extends to Toledo and Toledoans.”

Chuck Oswald, owner of the Appliance Center in Maumee, and Juanita Greene, head of Toledo's Board of Community Relations, read Bible scriptures.

Mr. Oswald, who has had 15 surgeries in the last seven years and has four brain tumors, read a “Top 10” list of things he has learned through his health struggles.



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