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Wednesday, February 28, 2018
38,000% growth over 16 years!
You may think of it as something similar to the Bitcoin hype. But it is not. It is a real story for DCI, Diversified Conveyors International.
DCI is a company, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, which specializes in integrating systems for companies that handle materials, such as conveyor belt systems. Its clients include FedEx, UPS, a variety of manufacturers, and airports.
DCI has been selected as the fastest growing 100 private mid-size companies in the Midsouth for several years, and it was the fastest growing company in 2015. Established in 2000, DCI began its operations in 2001 and has since grown exponentially over 16 years with the annual revenue at $260 million in 2017.
DCI was founded by Tom and Beth Phillips and began its operation with one additional staff in 2001. Currently it employs 161 staff, full time equivalent. Also, Tom and Beth started the company with capital of $50,000 and a line of credit backed up by his home equity. This capital base has expanded to $19 million as of December 31, 2017. That represents a growth of 380 times or 38,000% over 16 years, translating into an annual average growth rate of 237%!
Like any business, DCI's greatest challenge has been hiring the right people who share the vision and mission of the company, particularly to keep pace with the phenomenal growth the company has been experiencing.
Unlike many start-ups, however, DCI has not had to worry about securing clients. Thanks to the long and trustworthy reputation that the DCI team has gained over time in the industry, the company never had to worry about orders for DCI's products. The concern has been instead how to meet and deliver the ever-increasing orders in a timely manner.
DCI reported a profit even in the first year of operation in 2001, and its profitability has continued to increase as the company has grown.
DCI has reported a phenomenal growth, and this growth alone is remarkably impressive. However, DCI's story does not end here.
DCI is a Kingdom business.
When they started DCI, Tom and Beth dedicated it to God and His Kingdom. They knew and acknowledged that God owned DCI and decided to manage it according to His will. Thus, their management goal was not to maximize the growth or the profit, but to manage it in a godly manner with a focus on producing Kingdom impact in every possible way, which they trusted would bring glory to God. They resolved to seek to discern God's heart and follow His way under any circumstances.
To make their resolution clear, the Phillips established DCI's mission statement as follows:
DCI exists to serve our material handling customers with excellence, to contribute to our communities, and to operate as an example of Christian principles.
To achieve this mission, DCI chose the following three core values, the moral and spiritual guideposts that DCI should follow under any circumstances:
- Intensity - single-minded focus on God's purpose
- Thrift - wise use of all resources
- Kingdom Impact - to be produced in every aspect of the business
As a business dedicated for the Kingdom of God, the main drive was to serve DCI staff and the communities in which it operated as well as its clients.
While it is important to serve clients well even for effective business management, as a Kingdom business, DCI strives to deliver products of excellent quality within a promised timeline, all as if it serves the Lord. (Colossians 3:23,24) In the end, this service spirit ends up producing recurring orders and numerous referrals.
For the staff, fair compensation and attractive employee benefits are the foundation. In addition, DCI seeks to assist its staff with godly and holistic living. For example, DCI provides marriage counseling for those who struggle with their marriage. Moreover, DCI staff is encouraged to participate in serving the community at large and His Kingdom.
To serve the community, all staff is encouraged to volunteer their time and talents at the community organizations or ministries they choose. Through a software platform program, all staff is given a monthly allowance of $25 to give away to charitable organizations which have been vetted. Also, if a staff member donates $100 or more to any approved charitable organization of his or her choice, DCI matches this giving so that the benefit and impact may be doubled.
From the very first year of 2001, DCI reported a profit and kept its promise of serving the staff and the community. As DCI grew, it hired people from the inner city and provided internships and counselling. DCI also continues to support ministries that help inner city residents secure employment by teaching job skills, financial management, and linking them with opportunities.
Tom and his wife Beth are a Christian couple with a deep sense of stewardship for their lives, their talents, and their treasure, which they sincerely believe God owns and has entrusted to them. This stewardship principle was also applied to DCI.
The Phillips believe that they have been entrusted with staff, money, clients, and communities along with the company DCI. They do not take any of them for granted because they belong to God. DCI staff are a closely-knit organization.
All staff at DCI willingly and voluntarily pursue the thrifty use of all resources so that none may be wasted. Thrift is one of three core values, as discussed above. The money saved from the thrifty use of resources is applied to giving.
Stewardship principles are applied to the personal lives of the Phillips as well as the company. For example, they calculate the opportunity cost for expenses. The Phillips can drive practically any luxurious car on the market given the amount of profit they are making. But they calculate the opportunity cost of the additional money spent for a luxurious car over a modest car needed to meet the transportation needs and take into account how many children in developing nations can be fed with the additional money required for a luxury car. So they choose a modest car.
Among so many needs of humanity, they chose the following three areas as their foci:
- Sustainable poverty alleviation
- Pastor training
The Phillips genuinely believe that God's stewards who are faithful with a little entrusted with them will be entrusted with more.
His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21)
Ministry Going Overseas
Since DCI served the marginalized people in the inner city in its early years of operation, DCI expanded its ministry overseas in 2005 when Tom visited Rwanda and began to be involved with several ministies in helping alleviate poverty in developing nations.
DCI's involvement in overseas ministries ranged widely from buying 50 motorbikes for loan officers of a Christian micro finance bank (Urwego Opportunity Bank) to building mini hydro power plants to provide sustainable support for many local ministries, and to establishing a chicken farm to feed malnourished children one egg per day to provide protein in their early days of life.
One Egg turned out to be particularly effective and became a success story. It was a collaborative model with self-sustainability. DCI funded the establishment of a chicken farm, called Ikiraro. It chose to partner with Tyson Foods of the U.S. which provided technical assistance needed for the chicken farming. To implement the feeding part of the eggs to children, DCI partnered with the Shyira Diocese of Rwanda Anglican Church. To make Ikiraro sustainable, a non-profit organization was established in the U.S. to recruit sponsors who are willing to pledge $5.00 per month to feed one egg per day for one month for one child. To watch an interesting animated One Egg story, click here.
One Egg produced remarkable impact. The children who were fed one egg per day outgrew other children. Also, their intellectual development was clearly evident. Moreover, children were educated to wash their hands before they ate, and this hygiene education transferred also to their family members. The children were cared for at child development centers, and their parents were able to concentrate on working and earning more income for their families. It was a multiple win scenario. Now, in Rwanda, 3,200 children of 2 - 5 years of age are benefiting from One Egg, and there are currently 217 preschools that have started in the diocese.
One Egg was so effective that it started expanding on its own. It is now operating in 12 countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Nepal. DCI continues to finance the administrative costs for this project so that 100% of all donations received may be used to finance the egg costs.
|Gifts received from some projects supported by DCI|
Key to Success
The following document a few questions and answers exchanged in person:
What were the factors that resulted in operational success for DCI?
"It is not my business, but God's, and I manage it according to His will. God did the rest, producing tremendous success."
"What do you mean by according to God's will?" "How do you know if it is God's will or not?"
"Well... I try to be purposeful in my decision making, examining what is pleasing to God. This applies generally, but particularly to three aspects: product, process, and profit.
For product, we want to make sure we deliver products that will demonstrate excellence and value to the satisfaction of our clients. As a business, we need to serve the needs of our clients with the right product.
For process, we want to make sure all business processes are efficient with minimal waste of time, cost, and manpower. More importantly, we want to make sure our staff are treated well to their satisfaction.
For profit, we want to make sure it is distributed and used according to the Owner's will. We pay taxes properly. We pay fair wages for our staff. We use profit for serving our staff's welfare and the needs of the communities we operate."
Tom and Beth own DCI legally on record. But they believe that their nominal ownership of the company is only temporary because they are not the actual owners. Cautiously, Tom mentioned that they are considering an action that will relieve them from the nominal ownership so that they can truly function as the stewards of the company for His Kingdom purpose.
"Are you considering transferring your ownership to an independent entity or a trust?" At this question, Tom made a big smile on his face and said, "You will see soon."
Concluding the interview, Tom said that the greatest qualification he has received from God is that he is a sinner saved by grace.
On the walls of DCI, there are many quotes. One of them was by Corrie Ten Boom:
"The measure of a life is not its duration, but its donation."
I could sense strongly that Tom and Beth wanted their lives to be measured by their donation of their life, talents, and treasure to the Kingdom causes.
It is God's grace that there are people like Tom and Beth who set examples for fellow Christians on godly living, and there are companies like DCI that operate on biblical principles and produce Kingdom impact in the process.
I dream that God will raise more people like them and companies like DCI. - Jeffrey Lee, CEO of SfK Ministries