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Go for it!

Meet six entrepreneurs who did


Melissa Sturgis
Maximum Media Relations
Location: Portland, Ore.
Title: Principal/Publicist
Age: 34

Company description: A publicity firm, which strives for striking publicity results and promotes clients and their products through powerful client partnerships and respectful relationships with the media. “Public awareness drives sales,” says Sturgis. “Which ultimately spreads our clients’ values and message.”

Most impressive company attribute: Represents the work — primarily books and video/DVD products — of many Christian leaders who are shaping the way Christians exercise their faith in the modern world. Clients include Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Willie Aames, Gloria Gaither, Randy Singer, Dr. Bob Reccord and Charles Stanley.

In part because of Maximum Media Relations’ efforts, several clients have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and on television programs such as The O’Reilly Factor and Entertainment Tonight.

“Such coverage means our clients, as believers, are freely participating in the cultural exchange of ideas before a very broad audience, thus influencing the direction of our nation,” says Sturgis, who started the company two years ago.

Biblical principle or verse that defines your company: “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NIV).

Sturgis’ view on taking risks: “Smart, calculated risks can be good. There are many biblical examples of believers taking risks based on faith. I always seek God’s will in prayer, the counsel of wise people and try all opportunities in the court of my mind. In this way, I can subject risky decisions to an emotional, spiritual and intellectual review but leave room for that leap of faith that God sometimes requires.”

Favorite quote relating to business: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

What separates your company from your competitors? “Our goal is to consistently exceed expectations and deliver all that we promise and more. Some companies say they care. Maximum Media Relations lives out the promise.”

Advice you’d give to a budding entrepreneur: “Seek God and talk to people who are already doing what you want to do. Ask a lot of questions and put together a realistic business plan. Prepare by having economic resources available for your business needs and living expenses for the times when business is slow. Be motivated by something more than money. Keep your heart connected to your work and keep your ethical standards high.”

Clifton Taulbert
The Freemount Corporation
Location: Tulsa, Okla.
Title: Founder/Owner

Company description: Freemount Corporation — established as a marketing company — played a significant role in the introduction of the Stairmaster Exercise System. This success allowed Taulbert to pursue his passion of writing, which resulted in nine books including The Last Train North, a Pulitzer Prize nominee. Taulbert also wrote  Eight Habits of the Heart, which in 1995 formed the basis for a new division within the company, the Building Community Institute. The division designs, develops and delivers leadership and diverity training throughout the world — all based on the principles from Eight Habits of the Heart.

Most impressive company attribute: BCI’s leadership principles caught the attention of United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, which garnered Taulbert the opportunity to address members of the court and their guests.

Biblical principle or verse that defines your company: “Value all God’s creation and the gifts within our lives. I take note from Solomon who when building the temple sought the best people, not just the people he knew. No one person or group of people possesses all the skills to get the job done.”

Your view on taking risks: “Entrepreneurs can hear of more opportunities in a short time than most people can think of in their entire lives. The risk entrepreneurs run is spending time on every opportunity that comes their way. Because of that, entrepreneurs have to listen to Scripture more closely, search for godly counsel and think very carefully and prayerfully while looking for the idea that God has sent his or her way.”

Favorite quote relating to business: “Your people will do what they see you do.”

— Robert J. Stevens, CEO of Lockheed Martin

What separates your company from your competitors? “We are committed to living out the principles of Eight Habits Of the Heart — intentional unselfishness.”

Advice you’d give to a budding entrepreneur: “Run fast, but not ahead of God.”

Steve Noonan
Quality Trade Show Products, Inc.
Location: Rocklin, Calif.
Title: President
Age: 40

Company description: Noonan formerly worked for a corporate marketing firm where he organized trade shows and had to rent two products every time: credit card imprinters and the special forms inserted into them. He started QTSP selling his own design of only those two products. Now his company sells hundreds of products, including trade show booths, signage and fabrics with full-color graphics imprinted on them. “We sell anything an exhibitor needs, from carpet to a hanging banner structure,” Noonan says.

Most impressive company attribute: After 15 years, the business has a good reputation for providing quality products, through agreements with different manufacturers, at an honest price. QTSP has clients ranging from small start-up businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

Biblical principle or verse that defines your company: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6, NIV). Noonan has kept a plaque with the verse on his desk his entire career.

Noonan’s view on taking risks: “You have to take risks every day. A lot of times the risks have scared us to death, but if we hadn’t stepped out we wouldn’t have grown. You also have to be prayerful and smart about it.”

Favorite quote relating to business: “I would rather earn 1 percent off 100 people’s efforts than 100 percent off my own efforts.”

— John D. Rockefeller

What separates your company from your competitors? “QTSP focuses on personalized attention in its marketing and customer service. Clients know that the person who started the company still is committed to helping them.”

Advice you’d give to a budding entrepreneur: “Keep your day job. When I started this company I had another good-paying job and didn’t go full-time for 10 months. Start out small, don’t borrow money and let God grow the business.”

Larry Butler
ComTrust (parent company to Goldleaf Data and
Location: Suwanee, Ga. (a suburb of Atlanta)
Title: President and CEO
Age: 57

Company description: ComTrust is an independent provider of national directory assistance. Customers send ComTrust their 411 calls and ComTrust’s call centers fulfill the listing. “You might dial directory assistance and think it’s your local telephone company when, in fact, it may be a company like ComTrust,” Butler says. As a directory assistance provider, ComTrust has access to new number information on a 24/7 basis. ComTrust’s subsidiary Goldleaf Data, with access to nearly 165 million listings nationwide, identifies approximately 1.5 million new movers per month for a variety of end users and marketing companies. Butler, along with his partner Sam Kirk, has been looking for ways to use this data to invite people to church. Scheduled to open this month,, their new online subsidiary, will offer pastors new mover information. Churches that use will have a unique opportunity to connect with new families in their communities when people need them most — within 30 days of a move.

Most impressive company attribute: “ is purely evangelistic,” Butler says. “Usually, a life event such as a job transition, death in the family or divorce is connected with a geographical move. Pastors can now reach that people group at a time when their hearts are ripe to accept an invitation to a local church. Often, their lives are torn up. They’re looking for relationships and counsel.”

Biblical principle or verse that defines your company: “The master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled’ ” (Luke 14:23, NKJV).

Butler’s view on taking risks: “If God’s in it, there is no such thing as a catastrophic risk.”

Favorite quote relating to business: “Real gold fears no fire.”

— Anonymous

What separates your company from your competitors? “We are a telecommunications corporation with a heart for ministry. We want to direct our successes toward furthering the gospel.”

Advice you’d give to a budding entrepreneur: “Don’t be driven by fear; be led by the Spirit. In the world of true entrepreneurialism, which is certainly risk-based, when you know the Lord you still take the risk, but the rewards and motives and intents have changed. You have to hold everything up to the Holy Spirit’s scrutiny. If the risk can’t pass that acid test, I don’t care how good the opportunity looks, it’s not the will of God.”

Ladonnis Reynolds
Grace & Mercy Inc.
Location: Lincoln, Calif.
Title: Co-owner
Age: 32

Company description: Creators of designer clothing for Christian women who want to look stylish and share their faith. “Our designs are abstract on purpose because we want people to see our shirts and ask what they’re about,” says Reynolds. “Doing that opens up territory for women to witness to someone.”

Most impressive company attribute: The development of high-quality products that open the door for Christian women to share their faith.

Biblical principle or verse that defines your company: “We want to operate this company and live up to the characteristics of a godly woman as described in Proverbs 31,” says Reynolds. “To us, that means always being wise, obedient and willing to bust down doors for Christ.”

Reynolds’ view on taking risks: “We have never seen this business as a risk. We see it as being obedient. At some point we might have to walk away, but that has never mattered because the business was never ours to begin with.”

Favorite quote relating to business: “Don’t be afraid to ask others’ opinions for fear that they will steal your idea.” — Source unknown

What separates your company from your competitors? “We put ministry before our product. Our slogan is: ‘Don’t just wear it, live it.’ ”

Advice you’d give to a budding entrepreneur: “Have no fear and have much faith. You just have to go for it.”

Elias Garnica
Garnica Drywall
Location: Nixa, Mo.
Title: President
Age: 43

Company description: Garnica’s teams perform drywall finishing work, including taping and mudding, at construction sites across his southwest Missouri community. Garnica Drywall serves both residential and commercial clients.

Most impressive company attribute: “Getting the job done,” Garnica says. “We’re committed not only to meeting deadlines, but to getting the job done right.”

Biblical principle or verse that defines your company: “It’s really simple, but I build my business around this principle: I treat others the way I like to be treated.”

Garnica’s view on taking risks: “Risk is part of the business. When you deal with people, it’s a risk. I like to believe in people. I let God deal with the rest.”

Favorite quote relating to business: “I learned the trade with my dad,” Garnica says, “and he always said, ‘Son, do the job right no matter what it takes.’ I take pride in what I do, especially since it means I represent Christ with every job.”

What separates your company from your competitors? “Honesty.”

Advice you’d give to a budding entrepreneur: “Be honest and be fair. It makes all the difference and that’s how I run my business.”

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