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10 U.S. Companies You Didn't Know Had Religious Founders

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 03:23 PM

Some business leaders make no secret of their religious faith or how it affects the way they run their companies — Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, for example, were much in the news for their founders’ religious stances. With others, it might be surprising. Here are 10 U.S. companies whose religious roots might not be so obvious:

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1. Marriot: Bibles in the drawer in the hotel room are almost a given, but it goes beyond that in the Marriott hotel chain, according to Business Insider. Founder John Willard Marriott was a leader in the Mormon Church when he built his company. Marriott guests often find the Book of Mormon along with a Bible in their rooms, and you won’t find pay-per-view porn on your room TV, according to a report from Business Insider.

2. JetBlue: JetBlue passengers will often find founder and CEO David Neeleman on their plane, greeting them while wearing a flight attendant’s apron. This approach to customer service has roots in Neeleman’s time as a Mormon missionary. “My missionary experience obliterated class distinction for me,” he says in the book The Mormon Way of Doing Business. “I learned to treat everyone the same. If anything, I have a disdain for the upper class and people who think they are better than others.”

3. ServiceMaster: You might hire a ServiceMaster company to clean your house (Merry Maids) or kill the bugs (Terminix) but you might not know founder Marlon Wade, a former baseball player, started his business out of his home, determined to run it the way his “strong personal faith” said he should, according to the company history.

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4. George Foreman Grill: That “lean, mean fat-reducing grilling machine” is brought to you by George Foreman, the company spokesman who credits his business success with a “religious awakening” he experienced a few years after retiring from professional boxing, one that led him to ministering to youth on the streets of Houston.

He told Success magazine that integrity was good business sense as well. “You must preserve the quality of your name, your integrity,” he said. “You don’t want to lie about anything.”

5. Carl's Jr.: “Hamblor, the God of Hamburgers,” was a feature of Carl’s Jr. commercials in 2011, but the hamburger chain’s late founder, Carl Karcher, and current chief executive Andy Puzder, shared a deep Catholic faith, according to Bloomberg Business News — which notes that the ad agency behind the “Hamblor” commercials was David & Goliath.

6. Interstate Batteries: The boss of Interstate Batteries gets a charge out of Christianity. In fact, Norm Miller stepped aside as president to become chairman to allow more time to address Christian audiences, reported CNN.

7. Forever 21: You might not like your daughter going out in the saucy, skimpy duds she bought at Forever 21, but Christians might like the message on the bag in which she brought it home: “John 3:16” is printed on the bottom of each of the clothing giant’s bags as a “demonstration of the owner’s faith,” according to CNN. Business Insider reports the Chang Family are born-again Christians.

8. H.E.B.: Texans might be familiar with the grocery chain H.E.B., but they might not know vice chairman Howard E. Butt Jr. and the Rev. Billy Graham worked together in the 1950s on spiritual programs for business people. Butt, now a preacher, also runs a Christian retreat. Until 1976, Business Insider notes, H.E.B. stores were closed Sundays and would not sell alcohol.

9. Curves: Curves gyms are heaven for women who want to work out without being ogled or judged, and even the founder’s name is “Heavin.” But that’s not all. Gary Heavin, a born-again Christian, stuck to his conservative political views and support of anti-abortion causes even when that led some members to cancel their memberships, said Business Insider.

10. Tom's of Maine:
Natural toothpaste for sensitive teeth is why many people turn to Tom’s of Maine. But even though the company is “not that outwardly religious,” according to Business Insider, founder Tom Chappell is a Harvard Divinity School graduate who, on the advice of one of his professors, treats his business “like a ministry.”

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Some business leaders make no secret of their religious faith or how it affects the way they run their companies — Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, for example, were much in the news for their founders’ religious stances.
religious companies
Friday, 08 May 2015 03:23 PM
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