Think About It

Creating a Business with Soul

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | April 24, 2010

"I believe wholeheartedly that when the right things are done for the right reasons, a company reaps incredible results."
Michael Cardone, Jr.

Over the years I have read many outstanding books on leadership. Again and again I have drawn from the insights of Peter Drucker, Parker J. Palmer, John Maxwell, Peter Senge, Ken Blanchard, John Kotter, Robert Greenleaf, Steven Covey, and Warren Bennis, to name just a few. Their fingerprints are on everything I do. 

But now I have another name to add to that list: Michael Cardone Jr. I have just finished reading his recently published book Business with Soul: Creating a Workplace Rich in Faith and Values (2009) in which he provides a window into the soul of CARDONE Industries, the company he and his wife, Jacquie, along with his parents began in 1970. From those humble beginnings four decades ago, CARDONE Industries has become the largest privately held automotive parts remanufacturer in the world with over 5000 worldwide employees. 

As I made my way through the conversational style of these 23 chapters, I felt as though I was sitting down over a cup of coffee and also looking into the soul of this remarkable company's owner, Chairman and CEO. Their mission is clear: to be the best remanufacturer in the world. 

CARDONE Industries fulfills that mission through their four objectives: "To honor God in all we do; To help people develop; To pursue excellence; To grow profitably." This is all done with four values: "We value our people; We value our work; We value our witness; We value or word." Their foundation is the servant leadership model of Jesus. 

Cardone makes no apology for these values because "we know they work. They are our foundation stones on which we have built a successful and growing company." 

I was fascinated to learn that CARDONE Industries is committed to a triple bottom line. Obviously, no company can survive without the financial bottom line. These are not "dreamy eyed idealists" who ignore the challenges of today's financial realities. But, as Cardone says, "Money is not the only reason for our company's existence." 

He also speaks of the social bottom line. New employees discover they have become a Factory Family Member with a culture rarely seen in the business world. Who their employees are outside CARDONE matters to the leaders of CARDONE. 

The CARDONE leaders believe that every person is a spiritual being and each one brings their faith to their work. And as they develop spiritually and integrate their faith with their work, "it translates into a higher quality of work, productivity, creativity, and a greater sense of personal significance." 

You may find these values unusual for the rough and tumble world of the largest manufacturing company with more than 2.75 million square feet of plant space in Philadelphia. But according to this author, "We have found at CARDONE that when people's behaviors are guided by values, positive energy permeates the workplace and the lines soften between management and worker." 

Over the years this triple bottom line has produced for this company lower turnover rates, fewer work-site injuries, lower absentee and tardy rates, improved ability to attract and retain talented people, high levels of quality, increased productivity and improved morale. 

In this book you will find everything from an altruistic spirit which gives back to the community as well as an urgency which focuses on a tenacious persistence to be excellent. At CARDONE, you will find clear job descriptions which are rooted in caring for the employee. There is even a sense that the factory space itself is sacred space. 

For anyone who wants to incorporate their faith with their business, this is a must read. In a day when the worth of a company seems to be defined in shallow terms of economic viability, it is most refreshing to come across a "business with soul." 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu
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