By Jamie Shafer
As we read the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, we find a simple yet bold directive: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” The more we search Scripture, the more we find that God expresses his desire for us to impact the entire world, right down to our own family and neighbors, with no apparent exclusion for our places of employment.
While many of us spend 40-50 hours a week at work, we have opportunities to share life with coworkers and customers—imparting our achievements, failures, and faith. Expressing faith in the workplace isn’t new, but it is a path some have found tricky to navigate—or perhaps were afraid to attempt to walk. On any given week, we might see our coworkers as much as we see our own families. We share life and influence one another. As we walk the journey, we must avoid compartmentalizing our lives, and instead seek to live as whole people, permeated by our faith in the natural flow of life, with courage and intention.
In Marketplace Faith, we’ll examine the foundations and values of different workplaces, searching for
examples of how personal faith is intermingling with everyday business. Sometimes those examples are just around the corner, maybe even as close as the neighborhood car wash.
The Mike’s Car wash Family
Originally opened in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1948, Mike’s Carwash is a private, family-owned business, founded by brothers Joe and Ed Dahm. Now with 37 locations in Indiana and Ohio, Mike’s website notes that they are in the top one percent of 30,000 car washes in the United States.
Since her father and uncle now run the business, it’s only natural that Sally Grant found her way back to Mike’s in the course of her career. Now serving as the company’s marketing director, Sally is proud to work for a company that has maintained the culture it started more than 60 years ago.
“Our faith principles have always been expressed in our family and our business,” says Sally. “In team meetings, our employees are always reminded that our priorities are God, family, and work—in that order.” With more than 600 employees, Mike’s has been able to maintain a sense of family within the company while still striving for excellent service. They hold to the principle that they are really in the people business, and they just happen to wash cars.
Each year, Mike’s holds several appreciation gatherings for team members and their families. Grant notes that the events are always led with prayer and a time to thank God for all of his blessings during the year. “We express our beliefs,” notes Grant.
Christmas with Purpose
In recent years, those beliefs were shared with the community in the form of billboards. For decades, Joe and Ed Dahm felt it was important to remind everyone of the real purpose for the Christmas season. So as shoppers ran from one holiday errand to the next, simple billboards bearing the company’s name rem-
inded them to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
When asked how customers responded to this statement in light of today’s culture, Grant explains, “The billboards were meant to be a reminder of the reason we celebrate Christmas. As a result, though, we received many letters and calls from the community—positive responses thanking us for taking a stand.” One Indianapolis customer shared online, “Those billboards are why I started using your business.”
Grant says employees at indi-vidual car washes also express the seasonal sentiment. “Whenever Joe is present and hears an employee say, ‘Happy Holidays,’ he stops and says, ‘Now, make sure they say “Merry Christmas.”’ I think customers respect a company that isn’t afraid to say what Christmas means to them.”
The company has also branched out to assist nonprofit groups with fundraising efforts. “Our fundraising program provides a way to help nonprofits like a church or a youth group trying to raise money,” says Grant. By the end of 2011, Mike’s projects that they will have been able to put one million dollars back into communities through the program.
“I’m grateful,” says Grant. “Our founders instilled a wonderful culture at Mike’s and our people are still maintaining it today.”
Jamie Shafer is the Communications Director at East 91st Christian Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband Eric have two children.