Have you ever had someone willing to pay you millions of dollars, only to walk away from it?
Chris Klaassen may sound insane, but I assure you, he is everything but. He runs a franchise of Alair Homes, a custom home, remodeling, and light commercial project management company.
In this interview we talk about why he decided to walk away from a multi-million dollar project, his views on how bigger can be better, and a daily habit of his that ensures he always ends the day feeling productive.
How did you get started?
I started after leaving my previous job as a foreman for a concrete forming company owned by my father due to health reasons. A neighbor asked me to renovate his home, and so my company was born.
Can you share a bit of your faith journey?
I grew up in a Christian home, but unfortunately it was an environment more focused on outward actions and appearances, and less on personal faith. I attended church for my entire life, but only became a Christian at the age of 28, after finally hearing the gospel clearly. The Holy Spirit used that to convict me of sin and lead me to faith in Christ.
Over the past 12 years I have served in various church leadership roles, as a deacon and currently as a member of our churches Advisory Council. I’m also involved in a young mens ministry within our church.
My love for others motivates me to do things not legally or contractually required
Do you think of your business as a ministry?
Although it has taken time, I do see my business as a ministry. I believe that through my relationships with my clients, employees and subtrades, I can make an impact for God’s kingdom.
How we respond to challenges can either bring glory to God or damage our witness. The area I struggle with is in personal evangelism to those in my network and this is an area I desire to grow in.
What are some ways in which you run your business differently than someone who is not a believer?
The difference should be that I run my business in line with Biblical principals and not out of selfish ambition or pure profit motives. My love for others motivates me to do things not legally or contractually required.
Should we grow businesses or keep them small?
I believe this answer is different for everyone.
If growing your business doesn’t take away from your responsibility to God, your wife, family, or church, and it allows you to have a greater impact for the kingdom of God, then by all means, grow your business.
If however, it takes your priorities off of those things, then you probably need to stay small.
Another factor is whether you are able to adequately provide for your family, as this may dictate the growth of your business.
My experience is that a larger, well managed business frees me for more time and finances to prioritize my family and church.
Do others in the church mistakenly believe you are in business only to “get rich”?
Not that I’m aware of, but my standard response to this is to have a generous spirit and be known for that.
Have you ever seen a conflict between serving profits and serving God in your business? If so, how have you dealt with this?
I have, and it’s always a test of faith.
A few years ago I was asked to construct a multi-million dollar Buddhist temple. I spent lots of time justifying it, telling myself and others I would give the profits to God.
Start your day with a quiet time of prayer and Bible reading
Ultimately it took a friend to warn me that God wouldn’t bless me constructing a temple to a false God for me to put a stop to the deal.
I’ve also been asked multiple times to do things without proper permits, for cash, etc. I simply tell people that I won’t work that way.
Do you struggle with the ethics of selling and marketing? What has helped you with this?
No, but primarily because I’m completely transparent with people.
Every business needs profit to survive, and this isn’t wrong. We just need to be sure we are treating people fairly and honestly, both in sales and marketing.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
Is there a time when you really had to rely on God for something? When you have had to make a “leap of faith”?
Multiple times, mainly at critical points in our business.
At several points we’ve wondered whether to make a large investment, either in a new staff member, or to grow our business, and it’s always been a time of prayer and looking for direction, then moving forward in faith.
How do you think about work/life balance?
I think work/life balance is critical, especially as a husband and the father of two.
However, I don’t believe this means our kids shouldn’t see us work hard and diligently, but rather, that we make time between hard work to spend meaningful time with them.
This can be attendance and involvement in sports and hobbies, vacation time together, or date nights. I partly accomplish this by having a home office so I can enjoy most meals with my family or a coffee with my wife in the middle of a hectic day.
Do you have any books or other resources that you would recommend to other Christian business owners?
I would recommend these books:
- God in the Marketplace by Henry and Richard Blackaby
- People over Profit by Dale Partridge
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
What habit have you developed over the years that you think others would benefit from having?
Most importantly, start your day with a quiet time of prayer and Bible reading. This does more for getting your perspective right than anything else. Commit all your problems and worries to God — he’s way better at dealing with them than we are!
The other habit I find helpful is to keep a journal through my day of tasks, phone calls, details, etc. It gives me a sense of accomplishment as well as keeps me on task.
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