Roger Muselman, Chairman of DRG, shares insights on how to be confident, without becoming arrogant. He also shares tips on how to successfully integrate you work and family life.
Full transcript:
Ray: Well, hello and welcome to another episode of Bottom Line Faith, the podcast where we get to know some of the most influential Christ followers in business in the marketplace in America today. This is really our chance to sit down with these leaders and kind of lift the hood and take a look around the engine and see how they live, how they lead, and how they live out their faith on a practical basis each day in their business. I am your co-host, Ray Hilbert. Our other co-host is Adam Ritz, who is out of town on assignment today. So, I get the incredible pleasure of interviewing this guest at Bottom Line Faith. I’m really excited to introduce to you Roger Muselman, who is the chairman of DRG. We’re in beautiful downtown Berne, Indiana, and for those of you who have never been to Berne, you might want to look it up on Google maps or Google earth. You’ll find its also really kind of an interesting episode for myself, because this is the little town where my wife, Beth, was born and raised for the first five years of her life. So, it’s kind of like a personal homecoming. Roger Muselman, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Roger: Thank you, Ray, it’s great to be with you this morning.
Ray: Folks, you’re going to be in for a real treat. This is a man of great reputation and of great business success but most importantly a committed and sold out follower of Jesus Christ. So, Roger, we got lots of things we’re going to talk about in today’s episode of Bottom Line Faith, but before we get into your leadership and your company and those sorts of things, just tell us a little bit about your personal background and how you came to Christ.
Roger: Sure, sure. I was born in Berne, Indiana, in 1964 to a wonderful family, wonderful parents. I have a younger sister, who is sixteen months younger than me. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Went to South Adams High School here in Berne, graduated 1982 and then went on the Taylor University and graduated degree in business in 1986 and then got an NBA at the Kellogg School of Management Northwestern University. Grew up in a Christian family from day one, incredible role model of parents. Loved Christ from day one and really solidified my faith in my early high school years with Fellowship of Christian Athletes here in Berne. Came to Christ at a young age and have been living that way for fifty-two years. I was fortunate to meet my wife at Taylor University, where I graduated. She was a year behind me. She’s from Chicago. Her name is Naomi, and we were married in 1988. So, we’re going on twenty-eight years here in a few months. We’re blessed to have a daughter, Sarah, she’s twenty-four. She lives in New York City, she’s a Taylor graduate as well, of 2014. Our son, Mark, is a 2016 graduate of Taylor. He lives in Indianapolis. Then we have a son David, who is a seventeen-year-old Sophomore at South Adam High School, here in Berne.
Ray: Any chance that he might also go to Taylor?
Roger: He will probably go to Taylor. Yes, that’s a very good guess, yes. Got to keep it in the family. We love Taylor.
Ray: That’s right. That is exceptional, that is exceptional. So, Roger and just that little introduction of your background is there some family history here in the business? We’ll learn more about the company, but it sounds like from a very early age you kind of had a business background.
Roger: Yes, my grandfather came from Wurzberg, Germany in 1901, as a fifteen-year-old indentured servant. Left his family. There’s a Mennonite pastor from Scottdale, Pennslyvania; he went to Germany looking for a young man to come to America and learn the printing trade. So, my grandfather, age fifteen said “I’ll come.” Left his parents and two older brothers. When he had enough money to return, both parents had died, and that was before FaceTime, Skype, texting, emailing, so it was quite a step of faith. He came, and he learned to run a linotype machine, producing the Bible and the Martyr’s Mirror, which is a very thick book of Anabaptist martyrs from the time of Christ until the 17th century. We think about the course he set for a family, such is pretty impressive, you know, cause we don’t know what, you know, if he would have not taken that challenge and come to the United States, we don’t know what to do today.
Ray: So here we have, this was your grandfather?
Roger: My grandfather.
Ray: Fifteen years old?
Roger: Fifteen years old.
Ray: Leaves home to come over to America? He gets into the printing business.
Roger: He did, he did.
Ray: And there’s the faith element. Printing the Bible and the books of the martyrs and those sort of things.
Roger: Yeah.
Ray: That’s incredible, and that definitely helps impact who you are even today and what your company is.
Roger: Yeah.
Ray: So take a few moments and share with us about DRG and the companies that are a part of DRG.
Roger: My grandfather started the printing company back then, called Economy Printing in 1925. So, he had been in the United States for a few years and had the mindset that you don’t just need to be a printer for your community. He had the mindset that we could print anything, anywhere in America. Then my father and uncle really grew the company in the 50’s. 60’s, 70’s, and into part of the 80’s. My dad was in charge of sales, and we always made the joke that he would get on the train every other week probably to go to from Chicago from Fort Wayne with a roll of dimes. He’d go into a phone booth and start calling publishers and ask them if he could get a competitive price quote. And we joke because most of the time, our customers back then, this is before my time, were in the very front of the alphabet. There were no customers at the end of the house that he never got to the end. So, the mindset gave us the thought that we could print anything, for anybody, anywhere in the county. Which made us a national printer. Then in the mid 80’s we got into publishing. Then the family owns half interest in the furniture manufacturing company called Smith Brothers of Berne. Have a little local newspaper. It’s the only tri-weekly published Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the state of Indiana and a variety of other items, other companies.
Ray: So, a lot going on. A whole lot going on.
Roger: Yeah, a lot of fun.
Ray: That’s a lot broader than I was even aware of. That’s exciting, very exciting stuff. So, we’ve learned a little bit about the background history so at what point in your own career or your own you know, at the stage of Life did you really get a passion and say “Yeah this is what I think I want to do with my life”?
Roger: Well, growing up as a child my father was very involved, you know, he was very involved in the printing operation. That’s all that the family had at the time. So every night at the dinner table we talked printing and it just sort of flowed. It’s risky for children to come right back into the family business. It’s very risky. In fact, we have a family employment policy now that does not allow future generations to come back into the business without prior experience. But, my cousin and I did come back into the business, right out of school, right out of our university lives and it’s worked well. I did think for a while about maybe going into public accounting for a while, tax accounting, and thought, you know, the best trainer for me, the best mentor for me is my dad. So, came right into the business in 1986 and he was masterful at teaching me how to make- He allowed me to make decisions. Which a lot of young people today don’t know how to make decisions. You know, they vacillate between this and that. So, my dad would let me make little decisions, so if I made a wrong decision, it wouldn’t mess things up too badly. Then as time went on, he allowed me to make larger decisions. He’s my hero.
Ray: That’s terrific and what a great example you’ve been able to have as your dad, and I know you’re passing this along to your kids as well. So, Roger, what I’d like to do if you wouldn’t mind is let’s just kind of now lift the hood, so to speak, and let’s learn about Roger, the leader. Let’s learn about lessons learned and those sorts of things. So, as you kind of look back, you mentioned your dad, mentoring and so forth. I would assume he gave you some great advice along the way, a young man growing up, not only as a son but eventually in business as well. Perhaps there have been others who have given you great advice too. So let’s kind of dial in for just a moment, let’s talk about some of the best advice you’ve ever been given. Who gave it to you and how’s it impacting you today?
Roger: Well most of the advice I received early on was from my parents, very solid advice. As I’ve gone through life, then develop relationships with other people that you lean on for advice, help, and I’ve got blessed to have quite a few of those in my life for various situations. But the top thing that I was taught from an early age was taught to have an eternal perspective.
We get so wrapped up in this world. We get so worked up over this or that, and we’re here for a mere eighty years if we’re lucky, if we’re fortunate, and eternity goes on forever. If you look at it, when I look at my problems, my issues, or things I need to deal with in light of eternity, it really puts it into perspective. It makes them not that big of a deal.
So, living with an eternal perspective would be something I try to do every day. Then you know growing up in a Christian home I was trained that nothing can enrich your life more than getting to know God better every day and the wonder of Jesus, you know, in his life and every day trying to get to know the Lord better and that being the primary relationship for me and I think it should be for everybody. A relationship with Christ as my primary relationship. In fact, I think one’s life is incomplete without a relationship with Jesus. Incomplete.
And then I would also say my parents really taught my sister and I at a young age the power of money. It can be good or bad if used in the right way or the wrong way and money is very powerful and so those would be some biblical principles. Then it’s also about people. You know, it’s not about all the stuff we have, and it’s all about relationships and my parents’ motto, love God, love others. You know four words, and if you can do that, it can make life pretty simple. We taught our children and my parents told me if you can live by biblical principles, you know it can be the Ten Commandments or other items in Scripture, if you live that way, your life does not get so complicated. When you veer from those, life gets really messy and complicated. I’m not perfect by any stretch, I’m not here to say that, but I strive my best to live by biblical principles, Judeo-Christian values, a biblical worldview and that makes life less complicated and wonderful.
Ray: Well, I love, you know, the things you talked about, kind of like the book ends there, that it’s kind of about people and having an eternal perspective. I know that those of us that are business owners and business leaders and Christ-followers, sometimes those, I don’t want to say conflict, but we have tough people decisions to make, right? We love people, and yet sometimes it’s not the best fit for them to stay in a given role or in a given company per se, right? Will you just talk a little bit about how your faith has impacted some of the tough people decisions? Not so much specific situations, but just as a principal, how do you go about leading people with a Biblical perspective?
Roger: Well, we love all people. We try our best to love all people. We might not love all of the actions that they do, and the last thing we want to do is keep people on our team where they are not growing, thriving, and they’re not- they know it’s not a fit and we know it’s not a fit. One of our directors, we govern our board with four outside directors, and I remember many years ago he said be slow to hire and quick to fire. Investing in people, ends up, you know, we invest in multi-million dollar printing presses, but the investment in people is even greater over time and so we do our best when it is time to make a change, to do it gracefully, to do it in love, as best we can if we can. Sort of lost my train of thought here.
Ray: Let me just offer a thought or a comment there. A lot of times I hear business owners say “Hey, we’re a Christian company.” And I’ve got some great advice on that myself. One is there really is no such thing as a Christian company. A company is an entity; a company is a legal formation. Jesus didn’t come to die for companies, He came to die for people, right? So, that just has to impact us as leaders. It should impact us as leaders. Especially when you’re having a conflict, especially when things aren’t going well, about how we can love people through those transitions. I know that’s an important part of your of leadership as well.
Roger: Absolutely, and it’s always our goal. When we have to make a change that the person doesn’t have a bad taste, it’s hard not to have a bad taste, but if we treat them properly, treat them as we’d want to be ourselves, it works a little bit better. Speaking about employees and serving employees, one thing that we are so high on in our business, in all of our businesses, we have a corporate chaplain. And I’ll talk about that later. We are so high on having a chaplain to care for each of our employees. We serve them, we care for them financially, intellectually, physically, but for years we wondered how can we care for them spiritually? Not all your employees want to come to you with there problems. No one wants to come to the owner or the boss with problems, but if we have a chaplain there, you could have a whole podcast of how chaplains have impacted our business and some other businesses, that I know of in such a positive way.
Ray: It is an amazing thing I know many companies around the country that are using chaplains and doing everything from weddings, funerals, and hospital visitations, and really is about caring for the whole person. So, these are some of the things that are going well, that you are doing well in your company. None of us like to talk about our mistakes or our failures, but I’d like to. I know you’ll be kind enough, but offer up, share maybe the biggest mistakes that you can recall making in leadership or in business. What did you learn from it?
Roger: Well, I was thinking back over that question. I would have to say more so at a younger age than today, but hasty decisions. I’m a fast decision maker. That’s not always the best. Like I said earlier, you’ve got to be able to make a decision but you want to make it in a wise way. What I’ve learned from making some hasty decisions back years ago was it’s best to take time and seek guidance and wisdom from someone that’s been through that, mentor or a friend. And it’s so important to always have someone to share that perspective with and critique an idea that I might have or that someone else might have. I’m blessed for the last eighteen years to be in a business group that meets one day a month for a whole day, YPO, and for eighteen years I’ve been able to do this and these guys provide tremendous help in difficult situations and provide wisdom. I’ve got some close colleagues here in Berne. You know who you can go talk to when you have to make a tough decision, in investments or in acquisitions or a divestiture or something like that. So, I think it is easy to rush to decisions, but it is most important to have wisdom and counsel to help you with those.
Ray: That’s a great point. I know in Proverbs alone there’s over twenty verses or twenty examples where it talks about values and godly counsel and so forth. So, if you’re a business leader today, in fact, Roger, I think we are discovering that perhaps the one word that really describes the Christian in business today is isolated. And that is just the way Satan would want it to be for that leader to just be isolated to not have counsel around them. To be making decisions on their own and the fact that you’re surrounding yourself with Godly counsel, it demonstrates a lot of wisdom, and I think it can help us prevent future mistakes as we have made in the past and that’s fantastic. So, let’s just talk real quickly, what are two or three best practices that you demonstrate here that are based on biblical principles?
Roger: Well my parents taught my sister and I from an early age to be humble, and humility is key. What we try to teach our kids is to have confidence with humility but not to have confidence become arrogance. So, humility is key, if you can be a humble person and confident person, that’s a powerful combination, but don’t let it lead to arrogance. I like to read a lot and get out of the office and meet people, and there is a saying I read in a book a while back “We’ll be the same people in five years except for the books we read and the people we meet.” That’s so important to get out and not just be isolated in your office, but to get out of your community, get out of your comfort zone, go somewhere and meet new people. Feed your mind for ninety minutes a day, work hard to focus on your mind, and that starts with, for me, reading the Bible, I read the Bible through every year, and I would highly recommend that to read through the Bible every year.
Another best practice that my dad taught me early on was to hire people smarter than you in various areas. You can’t do everything yourself, and if you can get rid of the ego and be humble and hire people smarter than you, it’s amazing how far your company can go. And don’t micromanage; don’t get in the way. We say we set up fence posts and we just want to keep the car going down the road, set goals but don’t micromanage. We were fortunate to be able to build a board of creative directors back in the late 90’s. So, we’ve had a board for fifteen to twenty years, and I think I said earlier, you know, having a group to bounce ideas off of, it could be a board of advisors if you don’t go all the way to have a board of directors, and as I said earlier utilize the use of a corporate chaplain for your employees. Those to me, are the best practices to share with other Christian business and marketplace leaders.
Ray: Those are all excellent, excellent points. We were talking before we went on air here about some of the challenges, you know, being in the printing business and you’ve had examples where you really had to take a stand for your Christian faith and perhaps lost business or jeopardize business by taking a stand. Would you maybe just elaborate a little about what that process was like, what may have happened there?
Roger: Sure, Ray, we have a list of things we won’t print here, we won’t print anything counter to Judeo-Christian beliefs, we won’t print any pornography, anything with a cult, anything like that. A number of years ago, I can’t remember how many years ago, we were printing a university magazine, student-produced university magazine and some major social issues came up, it wasn’t a social issue, but it was how it was portrayed. These students freaked out when we said we weren’t going to print that. Social media went crazy, and we took some heat for that. But we knew that the truth always prevails, and we made it through just fine. But in the heat of the moment, you’re thinking, wow, what if this becomes more blown out of proportion and hits the national pres?. A small printer in Berne, Indiana, refuses to print, whatever it is, and the media would love to take that. This was probably four or five years ago. Today would be even more difficult, with the current situation that our country is in.
Ray: Well and we have a lot of activism, and it seems like it’s okay to be tolerant of everything except Christianity.
Roger: Exactly, exactly.
Ray: And I’ve always found that amazing. You give those examples, but yet God has been faithful, right?
Roger: Amen, amen, amen.
Ray: You took a stand, again not being angry people and not judging it’s just, look that’s not who we are, that’s not what we’re about. So, hopefully, that’s an encouragement to some of our listeners here that maybe you’re facing a decision right now that maybe you’re thinking, wow if I don’t do this or if I do that there is going to be some negative consequences to that in business. And you know what, there very well may be. Let’s be mindful that Jesus did absolutely nothing wrong and yet he had major consequences all the way to the faithfulness on the cross. And so it is true that as a Christ-follower in business sometimes making those decisions, to hold true to our faith there is going to be penalty and consequence. But let’s be reminded the Word is very clear; we’re playing to an audience of one and we’re playing for God’s glory and to have fear of God and not fear of man.
So, Roger, thank you for sharing those examples and modeling that. So, believe it or not, we are already getting down to the end of our time together. But I know you have a real passion around financial stewardship and around money management, and God has obviously blessed you and your family with wonderful business success, and it is through that humility and also just attention to good detail that you have had business success. But why don’t you take just a few moments here to share with us some of your thoughts and inclinations on stewardship and money management? This is an important topic to you.
Roger: Yes, thank you. I’ve been trained since I was a kid that money is powerful and therefore can be dangerous if not used properly. The biblical perspective that I have is that everything is from God and belongs to God. So, God is responsible a hundred percent for our blessings, every success, every outcome, every reward in my life. I only have these things because God gave them to me. He owns everything, and He asks us to manage it as if it’s not ours; we are just the managers, the stewards as we pass through for eighty years or so. With this perspective, it creates seriousness, motivation, humility, gratefulness, and generosity. I’ve seen over and over what happens with people that are faithful to this perspective and God continues to give them more and more to manage. I’ve seen the opposite as well, where people just can’t get out of a hole and the more He gives, the more convinced we are that we don’t own our money or our things.
This is the perspective we try to teach our children, you know it is a serious topic, you don’t want to just be flippant with your money, you want to make good decisions. One of the best financial tips given to me by my parents is, you can’t out give God. In the Bible, there is a mandate to tithe; I believe it is a mandate, not an option. It’s the only command; tithing is the only command in the Bible that God says to test me. In Malachi 3:10 it says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” And then it says “test me in this, says the Lord Almighty and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” And the power of compounding interest is very powerful; I call it one of the wonders of the world. The power of compounding interest, and if a young person would invest $100 a month from age twenty-five by age sixty-five you would probably have with normal market returns a million dollars at retirement, I mean you would have to run the numbers but money is important to God. There are 2,350 times money is mentioned in the Bible, twice as many times at faith and prayer combined, which is 15% of God’s spoken word in the Bible concerning money. So, it’s a big deal; it’s a very big deal.
Ray: It has a way of capturing our hearts, right? As the Scripture says, and I’ve heard it misquoted so many times. “The Love of money” or “money is the root of all evil”, well the scripture says “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.” Right? So, money in and of itself isn’t good or bad. If there was a million dollars sitting on the table right now, it’s not doing anything except when it’s in our hands, it’s a reflection of our heart and our intentions, right?
Roger: Absolutely. Someone said show me your checkbook and your calendar, and I’ll tell you what’s important to you.
Ray: That’s exactly right. Well, Roger, we are amazingly at the end of our time together. This one question is always the last question that we ask on Bottom Line Faith and it’s what I call our Proverbs 4:23 question. And forgive me Roger, but I always like to take a moment to set the stage to remind our listeners what we mean by the 4:23 question. It says in Proverbs 4:23 where Solomon’s words say, “Above all else guard your heart, where your heart determines the course of your life.” And Roger there are some biblical scholars that believe that those were among Solomon’s last words. I’ve read some biblical scholars that believe he may have pinned those words on his deathbed. So it kind of makes sense, you know, as all these lessons, principles, and truths that he tells us about in Proverb, but now he is at the end of his life, and he says “I know that you’ve learned all this other stuff but above all else.” And we know what it is like when somebody is at the end of their life, and they are saying those last words, we’re going to pay attention, right?
Roger: You bet.
Ray: So, Roger let’s fast forward to the end of your days on Earth, your family and friends are gathered around, and you’re sharing your above all else advice. What would you say to our listeners? Above all else…
Roger: Love God, love others.
Ray: It’s that simple.
Roger: Four words.
Ray: That you heard from?
Roger: My parents.
Ray: Your parents. Pretty simple, I love it. I love the simplicity, and it’s really the summation of Jesus’s command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love thy neighbor as thyself.
Roger: We call them the top two.
Ray: The top two, I love that. Well, folks, we have once again been blessed by one of our country’s greatest and most Godly Christian business leaders, Roger Muselman, here at DRG. He is the chairman at DRG, check them out and by the way Roger, how can we learn more on the web?
Roger: is our website, that would be the gateway to the different businesses that are involved under that umbrella. We have forty or fifty e-commerce websites to buy product, but that is the informational site.
Ray: That is fantastic. Well, we just want to thank you for the incredible generosity of your time today. Any closing thoughts that you might want to add?
Roger: I thank you, Ray, for all your doing and the impact that you’re having in Indiana and beyond Indiana and I wish you success and a great day.
Ray: That’s very kind of you, Roger. Well, folks, am you co-host, Ray Hilbert, this is another episode of Bottom Line Faith podcast, and until next time, God bless and we’ll see you soon.