6:34–A little bit about Redi Rock
12:16–A little about my book In His Majesty’s Service
16:44–How do you view this business as a ministry platform?
29:20–The 4:23 question
Ray: Hello everyone is this is Ray Hilbert I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, and welcome back to another edition of the program where we great the incredible opportunity to travel the country and speak with people that love Jesus and who are running businesses and leading companies and organizations in the marketplace and living out of their faith. The analogy we like to use here at Bottom Line Faith that’s where we lift the hood and we tinker around in the engine of Christian leadership, we love to learn how these leaders think, how they plan, how they succeed and yes how they fail and most importantly how does their faith guide their leadership on a daily basis. If this is your first time joining us here at Bottom Line Faith welcome and if you want to check out the website go to bottomlinefaith.org that’s bottomlinefaith.org there are dozens and dozens of our other interviews of leaders that we have talked to from across the country you can scroll down to the bottom of the page there and you can subscribe and receive this program on a weekly basis right there on your mobile device or your laptop and we have platforms on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher all the traditional podcast platforms are there as well. This Bottom Line Faith program is brought to you by the host ministry at Truth At Work, check out our website at truthatwork.org and learn how you can can connect in a community with Christ following business leaders across the county. Well folks, I am excited today I am in Grand Rapids, Michigan and this is a neat, neat city and if you’ve never been to Grand Rapids its a small town with a big city feel, kinda cosmopolitan and its got some of the best of the old and some of the best of the new, it’s got the Gerold R. Ford Presidential Museum here and just some amazing things in Grand Rapids. I am speaking with Ben Manthei, Ben is the founder and chairman of Redi Rock. Ben, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Ben: Well, thank you. It’s great to be here.
Ray: I’m excited to have this conversion and I know you’re excited because you were like really, really early, for this interview, you want to tell our guests about this story? You all, this is going to be fun?
Ben: As it turns out I was actually here a month early by accident and as it turns out I had just been talking to my sister, who is always late to every meeting, and I said, Ruth, you can never be too early, so I was driving down, I live three hours north of here, I was driving down to this meeting and turns out I called Ray and found out I was a month early so I went home and I said, Ruth, I have to apologize to be on your case, you actually can be too early. When you’re a month too early, when you’re a month too early to a meeting, you’re too early.
Ray: We were laughing about this folks before and I told Ben I had that moment of real cold sweats when I got his call and I’m like oh, am I suppose to be in Grande Rapids right now, because, I was, believe me, nowhere near Grand Rapids and I told him that I’m sure glad that he made the mistake and that I didn’t because I would have felt really, really bad. But listen, you folks getting to know Ben, this is a man who’s after God’s own heart. Who has had incredible success in the business world but more importantly, he is a dedicated follower of Jesus. Ben, why don’t we start there, just a little bit. Just give us a snapshot synopsis of how you came to Christ.
Ben: You know I grew up in a Christian home, every night we had an almost mini church service devotions and it wasn’t until I went away to college and I got out on my own and my roommate and I were sitting on a Friday night, all the guys had dropped the girls off at their dorm after a date since we would always sit in our room and smoke the peace pipes and after all our big stories and all guys left. My roommate, he had been recruited to play basketball, but he had grown up an atheist exact opposite of me and I had grown up in a Christian home. We were both searching for adventure in life and so I would go with Dean to the parties on Friday night, he would come to church with me on Sunday morning, well that practical night when everyone left, he said “Ben, have something to share with you,” and I said “Really what?” he said “My girlfriend has been sharing Christ with me I prayed to receive Christ.” and I said, “Dean, how could you do that?” And for the first time I watched him over the next 6 months, I watched a life change. It was the first time I ever saw the power of the Gospel and I remember that following spring after a chapel service at the college, I was at, I went home and I remember writing in the back of my Bible “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” and I had no idea the life of adventure that decision would make but that’s when my faith became mine. It switched from this is what I was taught as a child to this is mine.
Ray: That is a really powerful story because you actually watched a life transform right in front of you.
Ray: So you had maybe, I don’t want to put words in your mouth here, but almost a lifestyle Christianity you’ve been brought up in that and it was kind of the norm, but you literally saw a man change before your very eyes.
Ben: Yeah, and this wasn’t just anyone, this was my roommate. I knew how Dean thought, I knew what he did, all the things that he had done, that I never had the guts to do. But then he shared with me much of pain that had caused in this life and then the transformation it was powerful.
Ray: That’s good. So he actually lived out what you believed.
Ben: That’s pretty good to see.
Ray: Awesome, and so that’s really good to help us understand some of that foundation of your Christian faith and so tell us a little bit about the company here ready Redi Rock, tell us a little bit of History of what you guys do, little bit of the scope and help our audience understand the business side of your life.
Ben: Yeah, we create land out of unusable space and to do that we invented a retaining wall system, it’s large blocks they’re like one ton Legos that look like natural rock and are made out of concrete and every block weighs about as much as a Clydesdale horse. So we created a brand-new niche in the retaining wall industry, there were no big blocks before we started, but we also have a road building company, out in there we have several ready mix plants and we were looking for new markets for to sell ready mix and we were building a big project for a big developer and he needed these retaining walls so we said we can provide something for you, so we dreamt up the first blocks, actually then my brother Jim came up with the first idea, we called them Jimmy’s Jumbo Blocks, because we didn’t have any other name and then it really started working for us so then I said why don’t we take this on the road and we can sell it to other concrete producers and this can be a real money maker, this will change the industry because there was no big blocks like this. So that’s how we started, and I went on the road and in the first seven months sold about $700,000 worth of forms and then I had to come back home and I said we need to build an infrastructure, behind this that the engineering in the marketing installation materials because this thing is really going to take off and the rest is history. Today we have 150 licensed manufactures that build our products across North America and we’re actually in about fifteen countries.
Ray: So did you ever see this coming?
Ben: Never did. I had no idea where this would lead and I’ve always felt I’m just a little bit over my head in what I’m doing because it was a God thing. I will tell you the story behind the story. We had gone, because, this idea never should have came to us, to come up with this this system, but earlier about mid career I was in the road building business with my two brothers and we went to a seminar it was called Quest for Significance, and I remember thinking back on the first half of our careers was really good I mean I got married, starter our businesses, had three kids and was really good and I was thinking what do I want from the second half and do I just want to double everything? Then a friend of mine at businessman from Dallas, Texas called and said “Ben, you need to come with me to this conference.” I said “What’s it called?” he said “Quest for Significance.” I said “Ooh, what does that mean?” and I was struggling with what do I want.
So we went and I’ll never forget the speaker, Dave Hannah, stood up and he said “You guys are all business guys, but you’re thinking too small, I want you to think big enough that it will impact people a thousand years into the future.” and I remember thinking thousand years, I thought and couldn’t name one person, maybe you could, I couldn’t, and there were some pretty big dogs back there. How am I going to impact someone a thousand year in the future? Of course what he went on the say was, and you have probably guest, “If you can impact where someone will spend eternity, you’ve impacted them a thousand years and way beyond.” He challenged us with this life principle, he said, “Guys, we don’t want your money, we want your life.” and life is an acronym, L is for your labor, I is for your influence, F is for your finances and E is for your expertise. He challenged us to come up with an eternal business plane and use our companies to team up with what he was doing in ministries around the world to impact people a thousand years in the future and that’s when my business started having real purpose.
Ray: I want to repeat that, just in case, maybe somebody’s driving and they shouldn’t be writing as they’re driving, maybe they need to pull over. But give us the L.I.F.E. acronym, one more time wouldn’t you Ben?
Ben: Yeah. L is for is for our labor, I is for our influence, I didn’t even know what influence was, I learned later. F is for our finances, and E is for our expertise.
Ray: That’s fantastic and so what I’m gathering in that is that is we would submit all of those onto Christ then that’s a pretty holistic approach to obedience in the abundant life that is fantastic. Well folks we are speaking with Ben Manthei, he is the founder and chairman at Redi Rock and I want you to check out their website to talk about his book here in just a moment but their website is redi-rock.com that’s r e d i then a – rock. You can learn about their company because they really have created an niche as we’ve already learned and I believe that was some divine inspiration there and I think we just learned where it came from was directly back to attending that conference on significance and so Ben, that’s probably a great little segue were going to talk about leadership and lessons learned and so forth but the combination of a kind of your story in your journey is actually captured much of this into a book right and I we got a copy of it here it’s called “In his Majesty’s Service: from Success to Significance.” and why don’t you talk a little bit about the book and then a little bit about your “Anatomy of Courage” movement.
Ben: Yeah, well, the book, which interesting, so we were challenged at that Quest for Significant seminar on these four things and at home I have a hot tub, and I would sit in my hot tub every night, when the kids were small, after they were in bed I would run about a half a gallon of water and I would sit in my hot tub, I would crank it up really hot, and I would sit in it until my water was gone and all the sudden I had what I would call an epiphany and this was ten years later after the seminar, I’m sitting in my hot tub and at the time I had a big map of the world on the wall and when I would travel, giving back, I would put pens on the wall and wherever I would take the kids, a different pain and I was looking at the maps, sitting in the hot tub and I realized, I’ve had a change to use my labor in Mongolia, I’ve had a chance to use my influence at the Russian nuclear missile base where I helped lead a leadership seminar with their top leaders there and impacting one of their leading generals at the base incredible story I had a chance to use my finances in China where we went back and found a lost family treasure fifty years earlier, when my aunt in 1948 went as a missionary and then was thrown out when the Communist party came, credible story.
I’ve had a chance to use my expertise in Columbia, running the gauntlet, at the Colombian airport where they kidnapped Americans and we made it through that. Spoke at a business conference and saw hearts change, this family came to me incredible, I have a picture of them on my hot tub wall, one day I’ll meet him again in heaven. So the epiphany in my hot tub was “I need to write a book.” and I remember jumping out of the hot tub, taking a shower, got dressed and I went to my wife. Wives are so good at keeping us humble, and I said “Nanc, I had this epiphany, I need to write a book.” she just laughed at me, she said “Ben, you don’t even read books how you going to write a book?” and I hadn’t, when I graduate from college I just was tired of books I said, I’ll never read another book, and I hadn’t, other than the Bible, and now I’m reading books again and my sister is a writer so she helped write the book and it is an incredible journey, it’s what the life principle looked like when it was applied so often we learn things when can we apply them, we haven’t really learned them.
Ray: Yeah, so the name of the book folks is In “His Majesty’s ServiceI Service: from Success to Significance”, and just talk real briefly about this Anatomy of Courage project you’ve got going on.
Ben: Yeah, so now I’m in the Fifth Quarter, kind of. I’ve turned over the company to my youngest son, he’s President and I still got a lot of steam in my tank and I got a lot of things I believe God’s calling me to do. So a group of us leaders three of us have started a, well the website is called anatomyofcourage.com and we’re assembling lessons we’ve learned, weather that’s like my book or one of us does seminars on suicide prevention and speaks all around and different tools Anatomy of Courage, is like we’re assembling tools the building blocks of applying to courage to apply principles to our daily life.
Ray: Fantastic, so you can check out that website at anatomyofcourage.com. Amazing, incredible stories, as you’ve talked about all over the world. So lets transition a little bit and lets talk a little bit about, leadership lets talk a little bit about Lessons Learned and so forth you been in this business for awhile, how long as the business been around?
Ben: Yeah this business I started in 2000 when I was forty-five.
Ray: Yeah so now twenty years now so couple of decades and so over the course of that, what are some of the ways that you build into your people some of the opportunities for you give for them to give back how do you minister to them how do you view this business as a ministry platform why don’t you just give us a little bit of framework there.
Ben: Yeah, well it’s interesting through the years it’s changed a little, my generation, we call, myself and my partners, there’s six of us, and we started multiple businesses but our heart is as been, through the years giving back over seas, a lot to third world countries. So I’ve traveled giving back to probably over thirty countries and set on multiple international boards and now we’re starting to transition the company to Gen3, and we have five major divisions of companies and four of those divisions now we’ve turned over to Gen3. And I’ve seen a difference, their passion and heartbeat is a really good thing, has been more towards our employees, we have roughly over 300 employees amongst all the companies and they’re looking to reach out and help our employees engage in the world and the Millennials are much more after how did they make their lives count in their communities in so well last year one of our presidents Abraham, challenged out entire construction team about a hundred, if anybody’s interested let’s go to Tijuana and help house building for the poorest of the poor, where they have dirt floors, it’s really difficult and twenty-six signed up and we flew down there last winter it was an incredible time. Many of them I never been out of the country and what a touching time, and Ray, we were talking just yesterday, I came from Detroit where we’re looking, we’re researching four different inner city Detroit Ministries that we can perhaps get involved with our employees and bring teams down and help in a very different culture than were from I’m from Northern Michigan, a little resort area, Petoskey, Michigan which is a very different culture than inner city Detroit and we have so much to learn from them. The only way we’re going to do it is by getting involved and so we’re looking for opportunities to do that and it’s added so much meaning to our work.
Ray: Yeah, absolutely and for those of you, Ben’s talking about when he sent teams to Tijuana they built with Homes of Hope and if your long time listener here at Bottom Line Faith you know that in a previous episode we interviewed the founder of Homes of Hope Sean Lambert actually, just a few days ago, saw Sean and they’re doing well and God’s explained in that Ministry and its a transformational experience for our employees and you’re listening and you’re looking for an opportunity, to engage your team, it is a great team building exercises isn’t it?
Ben: Oh, tremendous. Tremendous.
Ray: Not only is is a great ministry but it’s a great team builder it teachers about gratitude and working together and someday I’ll have to tell you the story about how I put windows in backwards and got rebuked by the builder there, but that’s another day, another story. Folks we are speaking with Ben Manthei. He is the founder in and chairman at Redi Rock, check them out that’s r e d i -rock.com and we are learning from literally an entrepreneur who God has anointed and blessed over the years and he is getting back and so you mentioned this fifth quarter this concept of fifth quarter and you’re in the stage in your life where things are looking a little different for you what advice would you have for maybe someone who’s listening to the program and maybe they have achieved most of their goals in business maybe they… we have startup entrepreneurs that we have on the program Ben and then we run the gamut and then we have individuals like yourself, who you know you’re in a different chapter in life. So what words of encouragement would you have for someone who’s listening right now? And maybe they’ve acquired success maybe they hit their goals and they’re kind of wondering what is next what would God have me do next what what words of encouragement would you have for them?
Ben: You know I think back, I was sharing on this very topic in China on one of my trips with a group of business guys from Hong Kong, we were on the fifty-second floor on a skyscraper and we were talking about this very thing and I was sharing with them Psalms 67, I call it the prayer triangle and God says Abraham I want you to be a blessing to you, and think of God up at the top, and God is blessing them on one side of the triangle to Abraham I want you, it’s not just for you, a lot of us say “God would you bless me?” but it stops there. No God said Abraham, I wan’t you to be a blessing to others, across the bottom of the triangle, and then others will give God the glory back, it goes back to God. Then God says when he looks down from Heaven and sees this triangle happening, he says the Earth has yielded its produce. Its the way he designed us. So when we’re doing that we get way more out of giving then we ever get back. So in my fifth quarter by the way the fifth quarter is a, I went to a Rose Bowl game when Wisconsin was playing UCLA and the band, the Wisconsin band was so good, they had these red uniforms and these white leggings and they would prance really high, but then the band took the field at the end of the game, and they played what they called the fifth quarter, and instead of marching they play three songs freestyle it was wild. That’s kinda like the stage I’m in when I turned over the day-to-day responsibilities and now I am having a ball giving back with different ministries, transitioning the company’s over to the next Generation leadership and it’s been a lot of fun.
Ray: But you just said something that I think a lot of people struggle with and you’ve given up in terms of the day to day and a lot of times that’s a huge struggle for someone who’s built the company, built an enterprise, had success. How would you encourage somebody who maybe struggling with the giving up part?
Ben: Yeah, so in my case it was my second epiphany, the first one was writing the book, the second was, I was sitting in our hot tub in California, we had built a resort park.
Ray: God’s got something going on for you in hot tubs sounds like.
Ben Manthei- Well, I believe we need to take the time to let our mind quite down and apply the things he’s teaching us.
Ray: That’s right, that’s right.
Ben: And for me I do it in the hot tub, and that’s where God speak to me. And I had an epiphany. I’m a startup guy, I’ve started several businesses, and my son is a scalleup guy, so we need a scalleup guy right now and if I stayed too long I would actually hold the company back. I thought I would work until I was seventy-five, at least, because I love what I do and I had a personal coach come along side me, and he’s really help me plan the next ten years and if I do it right I’m good for fifteen or twenty, with the balance of it and so one of the keys for me in giving up, he said “Ben,” once we came up with our ten year plan “you can’t possibly get to where you want to be unless you give up where you’re at. You can’t be looking backwards, if you’re looking backwards where you where it’s going to keep drawing you. You have to have a goal out in front of you, moving towards something, not moving away from something.and so I actually volunteered on somethings.
I went to, you’re familiar with Willow Creek? They have a global leadership summit. This lady spoke, it changed my life, she said what’s the difference between a brand new rookie in your company, well her topic was “learning beats knowing everyday of the week.”, leaning beats knowing. The rookie they’re learning, they’re asking everybody and they have a breakthrough and they’re excited, their passion is. The season founder, he’s going on stuff he learned way back. He says do this, I know it works. Don’t do this, this doesn’t work. Pretty soon we quit learning, so go volunteer somewhere where you know nothing start at the bottom you will start learning again and your passion will come back. I volunteered with organization where you’re are trying to bring character back to the public school system, huge job. But I’m in a field I know nothing about and I’m learning a ton and my passion is back.
Ray: That’s great advice. I love that, its extraordinarily practical too. Ben’s that helpful to think about regaining passion because that’s one of the big fears of someone, of letting go is like what will I go to? And its hard to go to something unless you have passion around it and so very very practical advice. We’re down towards the end and so I just have to two questions I’d like to ask and they’re actually somewhat related. Ff you think back over the course of your career what was maybe the best piece of advice someone gave you and how did it help shape you?
Ben: You know I remember mid career I went to a promise Keepers event and I was in the Pontiac Silverdome and we were challenged on the concept of prayer walking they taught us how to take the Lord’s prayer and take each syllable and personally apply it, and pray through it. So I started this and I started every day before I go to work, I would throw my briefcase in the truck and walk to the lake and back it’s about a mile and I pray for the Lord’s Prayer and I had been doing this for about three months straight when something happen to me, it totally changed my life. I couldn’t even tell anybody about it for probably two years, but I was watching long all the sudden the presence of God came down on me, I had been worshipping, I was in worship mode, in the Lord’s Prayer and all I could do was just weep for a solid, full two mile walk and all I could do was confess sin and afterwards I realized God had met me in a special way in that prayer walk he has given me since then wisdom for me marriage during that time, in raising our kids in that time, he had given me insight into business, I would walk into a business meeting and I had insights I never would have came up, as a result of taking that time that one discipline is probably impact in my life more than any other discipline.
Ray: Prayer walk?
Ray: That’s incredible. From the Pontiac Silverdome, I think 1995, Promise Keepers if I’m not mistaken.
Ray: That is fantastic. Well one last question and for those of you who are regular listeners here at the program you know this is the one question I always ask every guest and it’s the question I ask at the end, we call it our 4:23 question is based out of Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23 that says “Above all else guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life.” So Ben, let’s just move the clock forward we don’t know when that day and hour will be but let’s pretend you’re at the end of your time this side of eternity you have a chance to gather those who are most precious to you your family, your friends, employees, whoever that may be and you now have a chance to pass along the single most important piece of advice would you fill in the blank for audience here above all else.
Ben: Yeah, build your faith. It is what will last an eternity I would say, I know for me, one of the other challenges to do that, a friend challenge me too, there’s a small book 31 chapters written by the wisest man who’s ever lived and he said Ben you should read on the 7th through the 7th chapter and the 10th through the 10th chapter and pick a verse out of there it’s called, book is called, The Book of Proverbs and all about wisdom and a lot of times I will read that in the morning, pick a verse for that day and then when I go on my prayer walk I figure out how to apply it and then I go to work. That’s where you physical apply it, and then when I sit in the hot tub I say, what did I learn at work, to change for tomorrow? And you know with my family I want you all meet again in Heaven because that’s the long, that’s the final goal. So building our faith, being all we can be in maturity in Christ is probably the number one.
Ray: The above all else above all else?
Ben: The above all else.
Ray: Fantastic. Well let me ask, has this thirty minutes gone fast?
Ben: Yes, it sure has.
Ray: Well folks, again we have been speaking with Ben Manthei He is the founder and chairman at Redi Rock check out their website at ready that’s, r e d i- rock.com all check out Ben’s website anatomyofcourage.com some pretty neat things going on there in and helping leaders grow in their courage to make a change in the world around them. Ben any last words you want to pass along to the audience today.
Ben: No I just want to thank you what an opportunity, its an exciting time to be alive today.
Ray: It really is so amazing things going on and this program your here at Bottom Line Faith I was just speaking with somebody yesterday, I can’t believe I get to do this. Interview to CEO yesterday of about a half a billion dollar company and him just talking about him living at his faith and impact they’re making the marketplaces just to your point then there’s some great things going on and we get to be a part of it and we are very grateful for that. Well folks just a couple of housekeeping things, here as we wrap up another edition of Bottom Line Faith check out the website bottomlinefaith.org, you can scroll all well you can scroll down through there and listen to dozens of episodes there at the website if you’d like to become a regular subscriber please scroll down to the bottom of the web page and whether you use Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play, whatever your podcast platform of choices you can subscribe there also check out truthatwork.org we are the host ministry here at Bottom Line Faith, check out truthatwork.org and particularly on that Round Table tab, if you are a Christ follower leading a business and you would like to connect with a like-minded community of Christ following business owners and leaders across the country check out the truth at work round table I’m sure you’ll be glad you did so until next time this is your host Ray Hilbert at Bottom Line Faith and God bless and go live your faith out in the marketplace.