Hostile Take-Over Prevented Through Prayer

Chris Jackson tells how another company made an attempt at a hostile take-over and how prayer helped them survive, transform, and thrive.

By Chris Jackson

Categories: Guidance, Power of Prayer

My sisters and I began the purchase of Samuel Jackson, Inc., the family business, in 1990. We manufacture moisture control machinery for processing fibrous material, like cotton. We had a lot of hard times. But I didn’t want to give up on the company.

I wasn’t in a financial position to retire, and I didn’t want to settle for a life in a large company that would not allow me to put my family first. Also, I didn’t want to work for a company that would ask me to take advantage of a customer, bribe a supplier, or intimidate a customer. Unfortunately, these are things I still see daily. I didn’t see any other choice but to make Samuel Jackson a really great company.

One of the most difficult times was also one of the defining moments for our company. Ever since the 1960s, we had effectively been a contract manufacturer. We had invented several machines that we sold to large companies that made heavy machines for processing cotton. They would package our machine with theirs. 80-90% of our revenue came from just two or three of these companies, and not end users. As we started increasing service and quality in 1995, the end users began telling the large machine companies that they would only buy their gins with Samuel Jackson machines in them.

The big companies didn’t like this practice; they viewed it as the tail wagging the dog. So in 1996, they began a strategic approach to purchase Samuel Jackson at the best possible price. To do that, they needed to weaken us. They deployed their rather large sales force to find out all our possible sales and then to do everything they could to discredit us or trash that sale through rumor, innuendo, lies, you name it. They did a pretty good job, too. They were starving us to death. While they were doing so, I was receiving “friendly” calls from their CFO who was saying, “I heard an industry rumor that you were for sale.” I assured him that was not on our wish list.

I was praying daily, even hourly. My prayer led me to try to see and acknowledge the good in specific people. At the same time, if people had wronged us, I tried to detach the wrong they had done from them, from their character. I saw a lot of ugly business practices, and I would pray to not attach those practices to the specific individuals who committed them. When I was successful, it was hugely helpful. It was easy to see the good in others. I saw a lot.

The frustration that I experienced through the intentional seeding of lies and innuendo by others reminded me of the parable Jesus offered in regard to the tares and wheat (Matt 13:24-30). The character in his parable advised allowing both to grow together until harvest, at which point they would be recognized and separated. This is precisely what has happened over the course of the past 19 years.

The continued pressure forced us to stop relying on these other companies and take our message directly to our end user. We didn’t really know how to do this since none of us had any business training; we were just a group of engineers. There were painful years. We managed to make ends meet, but it wasn’t very fun.

Five or six years later, we looked up and realized we had learned quite a bit. We had learned how to phrase our message to end users. More importantly, we had changed our entire perspective from “selling a machine” to “solving a problem” for our customers. This change in perspective was naturally absorbed in our new approach to all customer relationships, including our marketing efforts.

For the last seven years, our total annual gross revenues from the big companies has never exceeded more than 2%, and last year it was less than ½ of 1%. The rest has all come from end users. That’s a pretty dramatic change, and most people would say that it’s not the same company.

We find a pool of receptive thought in our industry, perhaps not huge, but significant in size and notable in regard to leadership. We link with these forward-thinkers and work to change outlook and perspective on the part of those slower to recognize and embrace our forward progress. There is no greater feeling of satisfaction for me than joining with this type of progress.