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Textile company chief urges reliance on God in business world

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By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher

PORTLAND — Just as there are seasons in life,  they also are to be expected in the up-and-down business world, but the key is to let God guide, the Christian leader of a local textile company said at an annual event here focused on applying faith in the marketplace.

“He takes us through good times and difficult times,” said Robb Pickens, president and CEO of Portland-based Corinthian Textile Solutions Inc.

Pickens was featured speaker April 6  at the Portland Kingdom Impact Dinner sponsored by Nehemiah Project International Ministries and held at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Also speaking briefly through a translator was Ivan Papish, founder and executive director of the Center for Success in Ukraine.

Led by co-founder Patrice Tsague, Nehemiah Project builds “Kingdom businesses” through a course called Biblical Enterpreneurship.  It also provides business coaching support and access to a network of global investors and is working in 16 nations.

Pickens’ company provides products for automotive, marine, and specialty flooring, but is also increasingly known for its faith-based values and for helping the local community.  It is dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations, community programs and ministries “through contributions of our time, products and profits.”   That includes service opportunities for its employees.

In recognition of his company’s approach to business, Tsague presented Pickens with Nehemiah’s annual Kingdom Business Award.

Through decades leading his company, Pickens explained, he has experienced times in his business that can be likened to seasons of life outlined in Scripture, primarily in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For example, there have been “times to weep,” including a $300,000 embezzlement the company suffered in the 1990s, or the historic 1996 Oregon flood that cause the banks of Johnson Creek to devastate his entire local inventory.

Similarly, he said, a “time to break down” occurred with the 2008 Great Recession, which forced liquidation of all the company’s assets, but miraculously God kept Corinthian out of bankruptcy. Instead, a new affiliation with another company and new financial strategies allowed a “time to be reborn.”

The years since then have been “a time to gain,” Pickens said, and today his business has no debt, is paying vendors in advance, shares bonuses with employees, and responds to community needs.

“The Lord has blessed us more than 10-fold in these (past) nine years,” Pickens said. He encouraged all in the audience to,prayerfully “embrace the seasons” of life and business but also take advantage of the wisdom and counsel of Christian consultants such as Nehemiah Project.

Papish spoke briefly about the benefits an overseas organization can gain through a close association with Tsague’s agency. He came to faith in Christ because of a crisis in his business, and felt called to establish a Ukrainian school for character development that has youth clubs, programs in orphanages and career counseling for teens. Biblical Enterpreneurship also has been presented in Ukraine, and now 2,500 people in eastern Europe, as well as Russian speakers in the U.S., have taken the training.

While in the Portland area, Papish toured five local faith-centered businesses. “It inspires me and gives me strength,” he said. “We will do even more than what we have done till now.”

Tsague said Nehemiah Project has raised $1.4 million for various business enterprises worldwide in only 18 months time. For more information, go to nehemiahproject.org