Can a Christian business leader walk the talk and still end up on top? Yes, says A. Ray Dalton, President of international medical equipment supplier PartsSource in Aurora, Ohio. If you stick to the plan – God’s plan – you can get ahead in the world. That is the story from Dalton, whose faith-based approach to the corporate jungle has taken him from x-ray technician to top spots in the medical equipment industry.
He has started and managed seven successful health care companies—three in Ohio—that have gone on to make $120 million or more.
Rising from street kid to become an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year, Dalton is also a Weatherhead Award winner who makes a humanitarian difference in the world.
He has also been able to navigate the minefields of corporate America and still hold fast to principles of Christian life.
Dalton spoke this month at Church on the Rise in Westlake, sharing his Christian approach to both living and business ethics at COR’s “Running with the Giants” monthly men’s breakfast series.
“The Bible,” said Dalton to an audience of about 100 guests, “Is reserved for those who know Him and accept His gift.
“AND – it is available to everyone!” By making use of that availability, you can find answers to questions that challenge you in life. And walking the talk is central to his success. “Everyone knows the Bible verses quoted in Ephesians 2:8 (“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works….”).
But, he adds, the message that follows in Ephesians 2:10 (“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works….”) is the rallying cry to walk the talk. Dalton began as a street kid in L.A. pumping gas and simply surviving. He started in life with plenty of “bad” and worked his way into lots of “good” by choosing a Christian path that isn’t always so easy on the surface. Today, PartsSource is a multi-million dollar company that ranks 179th nationally in the healthcare industry sector. PartsSource offers replacement part support for over 2,500 separate makes, models and modalities of hospital equipment in the market today.
His story begins when he walked into an Air Force recruiting station as a young man looking for an answer to poverty and street life. “You are a smart guy,” the recruiter told him. Dalton saw an opportunity. “I had never, ever had anyone say anything encouraging to me. I wasn’t stupid. I just wanted to be educated,” he said.
He parlayed his military service into a 52-month education that brought him five certifications in health care. Curiously, he was also assisted along that path by an older lady who got to know him and stayed on his case about church and developing faith.
She would ask him questions like, “Are you done doing it by yourself?”
The challenge led Dalton to Biblical insights that put a rough and tumble childhood that included neglect and beatings into perspective. By having his faith encouraged, he was brought to a life-changing realization from the Lord: “I have not done this to you. I have done this for you,” was the message.
Dalton began to realize something about tribulation: It toughened him to walk on a narrow path to success. The message: “The Lord plucked you out and prepared you in advance.”
The realization gave Dalton the strength he needed to make right decisions in the corporate world. Those decisions meant tough calls: losing a prestigious job for refusing to misrepresent billings, resisting unsavory business practices, and staying true to a Christian code.
“I will be bold in Your word!” That is the challenge Dalton took to heart as he refused to roll over to unethical corporate policy-makers. More than once, that commitment put Dalton in tough
spots. It cost him jobs, and it also put him in a place to understand his own weaknesses. “Everyone has lusts,” he said. “Money, greed, love, materialism. These are the important things we learn about ourselves – if something makes your vulnerability come into question again, just stay away from it! “My prayer is this,” he said: “Where I go, I will be strong.” The sharpening of his ethical senses brought Dalton to management leadership in several successful medical equipment companies, like National MD, OneSource, TRW and GE. Today, he heads PartsSource in Aurora. It is a medical equipment company with a ministry that recycles and places used medical devices for third world countries. PartsSource fills an incredible world-wide need for viable health equipment rotated out of upgraded American hospital service.
The opportunity fits Dalton’s mission of success through service perfectly. It is a business leadership mode that looks to serve the community and world through Christian principles. ‘God will reject me if I am just moving with a situation and waiting for something to happen to me. We are part of an army of men built to serve when service is required,” said Dalton. Dalton says his approach to life’s challenges is valid for anyone. Just look at it from a Biblical perspective. “What has God prepared you to do, through bad or good, and what are the things you can do to bring balance into your life?” asked Dalton.
For Dalton, that message holds true as time goes on and also influences his personal life. Sharing an anecdote about a time when he spent too many hours at work, his wife joking suggested that, ‘Someday you will come home and find out your wife is dating somebody else.’ I had to be prepared to be a better man, have better faith, be a better husband. When I figured that out, my career just rocketed,” said Dalton. His book, “Proceed with Confidence,” is a memoir of lessons learned by this serial entrepreneur. You can find it on line at www.proceedwithconfidence.com/books/pwcll.htm.
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