Monday, June 6, 2011
An international company that develops, manufactures and sells GE brand products to customers across the globe is now offering something new to its employees: free tuition toward a degree at Mid-America Christian University.
Every one of the 278 employees at Jasco Products Company in Oklahoma City and throughout the U.S. is eligible to apply for free tuition toward an MACU undergraduate or graduate degree. Jasco has selected specific degrees relevant to its business, and employees may pursue those even if they are not directly related to their current jobs.
This offer is just one of the ways Jasco helps its employees improve the quality of their lives so they can have more opportunities to honor God.
Jasco is a quiet giant, thanks to the leadership of President Steve Trice and his focus on considering how Jesus Christ can be glorified in every aspect of the business.
Trice started the privately-held company in 1975. As an exclusive GE licensee, Jasco develops, markets and distributes GE branded consumer electronic accessories, computer accessories, home electric products, and home security/surveillance products. These products are sold in more than 87,000 stores internationally by mass merchants; electronic superstores; home improvement stores; food and drug retailers; military installations and direct marketers.
In 1991, Trice was a 43-year-old successful businessman who was struggling with personal frustration and depression. He was invited to a prayer breakfast in Oklahoma City where he heard the gospel in a fresh way from Bob Vernon, the assistant chief of police for Los Angeles County. Trice accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and became active in the sponsoring organization, Connecting Business Men to Christ.
Since then, he has been actively discipled by fellow Christian men, and he has been discipling men younger in the faith. His relationship with Jesus has inspired him to make his business a vehicle for ministering to everyone it touches.
Since 1996, Jasco has employed a chaplain who is available to counsel and advise interested employees. Bible studies, Christian-based parenting classes and personal financial management classes are also free to workers. Interested married couples can attend Christian weekend retreats to strengthen their marriages and the company picks up the tab.
Jasco also encourages generosity.
“We’ve connected with 16 different charitable organizations in Oklahoma City,” Trice said. “If our employees volunteer 30 hours of their time, we match that with $300 to the charity in the employee’s name. If they give their personal funds, we’ll match those funds up to $500. We’re doing all that we know to do internally to help a person grow with God and those other relationships in their life,” Trice said.
Trice speaks often in MACU business classes, and he delivered a 2009 commencement address to graduates. So he knew where he wanted to go when his team decided to add more opportunities for employees.
“Recently, we started saying, “What could we do to help our folks in their careers and in their relationships with the Lord?” Trice said. “That’s when we connected with Mid-America. They already had a new campus five minutes away from our facility, and we love the work they do. So we decided to pay full tuition for our people to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. The same curriculum is available on-line to our staff who lives in other parts of the U.S.
“One of our primary motivations in selecting MACU is its Christian Bible-based orientation and consequently its focus on ethics in all degree programs and curriculum. A huge problem throughout the business community is unethical behavior at all levels of an organization, and the consequences when administering agreements between organizations and clients. MACU has a proven history of effectively teaching biblically-based ethics to their students who, after graduation, demonstrate ethical behaviors and leadership in the marketplace.”
Trice realizes how countercultural his business approach seems to many people.
“For most of us, it’s about me and my pleasure,” Trice said. “We are trying to learn a different way. I spent half my life on one side of the cross, and now I’m living the second half on this side of the cross.
“I used to say, ‘People are our most important asset.’ In the back of my mind, I knew that we were leveraging people to make money for me and my family. Today, for me, it’s about helping people be all they can be, and that involves spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We sell to the world’s largest mass merchandisers in a hugely competitive environment. We work hard at building strong relationships with all of our vendors and customers around the world and our people internally so that one day we’ve earned the right to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“As I understand Jesus’ mission, it was to seek and save the lost and to teach them to live life to the fullest. Therefore, that needs to be my mission. I stumble and fall every day trying to do it, but that’s my desire.”