Doing business by
the Golden Rule
Matt McPherson is
founder and CEO of Mathews Inc. and McPherson Guitars. Mathews
has become a premier producer of compound bows and is internationally
recognized in the archery world. McPherson Guitars creates high-end
acoustic instruments praised by a growing number of professional
musicians. But for McPherson, no professional accomplishment can
overshadow the priority of his relationship with Jesus Christ;
no corporate title can compare with simply being called “Dad.”
He spoke with Editor in Chief Hal Donaldson about what is truly
important in his life.
You have stated that your faith is the foundation for everything
you have accomplished. When did you give your heart to the Lord?
I was introduced to Christ at a very early age. My father was
an Assemblies of God minister. As far back as I can remember my
mom prayed the prayer of salvation with us. I was around 4 when
I accepted Christ as my Savior.
The success of Mathews Inc., your parent company, has been phenomenal.
How did you become involved in creating bows?
My father became an archer shortly after my parents were married
because my mom wasn’t comfortable with guns. Dad introduced
my brother, Randy, and me to bow hunting. Money was tight and
if you wanted something badly enough you made it. So I cut down
small saplings on my parents’ property and started building
bows very young. Dad ended up buying Randy and me 20-pound yellow
fiberglass Ben Pearson bows. Those were our first serious bows.
We got more involved in archery as we got into junior high and
high school. Randy and I talked to the shop teacher and asked
if we could manufacture bows. So we started making bows at that
EVANGEL: What about
I started playing acoustic guitar probably around 1975. Dad and
Randy were guitar players as well. Dad would buy a guitar and
handcraft some changes on it and listen to it. Around 1980 he
came up with a design that had three sound holes and he was pretty
pleased with that. He contacted me and said he felt this was a
guitar that needed to be produced. I had always wanted to build
guitars. So I got some books on how to build guitars and used
the new direction that Dad wanted to take and melded the old technology
with the new.
With two corporations and numerous other projects, how do you
manage to keep business, family and faith in balance?
It’s not easy, especially at first when you are starting
something out and there is a tremendous amount of effort to actually
get the momentum that you need to make a company successful. But
it’s like eating ice cream. I like ice cream; but if all
I eat is ice cream, I’m going to get sick. It’s the
same thing with the business world. If all I do is business, I’m
going to end up having a marriage that is not successful. My life
doesn’t revolve around my business. It revolves around,
first of all, my personal relationship with God, and second of
all, my wife and my family. There were definitely a lot of hours
to put in the first years of the company, but there was always
a way to set aside time for my family. Now, God has blessed and
I’m able to spend a lot more time with my wife and three
What about fathering principles? Are there any things that you
could share with other businessmen?
It is very important to a man that he provides for his family.
But my advice is, if you want to keep that in balance with relating
to your family, listen to your wife. Sherry would periodically
call and say, “Honey, I need you home.” And I would
say, “I’ve got to get this thing done.” And
she would say, “Honey, I need you home. You haven’t
spent enough time with the kids and I need you home.” And
I realized she was serious. I would put everything down and go
home. Husbands can get too focused. Wives look at the whole picture.
What are some principles that serve as a foundation for how you
The old saying “Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you” is by far the simplest and most practical form
of doing business that I can possibly imagine. When I do business
in a way that I would like to have somebody do business with me,
it is always a winner. When I’m going to market a product,
I look at it from the points of view of the retailers who sell
it and the consumers who buy it. If you give product value to
everybody involved in the process, including your company, it
is always successful. I’ve never seen it not successful.
My goal is to see everyone along the line get treated fairly.
What would you say to a person who claims that you can’t
get ahead in business if you limit yourself to biblical principles?
I’d say, first of all, if the industry you are in can only
succeed by being untruthful, you have to get a new career. I refuse
to lie. I remember a long time ago we had a problem with shipping
our product. I told our people to always be straight up with our
customers. If they called, we needed to admit we messed up on
this. We thought we could get it out but we weren’t able
to on time. I have found that when you are honest it may take
longer sometimes, but when you are done you don’t have a
house that is built upon sand. You have a house that is built
upon a rock.
I once had someone
tell me that a little dishonesty never hurt anybody and that I
would never get ahead unless I was willing to compromise. I told
that person, “If it is the last thing I do, I hope to prove
that wrong.” As far as I know, that person is still eking
out a living while God has wonderfully blessed our people. There
are a lot of people in the industry who know that if I tell them
something it doesn’t have to be on paper. And that’s
worth something in the business world.
Have there ever been times where you faced crises and you had
to rely entirely on God?
Many times, but here’s just one example. There was a new
model bow I had built one year. Throughout all the cycle testing
that I did, it held up and everything looked fine. But there was
an issue that came up in the actual production of this bow that
was a serious problem if I couldn’t fix it. “God,”
I prayed, “this could really hurt us if I can’t figure
out how to bring this to market. I can’t ship these bows
until I work this out, and we’ve got orders for them.”
God helped me find the solution the same day. It was amazing.
I was able to design the part that I needed and have it manufactured.
We proved that it worked and we were up and running within a week.
I was very fortunate.
EVANGEL: Is there
anything else that is on your heart that you want to add?
If your heart truly is to serve God and you are doing things with
integrity, then God will bless. I believe you will be able to
reach more people for Christ than you ever dreamed possible.
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