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Believers in Business: Getting to Know Local Christian Business People
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By Haydn Jensen


Rodney Lover and Lovers atWork Office Furniture

Believers in Business is a new Christian Life In London series for 2014. Our roving reporter, Haydn Jensen will be visiting Christian business people to talk about London, their faith and their businesses. In this first edition of Believers in Business Haydn sits down with Rodney Lover of Lovers atWork Office Furniture to discuss Rodney's priorities; honouring God, family, and community.

Rodney Lover is a big fan of small business-partly because it's in his blood, and partly because he knows what small business can do for communities. As Director of Sales and Marketing for Lover's atWork Office Furniture, Rodney loves to get out and meet people. Based in London at 200 Adelaide Street S., atWork provides office furniture and office design services as part of an Ontario-wide buying group of five locations.

It was Rodney's father, Dale Lover, who started the company in the early 1980's. After going through a challenging receivership of their family business in Tillsonburg, Dale saw a market interest in used office furniture and equipment as they sold their business assets. So, he started buying and selling assets of other businesses and “Lovers New & Used” was born. Healthy growth resulted in a move from Tillsonburg to London in 1983 and new furniture sales soon surpassed the used furniture side. They continued growing, changed their name to Lovers atWork Office Furniture, added a London manufacturing facility and now serve all of Southwestern Ontario as well as selling online across Canada. Between their London showroom and manufacturing locations, Lovers' employs around 55 people.

Reflecting back on how the family business shaped him and his own family, Rodney remembers as a young boy sitting with his sisters on the flowered living room couch while their dad told them with tears in his eyes that the family business was going into bankruptcy. Although Rodney did not know what that meant at the time, he could tell by the tears that it wasn't good. Rodney and his sisters knew they had a hard-working dad—they didn't get to see him very much because he often worked from 7:30 in the morning till 10 at night. Rodney recalls his own early contributions to the family business, working as a 7 year-old cashier and helping bag purchases for customers. Although the earlier family business did not survive, Rodney sees the blessing in how a new and fruitful family business grew out of those hard times.


Craig McKay long term atWork team members receiving his 25 year diamond ring
As atWork grew into what it is today, Rodney says he has found his stride in sales and marketing, making outside and online sales his focus for the past ten years.

He enjoys the creativity and challenging opportunities as he helps his customers set up suitable and affordable office systems. And yet, despite his passion for getting out there and meeting clients, Rodney also enjoys working with his own staff team. Part of that motivation is simply to use the organization to help people "be better".

Thinking about important life lessons learned so far, Rodney shares that he has learned to be selective with his time and focus on the best things. For him, the best things are honouring God, family, and community. Remembering his own father working such long hours, Rodney protects his own family time, even if it means missing other "good things" that are available. He's also learned from mistakes. For example, he's realized it's wrong to expect your kids to be just like you. In raising three kids together with his wife, Valerie, Rodney sees that their children are gifted with their own individual talents, just as he has different gifts from his own dad.

I asked Rodney how he sees God at work in the workplace. He answered, "God is all about relationships. These relationships at work are filled with opportunities and challenges for growth." Through helping to shape their organization's values and workplace culture, Rodney wants to see the team get “pulled to a higher level".

For example, One of atWork's company values is to give back to the community. Interestingly, Rodney and his dad decided years ago that they would not put much effort into tracking how they “gave back”. They felt this honoured Jesus' teaching about not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing, as found in Matthew 6:3. Rodney did say, though, that he has almost weekly opportunities to help churches and not-for-profit organizations with furnishings.

Thinking about the challenges facing our local economy, Rodney offered this perspective: "The world is changing", he says. “In every era there are people that step up and take the challenge of 'the new normal', whatever it might be at that time. We watched Tillsonburg become a ghost town for a time in early '80's where our business had been a regular part of life there. Things change and we have to change as well."

So, in every challenge there is opportunity for growth. Voicing some frustration with the idea that it's up to city politicians to fix the local economy, Rodney points out that they can't be expected to do it all. No surprise then, that Lovers atWork has been long time sponsors of the VentureLondon, the start-up business competition run by the London Small Business Centre (www.venturelondon.ca).

Through this involvement they actively contribute to the economic health of the London overall.

I'm thankful to have Rodney and his family in our city and faith community. I hope you are also encouraged. He and his family worship at West London Alliance Church.

For more information on Lovers atWork Office Funiture:
Website: www.atwork.ca/OfficeFurniture_London_Ontario
Facebook: www.facebook.com/atWork.office.furniture
Google+: plus.google.com/117560295626916889135/about






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