The best definition of prayer and faith is that we’re never alone. As a result you can have a personal relationship not only with God, but the Good News means the same confidence is possible right here on terra firma.
Ronny Ravkind, managing partner at Maintenance Metals, LLC, a master distributor based in Houston, has long since incorporated that attitude into how the company conducts business.
“Our relationships are interwoven among our customers, employees and vendors,” Ravkind says, “and it reinforces the reason we were put on this earth. With consistency and continuity, as well as relying on our faith not on our own abilities, we pray for wisdom and patience in whatever we do. We’ve been able to sustain and grow our relationships. We feel by utilizing God-given wisdom we have been able to foster relationships with our partners that have stood the test of time.”
Thanks to these steady relationships, the company has one goal in mind.
“We must be ready with inventory, have accessibility and offer concierge-type service so when customers call we can execute and further our goals,” he adds. “That frees us to do what we were put on this earth to do and that’s spread the word of hope and salvation.”
Ravkind says the company’s boutique level of customer service starts with a friendly voice on the phone and the concise way the company’s sales staff finds out what the customer needs.
“Our job is to make our customers look good,” Ravkind explains.
Information tied to purchases can be verified over the internet or phone 24/7, 365 days a year. Each salesperson emails tracking information when orders are shipped. And if customers need materials on New Year’s Eve or at 3 a.m., they know they have ready access to Maintenance Metals’ warehouse.
“Over the years, customers have come to know that our people and our products are accessible for their galvanized product requirements,” Ravkind adds. “Twenty-five years ago, if we had an order for 5,000 pieces of a high-density galvanized item, the wait time was between two to three weeks. Now, most orders are in stock.”
Strong faith like Ravkind’s may often come from adversity — the type that will leave you exhausted, at your wit’s end and feeling very much all by yourself. That was the case with Ravkind.
“For the first 15 years of the business, pride almost killed our company,” Ravkind admits. “Success in business can bring prosperity and other things that you’re not used to dealing with. That can go to your head. You get overconfident, take credit for a lot of things that your employees did and take credit for a lot of things that actually you and your employees had no control over.”
The business was doing so well, in fact, during those years that Ravkind didn’t even think he needed to be in the office much, and he got less and less involved in running the day-to-day details. By 2007, Ravkind admits he was getting less and less involved with everybody around him, too.
“I really had no faith at that point and my relationship with my wife and family was broken,” he says. “I would try to do something to make it right, but nothing really worked and I was constantly repeating history and never learning any lessons.”
That year, Ravkind was saved. “Up until that time nothing grounded me, so when I opened my calloused heart to receive Jesus as my redeemer, over time that changed me from the inside out,” he says.
Ravkind says the experience saved his marriage and helped re-establish relationships with my kids. “It saved my life,” he says. It also helped his relationships with everyone at work.
“Over time, I think they saw the change in me and that it ultimately got them working as partners with me and not just me telling them what to do,” Ravkind explains. “We all feel like we’re integrated into this company now — that accounting can’t do without sales, sales can't do without the warehouse. Whether it’s me, or anyone else, we all work together and we all need each other.”
More importantly, Ravkind has kept himself humbled by retaining that sense of brokenness he felt 10 years ago.
“I haven’t lost that perspective,” he says. “Being able to maintain the freshness of those feelings that I had when I was broken is an important thing so I never repeat the history of all kinds of bad things that I was doing.”
Because of mercy and grace, Ravkind says, God is a God of second and third chances.
“The people that we work with at our company have varied backgrounds and we all have been given second and third chances,” he adds. “We believe in treating people as you would want to be treated and to glorify God in everything we do. We feel that every one of our employees uses their talents, treasures and time to that end.”
A helping hand
Ravkind acknowledges the role of providence in his company’s success.
“We don’t pretend to know precise market sector predictions,” he explains, “but things have a way of working out for the good of our customers and our company.”
An average employee tenure of some 20 years, for example, helps the company literally stand the test of time that’s so important to Ravkind in order to provide the company’s level of customer care. He even has an employee with the last name of “Lamb” who handles the all-important MTRs for his product.
He also had a guiding hand right from the start whether he knew it at the time or not.
“I will never forget the opportunity a very special and talented family gave me with their steel service center business when I first graduated college,” Ravkind says. “Their caring and nurturing as friends and work family stay with me in my heart to this day.” Ravkind worked there for six years, then worked for a few more companies before, starting Maintenance Metals.
Regardless of unforeseen events, fluctuations in the price of oil, the housing bubble or environmental regulations, the company has thrived.
“We can’t take much credit for this because, once again, our success has been due to a diligent work ethic and provision,” he says. “The other thing is that I pray every day in the morning with my wife. We pray for wisdom, for patience, and for people that are in our hands.
“In 2014-2015, when the price of oil was tanking, as a master distributor, our customers started to rely more on us for inventory. That momentum and loyalty has continued to this day. We love our customers and we love our ability to stock specific inventory items necessary to enable them to get their orders.”
In the open
Ravkind certainly doesn’t hide his faith. There’s a cross on his home page and all his ads include Bible verses. Meanwhile, inside the company there are people with strong convictions like the machinist who pastors a local church. But there are also people of other faiths and people with not particularly strong faith.
“We all have pretty much the same issues we struggle with,” he says. “Having a community of faith reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles, that the past wrongs don’t have to define who we can become and that we can thrive in whatever we do.”
Also, Ravkind says he’s never gotten any flak for putting his beliefs front and center.
“We just want little inklings of God's love to shine through our advertisements,” he adds. “We’re not here to judge. We’re not here to tell you, ‘Hey, you better do this, you better do that.’ It’s been a beautiful, beautiful thing that we want to continue to do, and we feel like if we can glorify God and praise God, that’s what we’re to do. At the same time we don't want to turn off people to a ‘religious thought’ about our company. We’re just a bunch of people who are imperfect in this fallen world that just live day to day and have a faith, a personal relationship with our God. We hope that ultimately, other folks aspire to do that too.”