Tom Ferguson & AZZ

Tom Ferguson built a career at one company for over 25 years and became president of 2 out of 3 divisions with amazing financial results. He eventually decided it was time to retire. He sent out an email to his team, and after returning to his computer from lunch, he was shocked by the contents of the thousands of responses he began to receive... 6 months later, he had an opportunity to embrace those responses and live his whole life for Christ.

Are You Checking Your Faith at the Door?

I've been in a company 25 years, pretty much built my career there. Had, uh, become president of two of the three divisions and highly successful, outstanding financial results. I chose to retire partly for health reasons, partly because I'd built a great team and they were ready to take over. So I retired. Uh, but before I did, I sent out a note to my 11,000 employees and, and, uh, mostly by email and had lunch, came back up, opened it up, and was amazed. I had over a thousand responses, uh, and most of them started with: "Tom, so glad to know you're a Christian."

I knew a lot of these 11,000 people personally. Then I realized it, what a humbling experience. I had had no impact for the kingdom in my 25 years. That made me feel devastated. I'd made investors money. I made people money. But I had checked my faith at the door. I just sat there stunned.

And then my wife, wonderful woman, Maryanne, she just said, after about six months of me moping around, pretty much, I was working out, lost a lot of weight, and she pretty much told me one day, "Honey, we've been married 25 years, but we've only been together 10. Because I traveled all the time. You need to go find a job."

A Second Chance at Faithfulness

And a headhunter executive search firm contacted me and I'm like, okay, God, you're gonna gimme another opportunity. These people don't know what they're about to get. I am not checking my faith at the door. We are publicly traded. Uh, we abide by all laws and regulations. Uh, but I came in with not knowing how do you build a faith-based environment, uh, knowing that, yes, I'm going to tell, everybody will know I'm a Christian, and I'll have a Bible study in my boardroom. I didn't know what to do. You know, here I am, I'm open with my faith. I'm about to do a town hall here shortly. And the first thing I did when I came to, came on board at AZZ, I had a town hall. This time, I sent out an email telling him my testimony and making sure that, you know, you're not required to be a Christian to work here, but I am. And you can hold me accountable for it.

So God's present in, in everything we do from how we discipline people, how we develop people, how we talk to people, uh, and, and back to we're not perfect, but I see the change and I see God working in people's hearts. People that wouldn't even admitted they knew God, that there was a God. And so when I walked down the hall, yes, I'm a leader. We have a business. We need to generate returns for our shareholders, but even more importantly, we have to have a culture where people can love each other and care about each other and witness to each other. And we have that environment, not anything I would've dreamed of 10 years ago, you know, so, so as I just got on my knees, and Lord, this next step, lead me in the right way. Take me where you want me to go. I want to have an impact for the kingdom. And, and I always cared about people. I mean, I'm a friendly person. I, I like to engage with people. I enjoy being with people. Um, so that, that hasn't changed. What's changed is my heart towards people. I truly wanna serve them just as I wanna serve our investors and partners and all that. But, you know, servant leadership, I think a lot of people think that's a textbook. Yeah, let's be servant leaders. Well, for me, it's more a Jesus model, servant leadership. And here they can have those open conversations and they can question, you know, why do you believe these things? And we can defend our faith.

Caring for Your People Well

We use Pocket Testaments. And I've got my testimony in there and I tell people, it is my prayer for you that you come to know the Lord if you don't already know him. And I wasn't big on apologetics, but I'm like, well, okay, now that I'm open about my faith here at work, people are gonna ask me why. And they want some history, and they wanna know why do you believe what you believe? And, you know, so for me, that becomes, as much as I love growing the business and seeing us successful and making money for people, uh, and, and seeing 'em compensated well, it, it's as much about where have they grown in their heart? Are they a better person than they when they came here? And that's my reward, is seeing leaders that came in and were good at driving results, and now they have a heart towards their people when they talk about their people. It's not about what that person can do for 'em or what that person can do for the company. It's what are we doing with that person? We're now partnered with them.

For me, I just watch and see how God's working. And you see miracles, but it's not the miracles that change people's hearts. It's, it's as they see other believers in how they behave and how they care about their people and how they care about their teams and how they care about their communities. And that's where I see God just working in, in, in hard knows people, hard-nosed leaders. And I just see God's hand in how they've changed their behaviors. For me, primary responsibility, our best witness is how we live and work how people see us behave. That's our best witness.

I mean, I believe, and I, and I say this to people and sometimes they look at me funny. Uh, yeah, I really wanna spend eternity with you. I care that much about you.

Related Videos

Expo Home

Read More

The WHY of Your Business

Read More
Christ at work logo social image logo over a washed out image of two men praying together in the workplace

Evans Tool and Die

Read More

Related Videos


Watch videos of Christ at Work in businesses and in individual’s lives.
  • “Don’t withhold good from someone who deserves it when it is in your power to do so.”
    Proverbs 3:27

  • “Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.”
    Philippians 2:4