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NETWORKING
I  G O O D   B U S I N E S S

 

"Do you know of a good mechanic?" We’ve all been asked that, and countless other questions concerning respectable dentists, builders, plumbers, doctors, etc. The typical answer is, "I don’t know of any, but wish I did." Instead, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pull out a complete directory of trustworthy businesses in your area and recommend one?

Joel Freeman, in 1980, finally got tired of saying he didn’t know and decided to do something about it. He helped form The Shepherd’s Guide, a comprehensive directory of values-centered businesses in his home city of Baltimore, Maryland.

Today, 3.5 million copies of The Shepherd’s Guide are distributed annually. More than 30,000 advertisers sign up each year to have their business represented in this directory, which is free for the taking and presently available in 125 different cities across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Over 125,000 congregations, non-profit organizations and private schools distribute The Shepherd’s Guide, not to mention 1,000 general market bookstores and 400 radio stations that offer or advertise the guide.

Not a Bad Idea

Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D., chaplain for the NBA Washington Bullets/Wizards (since 1979), was pastoring a congregation in Maryland when the idea for a values-centered business directory came to mind. He had been giving business referrals for years, but he was only one man and could only do so much. Joel felt it was an idea whose time had come, so he didn’t hesitate.

He met with one of the elders of his congregation, Doug Scheidt, in the spring of 1980 and proposed the idea. Doug, who had been selling insurance at the time, was excited about the possibilities. They tested the market with over 1,000 questionnaires, and the response was confirming: over 87% said they would be interested in doing business with someone who held similar Judeo-Christian morals and values.

Six weeks later, the initial thrust of the directory was under way. A few months later the premiere edition of The Shepherd’s Guide came off the press in Baltimore with 150 advertisers – and 30,000 copies were distributed the first year. The next year, Washington, DC was added to the list. From there the business has grown at leaps and bounds…

…Some 21 years later (under the dynamic leadership of TSG president/owner, Doug Scheidt), The Shepherd’s Guide now includes 250 full and part-time staff with a combined total of 70,000 directories printed each week…"   The Shepherd’s Guide is merely a tool to advertisers, who on average have 10 or fewer employees," says, Mr. Scheidt, "These business people are the ones who deserve the credit, since they are the ones making it happen."

(Dr. Freeman currently serves as mentor/chaplain to the entire Shepherd's Guide organization and is president of The Freeman Institute™.)

   

       -- by Brian Mast JULY/AUGUST 1998

 

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"Dealing  With  People  Who  Drive  You  Crazy!"®
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