Christian businessman finds sweet success

If someone were to tell See's Candies Chief Executive Brad Kinstler that the path to riches was through Christian holidays, there would be no debate.

That's because his South San Francisco-based company makes the bulk of its annual revenue on Christmas and Easter, Kinstler said at the ninth annual Concordia University Faith and Business Forum on Thursday at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa hotel.

"In part, I can be troubled by the amount of profit made by Christian holidays," Kinstler said. "However, my goal is to not only see that it brings the recipient great joy, but I also hope that it brings an understanding to the recipient that something special happened on this day that was quite special. In some way, that is helping the evangelical mission."

The forum focused on the key tenets necessary for upholding theological morals while remaining competitive in business.

As long as business owners maintain high expectations in the areas of stewardship, the treatment of others and honesty, they will have a successful formula to outlast the competition, Kinstler said.

"I believe that all the little things we do each day come together as a consistent message of values for business," Kinstler said.

The forum kicked off with a performance by "Exalt," an a cappella group that is part of the Concordia University's performing arts outreach program and is comprised of Concordia students Spencer Blair, 22, Matthia Duryea, 19, Maggie Darby, 20, and Josh Bennett, 23.

While the group regularly performs at churches and community functions, the business forum was a first for the young singers.

"This is a really intriguing event for me because I want to open a small business one day," Darby said. "It might be challenging, but I believe that there are ways to be honorable and have integrity in business while remaining true to your values."

More than 400 people attended the Lutheran college campus' sold-out noontime event.

The event's overall message was all about balancing faith and business — something Charles Hartford, an advisor with Merrill Lynch in La Jolla, said is "only as difficult as you make it."

"I have clients from all different faiths and backgrounds," he said. "I am what I am and I will offer people excellent service no matter what their faith is."

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