When Abner Yoder opened a builder’s trade magazine in 1963 and saw a small advertisement for Gain Nail truss-building machines, the lives of millions of Christians worldwide, thousands of local residents and builders throughout northeast Ohio changed in unimaginable ways. Few of them had any idea what was happening.
Over a long life, Abner Yoder had three great loves: God. Family. Business. The order was important as was the way they intertwined. The marvelous truss machine he leased from Gain Nail Company cut the time it took to build trusses for a typical home from three days to one, a significant advantage for the local builders he served. He then used the money made from selling trusses to support his family, employees and a growing team of gospel missionaries around the world. Family. Employees. God. Customers. All were served by Abner during a long life. They have continued as the guideposts to success for the Stark Truss Company and Abner’s son, Stephen, who now leads the family enterprise.
Since the beginning Stark Truss has been on the leading edge of both the building business and gospel support. As a business Stark Truss has continually forged new innovations in building products, helping bring about a homebuilding revolution. To ensure a skilled workforce, the company developed “Truss Tech University” to train technicians who joined the company. When standardized truss sizes became a specialty of local lumberyards, Stark Truss found new market niches serving custom builders and architects by solving the toughest truss problems.
However, Abner Yoder’s greatest innovation may have been in the way he served God. When he was starting out in business in the early 1960s it was commonly thought that business and religion did not mix. However, the devout Abner became involved with the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship. It was here that Abner met Kenneth E. Hagin, and began following his ministry. He learned the pursuit of business success and God’s grace were not mutually exclusive endeavors. By pledging 10% of all profits to support missionaries around the world, the success of Stark Truss began. Company growth became a vehicle to spread the word of God as much as a way to build profits and employ more people.
Today Stark Truss stands as one of the most successful truss builders in the country with operations in ten states. Leading the company is Abner Yoder’s youngest son, Stephen, who shares his fathers vision of a growing company supporting missionaries around the world. Today, company profits support the work of 43 missionaries in countries ranging from Russia to Kenya to Australia and South America. Stephen’s other siblings remain involved, but it is Steve who closely matched his father’s vision for the growth of both company and missionary endeavors.
Closer to home Stephen has overseen a company where the environment for over 800 employees is the leading concern. Beyond the training programs developed by the company, there are the open paths upward that have led so many to journey from the shop floor to management positions.
However, before he could lead the company, Stephen, like his father before him, first had to embark on a journey from pride to humility. As Abner found, a business leader first has to break through the brick wall and learn to manage other people. The key is becoming a servant, and therein lies the secret to the success of the Stark Truss company. It exists to serve. God. Customers. Employees. Family.