Talking about faith in the workplace

Talking about faith in the workplace
Jeff Morris owner of Morris Graphics, a family-run printing company in Woodbury, is pictured with his wife Theresa and son Michael, who work with him.

Jeff Morris owner of Morris Graphics, a family-run printing company in Woodbury, is pictured with his wife Theresa and son Michael, who work with him.

Jeff Morris of Holy Family Parish, Sewell, is founder and owner of Morris Graphics, a family-run printing company in Woodbury. He is also secretary for the Diocesan Catholic Business Network, a group of Catholic businessmen and women who gather monthly to talk about the intersection of faith and business, and network with other like-minded professionals.

The Catholic Business Network holds meetings the second Friday morning of every month from 7:30-9 a.m. at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill. Each meeting includes breakfast and a speaker presentation. The next meeting is May 8.

Q: What did you do before you started your own business?

I used to be an estimating manager for Rand McNally [publishing company]. It was a big change, shifting to owning my own small business. I used to order millions of pounds of paper at a time, then I bought this little printing company and now I order hundreds of pounds of paper at a time.

Like any small business, there have definitely been ups and downs. Back in the 80s and early 90s we were a bigger company than we are now. We’ve had to make some adjustments since the recession. The printing business in general is going through a lot of change since the internet. But we’ve made adjustments and things are going well.

Q: You’re also a family-run business.

Yes, my wife and son work here. I like it a lot. I married her because I wanted to be around her!

My wife is the bookkeeper and takes care of orders. My son just came on last year. I think probably one of the reasons we grew so much last year is because he took over some of the things I was doing, so it gives me more time to get out and meet clients and meet new prospects.

Q: Why do you think there’s shyness in the corporate world about being known to be a person of faith?

Because there’s so much political correctness these days, you’re worried about offending somebody that’s not of your faith. The funny thing about it is I’ve never found that people of other faiths are offended. They don’t have a problem with me celebrating Christmas or Easter, just as I wouldn’t have a problem with them celebrating their holidays. I’m not shy about telling people that I’m Catholic. I believe in the faith and follow it and I respect the right of others to do the same.

At the same time, I think that constantly talking your faith in a business environment is not necessarily a good thing. People don’t want to be preached to by a business associate. But it comes through in the way that you live: by treating people fairly, by being honest, by not cheating people.

For me a nice way to balance it is being involved in an organization like the Catholic Business Network. I don’t have a problem telling people about the Catholic Business Network because in addition to meeting other Catholics it’s also a business function.

Q: What are those meetings like? What do they have to offer business people of faith?

Most people are a little shy about talking about their faith. But in this setting, you can openly talk about your faith at a “business meeting” because that’s sort of the purpose of it. We usually say a prayer before we have breakfast and have a speaker talk about some things going on in the church.

I see those meetings as a viable business opportunity. Everybody goes around the room and mentions what their business is so we all get to know each other. We have a place for members to put their brochures and literature. I think that helps foster doing business together.

Q: Why is community service a part of your professional identity?

I was sort of brought up that way, to help others. When they asked me to be on the board of the Boys and Girls Club I wasn’t sure about it because I had a lot of other things going on. But I walked into the clubhouse and saw all these kids and it was just heartwarming. I almost couldn’t say no.

I’m involved with my church, I’m a Eucharistic minister, and I always try to help out when they have different drives. I’m on the committee now planning the Justice for All dinner, which benefits Catholic Charities in the diocese. I see service as living out my faith.

Q: How do you feel that your Catholic faith informs your business decisions?

It’s in simple ways that make a big difference in the long term. I think it comes across in me being open and honest with my clients and with my vendors. You treat everybody fairly, as you would want to be treated, and you never lie to customers, you never lie to vendors, you never lie to employees. You’re always honest with everybody.

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