Leadership, Management, Spiritual Growth

Pursuing holistic excellence to increase productivity

In a business world that prioritizes productivity, speed, and profits, Christians may feel like Monday through Friday belongs to the world while Sunday belongs to God. But Scripture beckons Christians toward a more holistic lifestyle. “Whatever you do,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “do it all to the glory of God.”

Christianity Today spoke to five C12 Members who want to do more than simply run another successful company. These leaders want their faith in Christ to be fully integrated into their business practices, influencing everything from production to employee relations, from hiring practices to strategic planning.

Here’s Joan Maxwell, CEO and co-owner of Regulator Marine.

Image: Photo by Alex Boerner

Joan Maxwell founded Regulator Marine with her husband, Owen, in 1988. Owen oversees design of their sportfishing boats; everything and everyone else reports to Joan. The first female chairperson of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Maxwell knows what it feels like to be in uncharted waters. She was the first person in her family to finish college, and she’s often the only woman in the room when it comes to her professional life. When it comes to Joan’s C12 group, however, she says, “when we enter that room, we aren’t male or female. We are God’s business leaders learning to run his companies better.”

It’s in this life-giving, nondiscriminatory context that Maxwell learned how to instill discipline and accountability throughout the company to execute her vision. In November 2019, she says, they began “a new chapter” in the way they run Regulator Marine: “to learn how to honor our commitments, hold productive meetings, and measure success,” Joan says. “We’re off on a new journey to grow God’s company in a way that brings glory to him and honors both the team he has given us and the wonderful customers who buy the boats we build.” For Joan, faith fuels a commitment to strategic execution and results.

Maxwell certainly notices the unique ways her gender intersects with her position. She said in a 2016 interview with Boating Industry that navigating her career has been difficult at times, “especially being not only a woman but also [the] wife of the person people perceive as ‘the owner.’” At this point, though, she’s simply not focused on the nuances of being a female CEO. “I had to learn to toughen up my skin and just do my job,” she told Boating Industry. “Today, I am so pleased to see the number of women in our industry—especially in the dealer networks.”

These luxury offerings are built in Edenton, North Carolina, where Regulator Marine’s commitment to quality serves employees and customers alike. “To ensure that our team stays focused on building very high-quality sport fishing boats,” Maxwell says, “it is important for them to work in the best environment possible. Regulator’s lamination facility has a state-of-the-art air handling unit to make conditions better for our team.”

In addition to caring for the Regulator Marine staff physically, Maxwell also wants to see their spiritual and emotional needs met. “We have a team called In His Service,” she explains. “This group of dedicated employees, led by our In His Service Coordinator Toni Gibbs, administers the company’s employee emergency assistance fund and its corporate giving. It also plans events for the rest of the factory.”

The Regulator Marine teams gather every morning to pray for one another, discuss the day’s work, and do some stretching. “Each day,” Maxwell says, “they review either the mission and vision or one of the core values. We aren’t perfect in our execution here, but we continue to stress that Regulator is different.” Several years ago, they decided to demonstrate their difference in part by placing Bibles in their boat owners’ kits. “I have been humbled by the owners who have come up to me at boat shows or sent emails thanking me for Regulator placing that Bible in the kit,” she says.

Whether ensuring quality working conditions, strategizing for next year’s fleet, attending an In His Service meeting, or pairing Bibles with boats, Maxwell captains Regulator Marine with grace and strength, come sunshine or storm.

*This profile originally appeared in the article “5 Companies Radically Shaped by the Faith of Their Owners” published here and in the May/June 2020 issue of Christianity Today.