The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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May 18, 2001 Issue
Local News

Businessman sees hope in religion and family values

John Bergstrom attributes success to his employees

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

Next Allouez

What: Claude Allouez Forum, open to the public.

When: 7:15 a.m. June 1 (make-up from Feb. 9).

Where: Bemis International Center, St. Norbert College.

Who: Bert Liebmann of Green Bay.

Topic: Glancing Ahead: Glimmers of Hope as an Attorney.

Cost: $8, includes breakfast.

Reservations: (920)437-7531 or (toll-free) 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8173.

DE PERE - Growing interest in religion and an increase in family values are two glimmers of hope a Fox Valley businessman says he sees in today's world.

At the May Claude Allouez Forum, John Bergstrom listed seven glimmers of hope he sees in business as chairman and CEO of Bergstrom Corp. of Neenah and as board member of five Fortune 500 companies and the Green Bay Packers.

Bergstrom attributed the success he and his brother, Dick, have had in business - including the nation's number one Saturn dealership - to their employees.

He told the forum, which is sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese and the St. Norbert College Theological Institute, that they have encouraged their employees to follow three basic principles: Do what is right and the company will stand with you; pay attention to the little things and the little ways to serve people; and treat people the way you want to be treated.

Bergstrom, a graduate of St. Margaret Mary School in Neenah and Marquette University, listed these glimmers of hope:

• Growing openness, respect and acceptance for people of all races, a development he thinks began in the churches, but really grew in the schools and is bringing significant benefits.

• More jobs for women, particularly in management, and the realization by business that women have a role and duty as mothers. Plus, he said, these jobs in management are earned, not given to comply with some rule.

• Growing interest in religion, including a willingness to talk about God. It's not necessarily an institutional religion with certain beliefs, but it always includes a personal relationship with God.

• Realization that global markets help everyone by providing good jobs and benefits to people in countries all around the world. Much of that stems from the end of communism and growth of democracy. It's also leading to an era of peace that mean wars will be settled quickly and we won't have a World War III.

• Growth in family values, including a decline in the divorce rate, a commitment to children and a realization in business that both parents need to go to games or on field trips.

• Increased involvement in volunteer activities and community service, particularly among young people.

• You owe something to the community and pay it by donating to charities and community service groups. Most businesses, he said, receive 5-20 calls a day asking for charitable donations. Bergstrom told how they were able to raise the funding to build a Boys and Girls Center in Appleton in five weeks. When he and his brother, Dick, were organizing efforts to build the new St. Mary's Central High School, he again found the community -- including non-Catholics -- more than willing to support the effort.

Bergstrom said his companies do $600-700 million a year in business and the money they spent on St. Mary's Central is the best money they've spent.

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