The Business of Family

A Family Commitment to Generosity

For John M. Vander Haag, family is business, and business is family.

“It’s who we are,” says John. “You just don’t get away from it.”

John is the third-generation leader of Vander Haag’s, Inc., a family-owned truck parts business that his grandfather founded in 1939. Following the Korean War, John’s dad continued to grow the business alongside his wife, Ruth, and their three children. Today, John M. is president of the company that has eight locations and provides meaningful employment to more than 300 families.

“I remember riding with mom to work when my siblings and I spent summers there,” says John. “Not all days were roses – but I think the business connected our family in a very unique way.”

John recalls the emphasis his dad has always placed on hard work, excellence and honoring God with their business.

“From an early age, we knew our business was God’s,” says John. “We are God’s conduit to our customers and employees. Dad also made it clear that any blessings we receive from the business require us to respond.”

For years, John C. Jr. and Ruth have partnered with Barnabas Foundation to support Kingdom causes, giving from their business and other property, as well as through their estate. Now John M., together with his wife, Amy, carries forward the commitment to honor God in every facet of his life — including through his giving.

The Vander Haags are actively working with Barnabas Foundation to establish a comprehensive plan that achieves their personal and charitable goals.

“Barnabas Foundation has helped us support our favorite ministries in tax-wise ways, and also helps us think about the needs of our family and the future of our business,” says John. “We keep asking questions and having conversations. It’s not a once-and-done sort of deal. This is a process.”

John is guided by family values that have stood the test of time.

“It all goes back to what my parents taught me. Why am I in this position today with the business we have?” he asks. “It’s not so that I can make a bigger salary. What God has given is not ours; it’s His. Giving is an act of gratitude.”

“‘You can’t out-give the Lord,’” he continues, repeating a phrase he’s often heard from his father. “The more you give, the more He gives you. That’s been the story of our family.”