David Green insists God is the true owner of his $3 billion arts and crafts chain. Acting as His disciple, Green has become the largest evangelical benefactor in the world—with plans for unprecedented gifts once he’s in heaven.
Fresh off an inspection of Hobby Lobby’s sprawling 5.5 million-square-foot distribution warehouse in Oklahoma City, the company’s CEO, David Green, retreats to his office in the adjacent executive building, where he surrounds himself with a collection of homely elephant figurines. His coffee table is draped with a bird’s-eye-view photograph of his corporate campus, annotated with scribbles in black marker that show the expansion under way.
When I ask him to walk me through the secrets to his company’s growth, which the aerial plans represent, the 70-year-old, with a full head of white hair, blue eyes and a prominent square jaw, doesn’t take any personal credit. Nor does he laud his executives or his 22,000 employees or his customers, who will gobble up more than $3 billion worth of crafts products from him this year. “If you have anything or if I have anything, it’s because it’s been given to us by our Creator,” says Green, sweeping his hand over the acres laid out before him. “So I have learned to say, ‘Look, this is yours, God. It’s all yours. I’m going to give it to you.’ ”