Jonathan Butler (’93): Property management company owner
May 13, 2012
Some opportunities start small.
But, through hard work and perseverance, they can grow into great successes.
Just ask 1993 Evangel University alumnus Jonathan Butler, who, in 2004, began working 18 hours a day, six days a week in order to begin his own property management company.
For three years, Butler did the grunt work: hauling debris, cleaning and making repairs. But gradually, his business grew from a one-man operation to a staff of 17 full-time contractors and employees. And, by 2010, his gross sales grew to 10 times the amount of his first year of business.
As founder and managing partner of his own property management company and current doctoral student at Oklahoma State University, the Evangel Marketing major is following his dreams. Butler currently lives in Jenks, Oklahoma, with his wife and three daughters.
While his love for research and willingness to work hard have brought him far, he says it is the life lessons he learned and the connections he made at Evangel that have helped him reach where he is today.
“The entrepreneurial world is very high pressure,” he says. “The demands of clients, vendors, employees and even family members make it a pressure cooker that will eventually show what you’re made of. Because of the strong foundation I received from Evangel, I have not compromised my faith or beliefs to get ahead.”
Butler grew up living the life of a missionary kid. His parents moved to the Philippines when he was 5, and except for a few years spent in the United States on furlough, he was overseas from kindergarten to his high school graduation. He says he had dreams of attending an Ivy League college, but after much prayer, felt a strong sense that God wanted him to attend Evangel instead.
It was a decision that he says was instrumental in laying the foundation he still builds upon today.
“Even growing up in private Christian schools and in a missionary family, the Christian and biblical foundation Evangel provides was critical in shaping my beliefs and who I am as a Christian businessman,” Butler says.
Leadership and research opportunities at Evangel
During his first two years at Evangel, Butler played and toured with the concert band as first-chair saxophone. After switching his major to the Business Department, he became involved with Phi Beta Lambda, a student organization that provides opportunities to make a difference and to develop teamwork, leadership and communication skills through learning, practicing, and teaching the principles of free enterprise. While Butler was serving as the club’s public relations director, Evangel’s chapter grew into the largest PBL club in Missouri.
Butler eventually became the PBL state parliamentarian and, later, state president.
Illustrating how Evangel’s unique integration of faith and learning impacts future career choices, Butler says, “The two classes I took from him completely changed how I viewed myself, my walk with God and my understanding of the world.”
Butler says the activity that impacted him the most during his time at Evangel was a research project he completed for an accounting ethics contest. He recalls spending hours each week for six months looking through microfiche and strengthening his report.
All his research paid off when he won first place nationwide and was printed in a Prentice Hall accounting textbook. Butler says this project and his love for research are what made him decide to pursue his doctorate.
A successful business career that started with an Evangel connection
Butler’s connections with Bernie Dana, now chairman of the Business Department at Evangel, led to a job under Dana right after graduation as marketing and communication coordinator at Vetter Health Services.
“He put me through one of the longest interviews I’ve been through, but somehow I managed to get through it,” Butler says. “He offered me a position in February before I graduated – so two weeks after I walked the line, I started my new job.”
After five years, Butler was named marketing manager for Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Butler says he especially enjoyed the time he spent working directly with James Dobson to expand Dobson’s “Bringing up Boys” book into a video curriculum.
A connection with a friend in church eventually introduced Butler to the property development industry, and after working with his friend, he became inspired to start his own business from the ground up.
As Butler continues to run this business, he says his love for research has driven him to also work toward a doctorate in Business Administration with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship. In the future, Bulter says he would like to teach at a secular university.
“Aside from my passion for research, I feel strongly about helping college students through the formative undergraduate years,” he says. “A secular university will allow me to be missionary and hopefully open doors for me to speak into the lives of students; just the way so many of the faculty at Evangel spoke into my life.”
Butler encourages students to take advantage of the powerful experience Evangel has to offer.
“Evangel University offers a very unique curriculum that you cannot find at larger, secular, even Christian-by-name universities,” he says. “While some universities may offer ‘bigger’ or ‘better’ in some aspects, Evangel offers a one-of-a-kind perspective that will change your life – forever.”