Accomplished local entrepreneur Ron Price wears many hats. Along with running successful businesses, he is also an author and public speaker. (Courtesy photo)
By Gaye Bunderson
Over the course of his 70 years, Ron Price achieved successful white collar executive status, but he started out working for his dad in the blue collar occupation of truck tire treading. “I would go out and change semi-truck tires on the highway at night,” Price says, “and during the day we would put new rubber on tires.”
Initially he saw that work as insignificant and ‘just a paycheck’, but he’d change his mind about the tire business later down the road.
His teenage years were pivotal for Price in diverse ways.
“I actually went to college before I was 17,” he explains. “I went to Michigan State when I was 14 and 15 years old. I was in the theater program, and I really didn’t take anything other than theater classes. That’s all I was interested in.”
His theater classes offered him opportunities to travel. During the school year, the troupe would traverse the U.S.; in summer, they’d tour Europe. “It was in the civil rights time, so we performed a variety show that was really built around themes on civil rights,” Price states.
The businessman says that his teen theater classes were his only college training, but he attended what was then a different sort of business school common at the time. “Back when I went to business school, it was not at an institute of higher education. These were corporate business schools back then, so I went to Uniroyal’s Corporate University, where I learned things like reading financial statements and managing collections and sales and operations.”
Another crucial event in his teenage years was becoming a follower of Christ.
“We grew up going to church every week back in Lansing, Mich., where I’m from. When I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, our country was still a pretty biblically-based worldview country, so you would go to church on Sundays. You may not have that much of a real connection to God, but you believed in God and you sang the hymns and things like that, and so I did that,” Price states.
It may sound like a rather tepid start to faith, but it laid the foundation.
Price explains, “Through my teen years I started searching and looking at different things, and I studied the Baha’i faith. I thought I could find God through intellectual pursuit, and it was really when I recognized it’s a heart issue that I realized I really needed a Savior. I fundamentally could not overcome the problem of sin in my life.
“As a teenager, I really thought that I could be a good person. My ‘bible’ at the time was The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, who was a pop psychologist in the ’60s. I had friends who kept telling me that wasn’t going to be enough – that you really had to understand the nature of your relationship, or lack of relationship, with God.”
At age 17, Price got in his car and steered himself out of town and to a field. He estimates the date at around August 1, 1971. He took with him a Bible he’d gotten in third grade for memorizing a pair of Psalms, and he walked out into the middle of the field, sat down solo, and said to the Creator: “Okay God, I’m giving You a chance. If You exist, You can show up now.”
Perhaps he anticipated a whirling cloud and a deep bass voice calling, “I’m here, Ron. Thanks for coming.” But in fact what actually occurred was Price sitting for a minute or two and then being consumed by a cloud of hungry mosquitoes instead. He says with a touch of humor, “I’d heard of the devil and thought, ‘Oh that’s the devil, trying to keep me from meeting with God.’ Well, the devil won cuz I got bit by mosquitoes so much I ran back and got in the car.”
A reader might now think that the teenager returned to his vehicle, turned the key in the ignition, and hightailed it away from the field of insects. But thankfully, the young man was still set on making a connection with his Lord. “I got in the car and it’s the first time I remember praying out loud and having it be my prayer. I said, ‘God, I know You’re there, and I know I have no right to put any demands on You because I’m a sinner’ – and that was it. I drove away and I said to my friends later when I saw them, ‘You can leave me alone now because I gave God a chance and He didn’t show up, so you don’t have to bother’.”
His youthful coterie of companions, all of whom were believers, were having none of his cavalier dismissal of God, and they said to him, “Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute! Come with us!”
Price states, “They took me to a place and talked to me for a couple hours. I don’t remember a thing they said, but I’m sure they were reading from the Bible. And finally, one of them asked, ‘Ron, do you want to accept Jesus?’, and I said, ‘Yes’, because I thought, ‘Well, it can’t hurt, and I don’t know exactly what he means to ‘accept Jesus’, but if nothing else, I’ll get them off my back and they’ll leave me alone’.”
His friends led Price through the Sinner’s Prayer. By then, the time was somewhere near O-dark-hundred and the teenager didn’t get home until roughly 3 a.m. A disciplined person even then, he slept briefly and then got up at 7 a.m. to go to work. But getting up that morning was different from other mornings. Something changed.
“I got up, and it wasn’t a big emotional experience, but all of a sudden I cared about what God’s will was; and because I had a theater background, my friends, years later, confided in me that they thought I was acting – they thought it was all an act because I just did a 180. Nothing mattered but what God’s will was.”
It’s been the same for Price ever since.
“I’d made a commitment to the Lord on August 4, 1971, and of course I just gobbled the Scriptures up and got involved in Bible studies and prayer meetings.”
He also engaged in “street work,” committing full-time to helping gang members and drug addicts and prostitutes in Lansing. He did that for about four months until the work got shut down by an urban renewal project.
Also seeking work at the time, he ended up back at his father’s truck tire treading shop, eventually becoming a co-owner and building three more truck tire retread businesses with his dad, for a total of four (in Lansing, Detroit, Traverse City, and St. Louis, Michigan). His perspective changed and he no longer dismissed the work as trifling. “I began to see that work could be spiritual, and it had to do with how you serve your customers. It had to do with how you relate to your co-workers, and the commitment to doing your best.”
Price and his dad were partners in the business for about five years. During that time, Price was training for the lay ministry, and in 1977 he was ordained a lay pastor. In November of ’77, he sold his stock in the business and went into full-time church work. “I was doing administrative things and I was pastoring, counseling, speaking, and I was particularly interested in understanding people’s unique talent, what made them different; and I was also very interested in how you could help churches develop strategy.”
After nine years, Price became aware of a gnawing discontentment.
“I started to feel there was more that God wanted to do with me,” he states. “I was at a pastors’ conference in April of ’86 and I distinctly felt that God spoke in my heart, saying that I should pack my bags, it was time to go. That was shocking, and I spent a lot of time trying to break through and understand what that meant.
“I thought maybe I was going to plant a church, but I started to get invited to speak at events on health and taking care of yourself – exercise, diets, hydration, things like that. My wife and I had been studying that for a while.”
Price and his family (the Prices had five sons and a daughter) made a move from Michigan to Idaho, and the senior Price worked at AIM International in Nampa. The company makes and markets food concentrates and nutritional supplements. The year was 1989. Eventually, Price became president of the company and says of that job, “I felt that helping people be healthier was even more tied to doing something noble and spiritual.”
He also felt he had a passion for helping people develop their potential. In 2000, he left AIM; and in 2004, he started Price Associates, a company that “helps companies navigate challenges in culture, people, innovation, and leadership. … [Price Associates is] a global leadership performance firm that features the bright minds and innovative solutions of some of the world’s top consultants in organizational development, process management, branding/marketing, and more.” (From https://price-associates.com)
Price himself traveled to at least 15 countries and throughout the U.S. during his time with the business. At the end of 2021, he was asked to be the president of a psychometrics company in Scottsdale, Ariz. He then retired from Price Associates. The company still exists; his wife oversees the finances there, he provides advice to the business from time to time, and he remains a co-owner even though he no longer works there.
“I see this common thread all the way from re-treading truck tires to today because it’s very much aligned with my sense of what my purpose is on Earth, which is to first discover and pursue my own greatest potential and then to help other people do the same,” Price states.
“I was very fascinated with what makes people different and how you could draw that out to get a greater sense of both success and fulfillment. But I was also very interested in how organizations could be more successful. That’s what got me studying strategy, and I’ve studied strategy now for over 40 years. That eventually led me to studying executing strategy – how you actually make it happen. Those are the things I’ve always found a lot of joy in doing.”
He doesn’t see any of this as separate from his faith.
“I think that you find so many interesting things in the Scriptures that guide you and help you,” he says.
He’s been thrown a curveball in life from time to time.
“I’ve gone through some hard times,” he says. “I’ve gone through some situations where I was really disappointed in people. I went through one situation where I was defrauded of several million dollars, and it was very hard on our family. But I look back on it and I can see a design in it. I hope I never have to go through anything like that again, but we got through it and we learned a lot in the process.
“So I think happy is good, but I think that trials are a very important part of being successful. I mean, I look back now and I marvel. I didn’t plan my life out, but it’s very clear that there was a plan.”