Build on lessons from Dan Hobson.

Dan and Ginny Hobson, as they celebrated 35 years in business.

On March 1, 2017, I lost my brother-in-law, my boss, and my friend. As the founder of Carpentree, Dan Hobson brought something new to the gift market that made a difference and created a new vision for how gifts could bless and inspire.

I have heard from many people who knew Dan and now are trying to overcome both a personal and professional loss. In thinking about this, I realized that we could learn some important lessons from his life. Dan would have been so happy to know that even one aspect of his time on Earth made a difference.


Each of us has gifts. In Dan’s case, his talent was to see things a little differently. He had a knack for finding resources in places that others might not look. In the early days of the company, Dan went curbside with a truck to pick up broken pallets intended for the trash. From these, he made the company’s earliest, innovative gifts.

This spirit of finding what was needed carried forward into every aspect of the business he and his wife, Ginny, created. In an industry that needs to find the next big thing, there are visionaries right now with God-given gifts who might need encouragement to find their “pallets in the trash” and make them into something that carries God’s Word forward in a new and fresh way.


Most leaders have had had to fire someone. Dan hated doing it, but his approach apparently made a difference in some people’s lives. Rather than pointing out why someone wasn’t working out, he gave the person ideas on what to do to best use his or her gifts and talents.

At Dan’s funeral, several people testified that Dan’s reframing of this potentially emotional and negative life event gave them a new path to follow. Some of them found success from what turned out to be prophetic words.

Reframing is a way to rethink the parameters of any situation. Finding what is good and positive in people should be a hallmark of Christians who want to make a difference in their communities.

Dan made people feel like they were part of his family. Many problems might be solved if we drew more people into our faith community, which is our God-given goal. To me, this means that as an industry we need to find new ways to reach out by looking at our communities and reframing problems with positive solutions that give people real hope.


Jordan Hobson learns at his father’s side, at CBA’s 1994 convention.

At one tradeshow, every light in the Carpentree display booth failed. Since lighting is critical to showing product, Dan found a solution. Unfortunately, it meant that the whole booth set-up team had to spend the night rewiring the lights.

Dan showed us by example that we needed to do whatever it took to get the job done. With little sleep, those of us who faced the sales floor found his example to be the inspiration we needed to power through the day. The result? We had one of the best tradeshows ever. A “whatever it takes” heart provides momentum to move people forward to do what they are called to do.

Each of us in Christian retail impacts lives in ways that aren’t always easy to see. We may never know how even the smallest things we do touch someone in a positive way. As we stay true to the vision God gives us, treat others as part of God’s family, and do whatever it takes, the difference our lives make will frame a legacy worthy to follow.

— Sherry Morris