J&J Business Owners Honored


Jim and Debbie Hannigan

2013 marks the 12th year the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is honoring Leading With Faith Award winners — men and women whose business practices reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church.

This year’s winners included J&J business owners Jim and Debbie Hannigan.

Nominations were solicited from throughout the archdiocese. Winners were selected in each of three categories: large business, small business and non-profit organizations.

The winners were honored at the annual Leading With Faith lunch Aug. 14 at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Archbishop John Nienstedt was scheduled to present the awards.

Q & A with Jim and Debbie Hannigan

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

From the time we started business, we have strived to share what we created with our employees by providing competitive wages and benefits. A number of times, we have given an employee a second or even a third chance when they have struggled with making a positive contribution to our success.

We continue to provide food to various charities and food shelves in the area.

Please tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference?

Our children have all worked in the business. Our oldest son, Christopher, was killed in a car accident 20 years ago. He was very gifted and the loss affected us a lot. After he died, we decided to establish a memorial scholarship fund in his name at St. Thomas Academy so that students who want to have a strong Catholic education, but struggle to finance it, can, with our help, have their dream fulfilled.

Who or what has been the most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

Both of us grew up in strong Catholic families and graduated from Catholic high schools. The nurturing environment fostered by the sisters and priests who taught us has guided us, as has the fact that we continue to be nourished by our faith community each week.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

Many immigrants, minorities and women have been given the opportunity to grow into leadership positions at J&J. They are dependable workers and very loyal to J&J.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

Our building is located in a part of St. Paul that struggles with many issues. We have made many improvements to the building and made it a nice place inside and out. We do not have a big fence around our lot, and yet have experienced very little damage to the premises and its equipment. In many ways, we are an oasis. Many low-income workers from the surrounding neighborhoods have found a home at J&J. In good times and bad, we believe God has been with us.

Age: Jim, 70, Debbie, 69
Company: J&J Distributing (fresh and dry produce distributors)
Title: President/CEO (Jim), COB (Debbie)
Parish: Assumption, St. Paul
Children: Stephanie, Kevin, Christopher (deceased)
Activities: Volunteer with Little Sisters of the Poor

*Photo by Dave Hrbacek, Article by The Catholic Spirit

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