Hobby Lobby CEO on his new book and the values that govern his business

David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, borrowed $600 in 1970 to start an enterprise that became the retail chain that now boasts 780 stores and more than $4 billion in sales. Green has a new book titled, “Giving It All Away...and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.”

The billionaire joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss the book as well as a controversial Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that religious business owners are not required to pay for certain contraceptives for female employees

Green said he hopes that the message of his life is about values. 

“Wealth is more than just about money,” Green said. “It’s about values so we want to make sure our family carries down values, and that’s why we’ve actually come up with a hard copy of who and what we are as a family, the Green family.” 

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David Green

CBS News

Part of that value system disagrees with providing certain types of contraceptives -- ones that stop a pregnancy after conception --to Hobby Lobby’s 35,000 employees. Green pointed out that the company does, however, make 16 other types of contraceptives available.

“It’s really not the government’s right to interfere with my conscience, and so as employers, or as owners, my wife and I that started this business, the government shouldn’t be imposing restrictions on us that would cost us as much as $1.3 million a day if we didn’t follow what they would ask us to do,” Green said.  

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Hobby Lobby pays its full-time employees $15.70, which is more than twice the U.S. minimum wage. When asked how he’d react if the government enacted legislation mandating that minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour, Green said that he doesn’t think that would be fair and it “needs to be up to the businesses.”

Green also said that “work is not a curse.”

“It is our calling,” he said. “We should be able to keep working as long as we’re able.”

“We feel like that God owns our business and that we’re only stewards, and so our job is to do the very best we can for our employees. That’s why we’re only open 66 hours. We think that family is important,” Green said.

“We have values that we don’t want to cross,” Green said.   

On whether he considers himself a libertarian, Green said, “Possibly. To some extent.” He continued: “Without any question, certainly when it comes to religious liberties. I think they need to give us a little more rope in that area.”

As far as business goes, Green said, “Our sales have been up every year, same stores, for probably 15 years.”