The Legacy of Andy Horner
I never really knew Andy Horner. And yet I feel like I knew him really well.
Sure, I met Andy a few times while I had the privilege of working at the Home Office for Premier Designs. He would occasionally stroll through the office while I was there. I also got to meet him at our Rally events. But he was in his 90s then, and his dementia had set in enough to know that, while I was getting to meet the man, he wasn’t exactly the man that I had heard so many talk about.
But that’s OK, because his legacy was apparent to me throughout my life. And while I know so many of you reading this knew him much better than I did, Andy Horner has still made an amazing impact on my life. I want to celebrate and honor that in this article.
Andy passed away recently, at the age of 98. I was able to watch his funeral service online, and it was truly inspiring. Of course, anything Andy is celebrated for includes his wife, Joan, but I’m going to refer to just Andy for most of this article in the spirit of celebrating his life.
Who Was Andy?
Andy referred to himself as a Chief Servant Officer, and there’s really no better description you could have for him after listening to countless friends and family tell stories of how he answered time and time again to respond to God’s call. Stories about giving to so many different churches and ministries when they didn’t know how they were going to make it. Stories of giving to missionaries all across the globe. Stories of giving to schools and universities to open programs and opportunities.
Most importantly, stories of giving time, attention, and, yes, money, to people, thousands of people, in a way that made them feel special and want to become more.
And on the extremely long list of impact of the Horners, you will also find DVTD. Because if there was no Andy Horner, there would be no DVTD.
How Andy Impacted My (Brett’s) Life
For me personally, Andy and Joan Horner were making a difference in my life starting as far back as 1995, even though I was completely unaware of it. I was a student at Dallas Baptist University, a baseball player. There was a dorm there called Crowley Hall, and an annual Mary Crowley day on campus, honoring the contributions of Ms. Crowley to the survival of DBU. Her right hand for so many years was Andy Horner, at Home Interiors. And his and Joan’s experiences there certainly had a huge influence on the creation of Premier Designs.
The baseball field at DBU today is called Joan and Andy Horner ballpark. It’s a beautiful stadium. It’s not the field I got to play on, but it did give me a reason to introduce myself to their son, Tim, once in 2015 at a DSA event. I was a consultant to direct selling companies, at a DSA board meeting. As we talked about DBU baseball, Tim ended our conversation by asking me to stop by the office and see if there was anything I could help Premier Designs with.
DVTD Was Born
Over the next few years, I helped with small projects here and there. Eventually, Tim asked me to take on a bigger role and a bigger challenge with Premier Designs, trying to evolve and, in many ways, reinvent the company. I fell in love with Premier Designs. I actually used to say I “was smitten” with Premier. While there are all kinds of stories and lessons I could share from that, I’ll save that for another time. What is relevant here is that the fundamental question of “what should Premier Designs look like now?” is what directly led to the creation of DVTD.
With that question set as the centerpiece of many discussions, we began to dig deep into why Andy and Joan started Premier to begin with. Fortunately, it’s a story that was so familiar to those in the Premier family, because Andy and Joan (and everyone else!) did such a great job telling it as much as possible. They didn’t start Premier because they loved jewelry. They didn’t start it because they loved direct selling (quite the opposite, actually!). And they didn’t even start it to have a business (they thought they were supposed to become missionaries).
They started Premier Designs to honor and glorify God, and to serve others. They were encouraged to become “Entrepreneurs for Jesus.” They had a heart for single mothers and ministers’ wives, and they wanted to support missionaries and ministries that they knew could make an impact for the Kingdom. And they wanted to create a company that was built on biblical principles.
Today, we would call that a “social entrepreneur.” But in 1985, no one really knew what to call it. Andy and Joan were very ahead of their time.
As we sat and talked about what could be for Premier Designs, we went back to the core reasons Andy and Joan thought about it to begin with, and worked our way out from there. The a-ha moment came when God showed us that we could now become a marketplace where all kinds of social enterprises could be featured and come together and collectively increase our impact. We could become a platform for founders with a similar heart and purpose.
Again, many of you reading this know the Andy Horner story so much better than I do. And you also know that Premier Designs decided to close its doors at the end of 2020. That’s certainly never what I wanted to see happen, and I definitely miss it. To say it was a special place is an extreme understatement.
Andy’s Impact Doesn’t End
But the point of this post isn’t to talk about DVTD, or Premier, but rather the legacy of Andy Horner. I can think of no better example of what the word “legacy” means than to simply point to the life of Andy Horner. Because of his obedience to God, his impact doesn’t end even though his life on this earth has.
This legacy has certainly impacted my life. For three years, as a member of the Premier Designs Home Office team, I got to witness and understand what it truly means to build a company on biblical principles. It’s a concept, and a calling, I couldn’t shake. I have no idea what the future holds for DVTD. We are a fraction of the size and impact of Premier Designs, and that may may always be the case, but who knows what could happen …. ? And to be honest, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s not really up to me to figure all of that out, anyway.
Here’s what I do know: DVTD is a byproduct of the obedience and example set forth by Andy and Joan Horner. It wasn’t their skill or strategic vision or even hard work that led to the success we find ourselves celebrating today in Andy’s life. It’s simply their obedience. And through them, God showed us what’s possible when we simply let Him lead the way.
To God Be the Glory. And thanks for giving us the example of Andy Horner.
— Brett Duncan, Owner and President of DVTD