Ed and Dana Trim | Not Ashamed of the Gospel

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by Marilyn Tinnin

Strange Beginnings

It was a robbery that set into motion an unexpected business opportunity for Ed Trim. The owner of Pennington and Trim Alarm Services thinks it was by “Divine Appointment” that as a young man working for another security company he was assigned to install an alarm system in Mr. and Mrs. Norman Pennington’s South Jackson home following a burglary in 1987. Ed completed his work and took a few extra minutes to demonstrate the new system to Norman. “Mr. Pennington just took a liking to me,” he says.

Security systems, especially residential ones, were not as commonplace as they are today. The industry was barely getting cranked up here in Mississippi, but Pennington, who was the General Manager of Borden Milk at the time, was intrigued by the future prospect of the industry and impressed with this young man’s knowledge and genuine concern for his customer. He told Ed, “If you’d ever be interested in starting your own business, I would be interested in talking to you.”  He was looking for both an investment and something his wife could do part time.

Ed took him at his word. At the time, he was making eight dollars an hour, working 80 hours a week but only getting paid for 40. He was on call 28 out of every 30 days and needless to say, he was quite unhappy. The thought of working for himself rather than someone else resonated in his very heart and soul! He spent the next few evenings with a yellow legal pad writing down everything he could possibly think he would need to start that company. He presented his rough plan to his potential partner asking for 10,000 dollars.

Within a few days, Pennington called him back and said, “Ok. Here are my conditions. One, you are not my partner yet. You are my employee. When you give me back my ten grand, then we’re fifty/fifty. The second condition is this is all you are getting. This is the only investment I am going to make so you better make it with this.”

Ed Trim was many things, but lazy was not one of them. His dream of owning his own business was closer than it had ever been and he poured himself into being sure it came to fruition. Twelve hour days, six day workweeks…if this is what it took, then he was 100% into it. His job was to knock on doors and sell the systems as well as do the actual installations. The only other person involved in the day to day operations was Virginia Pennington, who kept the books and paid the bills from her home. There was no storefront. Inventory was kept in a small storage room at Ed and Dana’s house.

Pennington and Trim began to grow in no time at all. Within the first twelve months, Ed had paid back the ten thousand and he was half-owner in the business. The customer base continued to expand and Virginia found herself far more involved than she had intended. After Ed and Dana’s first son was born, Dana left her full-time day job as a secretary with a downtown insurance company to become the part-time secretary and relieve Virginia of some of the overwhelming paper work. Ed was still the man who did all the selling and all the installation until 1989 when they hired the first technician.

Today Pennington and Trim has 22 employees on the payroll, 12,000 customers in the metro area, and has become one of the largest security companies in central Mississippi.

In 1998, the Trims bought out the Pennington’s. Ed and Dana became fifty/fifty share holders in their own company.

“We’ve been blessed,” says Ed.

Call to Missions

From the beginning, Ed did not view his business as an end in itself. He orders his entire life around being a good steward of every blessing. Therefore, the business is not just a separate compartment that allows him to feed his family. For Ed and Dana it is the means by which they support missions and help spread the gospel. There are no flashy cars in the driveway, no elaborate homes or expensive clothes and jewelry announcing God’s blessing on this couple. Their monetary blessings simply provide daily opportunities to care about those they serve. As Dana says, “Ed is always looking for a way to be ‘salt and light’ to everyone he meets.”

Ed and Dana took a mission trip to Bungoma, Kenya in 2004. That was a defining moment in their faith journey. They were hooked. Since then, they go at least once a year on a foreign mission trip – frequently back to Bungoma where Pastor Justus Ochuro has a Bible School training the African people to be pastors and plant churches. There is no electricity, no running water, so much poverty and so many who are hungry for the word of God. Ed and Dana frequently teach together and have derived much satisfaction from seeing the people receive the word with such joy.

In 2009 God impressed on Ed’s heart the idea of raising money to actually build the physical building for a new congregation in Kenya. Ed just began sharing with people the vision God had put on his heart and he was able to present this little fledgling group of Believers 15,000 dollars, enough to cover buying a plot of land and building their church building. They were also able to buy 50 new mattresses for the Bible School students and enough food to stock the Bible School pantry for an entire year.

As the couple began to regularly take weeks off at a time for their mission trips, friends frequently asked how they managed to walk off and leave their business. “God just kept sending us good people who made it possible,” Ed says. One day it occurred to Dana and Ed that it would please God if they gave time to mission projects right here in their community and wouldn’t it be a great team-builder to involve these good people who worked with them right here?

“Each quarter we let a different employee choose a place they want to go to give our time and money in support,” Dana says. “It has been really neat. We’ve done Ronald McDonald House, Catholic Charities, Animal Rescue League, Stewpot, Healing Touch Ministries and more.”

Those days begin with an inspirational speaker and breakfast together, followed by several hours of mission work, lunch together, and a time of team competitions with silly games and prizes. The winning team also gets bonus time off! Ed and Dana laugh as they describe some hilarious adventures.

They have found these projects to be such a blessing as well as the opportunity for them to show their “team” how valued and appreciated they are.

Story Behind the Story

Josh & Matthew, Trim sons

Ed grew up in South Jackson attended neighborhood public schools and graduated from Jim Hill High School in 1981. Although money was always tight and college was not really an option, Ed’s mother’s faith was great, and she put a high priority on raising her children to know the Lord. “I don’t remember a time when I did not have a relationship with Jesus,” Ed says. But like many of us, there were seasons when he was running in another direction sowing a few wild oats. Even then, he knew that everything his mother had taught him about God was true. He just procrastinated surrendering his will and his plans to God’s will and God’s terms for living life.

Dana’s dad was a career naval officer who had raised his family all over the country. They landed in Jackson just about the time Dana began her first year of college at Hinds in 1983. Her mother was a devout Roman Catholic and Dana considered herself to be the same. Prayer was the bedrock of her faith, but she did not know a lot about words like “grace” or “salvation,” and she had never spent a great deal of time in scripture. In fact when Ed asked her one day if she was “saved,” she replied, “From what?”

Dana was an eager student of faith, however. She has a soothing presence about her; she is a good listener; and she was willing to try out some of the core principles that seemed to be so important to Ed. For instance, in 1986 they were newlyweds living in what they describe as a “dumpy little apartment” where mice and roaches were not uncommon. They were barely making ends meet when Ed said, “We need to tithe. The Bible says we are supposed to give the first ten per cent of all we earn to God.”

Dana was handling the checkbook, and although tithing was a foreign concept that made no sense to her, she agreed to give it a try. They never went hungry and somehow they managed month after month to pay their bills. She began to see the reality of God’s faithfulness. God’s “loaf and fish principle of multiplication” was demonstrated to her over and over again as their income seemed to stretch enough to get them through month after month. They were finally able to leave the dingy little apartment behind and move into a modest home. Dana was growing daily in her relationship with Christ. The more she read the Bible and prayed, the more treasures she discovered there and the more she wanted to read and wanted to understand… In fact, one evening while Ed was working, Dana flipped on the television and found Pat Robertson explaining how one could be sure they were going to heaven. She listened intently and when the invitation was given at the close of the broadcast, she bowed her head and prayed as instructed.

God was working on Ed as well, taking the “head” knowledge he had and turning it into “heart” knowledge. However, he had a few areas of life he simply was not ready to relinquish.

On the evening of Ed’s thirtieth birthday he attended a Jackson Homebuilders Association meeting. Some of his friends insisted they take him out for drinks and a birthday celebration afterward. One stop turned into another stop and then another stop, and by the time he started home, it was past midnight and the alcohol hit him immediately. Somehow, by the sheer grace of God he got home without hurting himself or anyone else. He vowed that he would never touch alcohol again, and he hasn’t.

But with that vow, he also went forward the very next Sunday to rededicate his life to Christ, to ask God to help him keep that promise to live for Him. Something caught fire in his heart that day. Though the fire has never diminished, testing was close at hand.

Heartbreak

Tragedy struck within the month. Their baby girl, one year-old Nicole woke up one Friday morning vomiting uncontrollably. Mid-afternoon Dana called Ed from the pediatrician’s office telling him to come to the hospital because they were going to run some tests. A cat scan revealed five brain tumors. A biopsy proved them not only malignant but inoperable. Day after day the doctors worked on their baby trying radiation and one thing after another. Every day, despite the prayers of so many, Nicole spiraled down farther, and on the ninth day she passed away.

The Trims’ life had turned upside down overnight. They were devastated. Ed says, “If I had to pick a day that changed my life I would say that day.”

All the promises and all the scripture and all the blessings they had been experiencing in their marriage, in their business, in their family…how did they make sense of  something so hard as losing a child? They clung to God knowing that even in their brokenness, God was still God, and His plans are ultimately for good in the lives of believers. But they needed to find the strong comfort of the Heavenly Father in a deep and personal way if they were ever to heal.

Ed suggested they seek out a church like the church he had attended with his mother as a child. He wanted to be comforted by the Word of God.

Several weeks earlier Ed had installed a security system in the home of Pastor Ronnie Sims of Word of Life Church. He did not know a lot about him or his church but he knew he knew how to pray. Ed had reached out and called Pastor Sims during Nicole’s illness. There was such an outpouring of concern from Sims and his congregation that the Trims decided to visit the church.

It was there healing began and the couple could get past the “Why Nicole?”

It was there another spiritual growth spurt moved Ed and Dana to a new level in their faith journey. Ed compares his relationship with Christ to the building of a house. “My mother laid the foundation. Pastor Ronnie built the four walls, and his son Pastor Joel Sims is putting the shingles on it.”

This big burly man with a big heart for God and others quotes scripture like a seminary professor and reiterates that he believes scripture is indeed the inspired word of God and the instruction book for successful living. He has remained steady in his commitment to tithe in lean times and fat times alike, and he has a storehouse of personal stories on amazing ways God has provided over and above their wildest dreams in the worst of times.

Ed and Dana are a breath of fresh air. They bring to my mind the perfect illustration of Christ’s “salt” and “light” analogies. Authentic people of faith who are willing to live somewhat counter culturally in today’s Post-Christian environment stand out from the crowd, and who doesn’t notice? The Bible refers to King David as “a man after God’s own heart.” Well, that being true, me-thinks  Ed and Dana just might be close ‘kin-folk!’