David Madore says he built U.S. Digital — a $16 million-a-year, debt-free manufacturer of motion sensors — by following an owner’s manual better known by another name: the Holy Bible.
“The business has been blessed,” said Madore, who shared his quest for an understanding of God and pursuit of a life lived in accordance with biblical principles during a 40-minute address in front of 800 civic dignitaries, business leaders, police, firefighters and faith leaders Thursday morning that highlighted the Clark County Mayors’ and Civic Leaders’ 9th Annual Prayer Breakfast.
“Our labor is to be used by the Lord,” said Madore, 59.
A self-described inventor and problem-solver, Madore’s business got its start in 1980 after he designed a much-needed encoder for the Orange County, Calif., medical ultrasound company for which he was working.
He moved the business to Vancouver 10 years later. Since 2006, U.S. Digital has occupied the 118,000-square-foot former Nautilus building, which he’s renovated to create rent-free space for 30 faith-based nonprofits.
“There are such good people there,” Madore said of the organizations that occupy offices inside his company’s headquarters. “It has worked out really well.”
The breakfast, hosted this year by Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow, steered clear of politics despite its proximity to the Nov. 2 elections — and a keynote speaker in Madore who burst from obscurity in the past six months to galvanize a passionate and visible crusade to stop tolls and light rail on the proposed Columbia River Crossing. Madore was stumping against tolls last month when Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Harris began her now infamous “gavel down” outburst (Harris and Madore appeared Thursday to have a pleasant exchange while they waited for breakfast to be served).
During his address, Madore made no mention of tolls, focusing on his search for Jesus and success that he said spawned from the realization that God doesn’t reside on the other side of the galaxy. His parents, wife Donna, three children and a granddaughter attended the breakfast.
One of eight children, Madore explained Christianity, at its core, is about relationships. “He is present,” Madore said.
That realization became clear to Madore on a bus in Idaho Falls when he met a man named Mike who was reading the Bible. Until that point, Madore said, he thought the Bible belonged in churches and was somehow deprived of its holiness by being read on a bus.
Mike, Madore said, told him that the “author of this Bible is your author.” The man pointed Madore to the Gospel of John, which he bookmarked for attendees in free Bibles set atop tables in the back of the banquet hall.
The account of Jesus’ life contained in John made clear, Madore said, that Jesus “did live here. He died on the cross. He was here so He could relate to us on our wavelength.”
It was the relational God that led Madore to turn unused space in U.S. Digital’s building into rent-free offices.
“If the whole point is to love God, and love people, (then) we’re supposed to love people in tangible ways,” Madore said. “So we are.”
Several area pastors led prayers before and after breakfast. In addition to Madore, Aaron Auer, playing the part of Jason Lee, known as Oregon’s “Trailblazing Preaching Statesman,” energized the attendants by sharing how Lee helped open the Oregon territory to provisional government.
“Amen, Lord Jesus,” said Lee, played by Auer, as he held an approximately 3-by-1-foot Bible over his head.
The annual prayer breakfast has grown into one of the largest in the country, said Stewart Kent, the co-chairman of the organizing committee. He announced next year’s 10th annual prayer breakfast is scheduled for Oct. 27.
Madore, Kent said, is a “Superman of God.”
Madore, though, described himself as more a willing servant than caped hero. “If we represent Christ, in his heart, we’re ambassadors of Heaven,” Madore said.