Looking East – Onno Weststrate
By 1999 it had become clearer to me that I needed to listen to the audible voice of our Lord and leave my current job and join Turbocam. It was clear that the mission statement of this new company was the very thing I was looking for in business:
– Honouring God
– Creating wealth for Employees
– Supporting Christian Service, for God and for people
In the summer of 1999 I spent 6 weeks in the US together with my family, to get to know the company and the people. It was a big change for me, moving from a busy service environment to one which presented new challenges every week to a more production-driven company. The change was big but the people were great to work with. We chose to stay with families rather than hotels and as a result, we began to understand this whole thing more as a family than a business. Company prayer meetings were held weekly during lunch times and for me, it was like stepping into a new world.
On our return to the Netherlands, I began to explore new markets and customers – something that I had always enjoyed doing – but I now felt far away from where I felt the action was and this took some getting used to. At that time Turbocam had factories in the US, the UK and one in India and it might have been more obvious for us as a family to move to one of these locations but our family situation made that impossible as we were fostering children (which we still do today) and so relocating was just not an option for us.
In 2000 I was asked to visit our company in India to see if I could help to explore new business opportunities for them. The factory is located in Margao -Goa and at that time it had about 15 members of staff. I had been to India once in the early ’90 s so it wasn’t entirely new to me – but still, India is a different world altogether!
Again, the welcome was very warm with great people and it felt like home from the very beginning. I was also very impressed by the fact that from the very start of Turbocam India, the company decided not to pay a single bribe in relation to their business. This was undoubtedly a real challenge for them, but they have succeeded in remaining committed to their statement of integrity. This first visit created a friendship with my new, Indian colleagues that continues to this day. I remember feeling very strongly that these new friends were the connections that God had planned for me. In the following years we partnered together in some exciting projects, producing parts at our plant in India for customers in Europe.
Looking back now, I can see that this was only the beginning of what was still to come, but the seed had been planted and the tree had started to grow. Around this same time, I started to get connected with a church in Accra, Ghana where I had supported the start-up of a small business that was providing income for workers and, through the gifts of these Christian workers, the local church was able to be blessed financially too.
What God had put in my heart years ago was now slowly becoming a reality.