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Turn to Jesus (Article)

His Way at Work
Business leaders bring Christian values into their workplace, making concern for employees a top priority

In prayer at the Cancun Summit
In prayer at the Cancun Summit for His Way at Work

Business leader Peter Freissle of Polydeck Screen Corporation issues the following “Acid Test” challenge to others like himself: “Does the janitor in your company know and feel that you love him?”

Freissle then recounts a story about the effect of his company’s efforts to help its employees.  During a volunteer function where employees were serving meals at a homeless shelter (one of many such activities Polydeck encourages for its employees) Peter felt someone grab and hug his leg.  He looked down to see an 11-year-old boy, the son of an employee that had been helped through a substance abuse problem.  The boy said to Freissle, “Thanks for getting my dad back for us.”

While most businesses today measure success by their bottom line, there are some, like Polydeck, that define success a little differently.  This company is among a small but growing group that are taking the principles of the Christian faith into their workplaces and transforming the lives of their employees, as well as their own lives, in the process.

Freissle discussed what has happened in his life during an acceptance speech last fall when he received a Christian business leadership
Peter Freissle
Peter Freissle
award.  His company, which makes screen panels for coal, aggregate, and mining industries, came to the US, to Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1978.  Before this, he was in South Africa, where Freissle’s father started the business in 1959.  

He credits a terrifying experience that happened there that lead him to question the path of his life.  While in Johannesburg, two men “emptied machine guns” into the car in which he was riding.  He felt a bullet graze his shirt, and afterwards, he would ask God why his life was saved that day.  He came to believe that God saved his life for a purpose. 

“The fact that I am up here is not about me,” he said.  “It is about God’s love and transformation in my life.”

A practicing Catholic and happily married with four children, Freissle said things were going well at that time, but he felt something significant was missing.  He called it an “emptiness of heart.”

“I was a submarine Christian who would come up to the surface on Sunday morning, and the rest of the week, I would dive.”

Freissle heard about a local religious retreat offered by the Legionaries of Christ, and he decided to give it a try.  That retreat and the spiritual guidance he received from those priests would change his life.  During that silent retreat, he said, “God spoke to me like He had never spoken before.  I came out with my heart on fire for Christ.  I wanted to share it with the world.”

And he realized he didn’t have to move to India and become a missionary to do this. “I could do it in my own company.  My business became a platform for ministry,” he said.

One of the hallmarks of Polydeck today, he said, is that the company now values its employees as its “greatest attribute” and treats them that way. “When employees see unconditional caring and love, it touches their heart,” said Freissle. “It’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Freissle felt called to share what he learned beyond his own company, to start a ministry called His Way at Work.  The ministry helps business leaders transform their companies from secular to Christ-centered through the lives of their employees.  Since Freissle, and others with him, began the ministry, they have coached over 50 companies in the US and Mexico to bring Christian values into their workplace.

Companies like Martin Tighe’s Donnelly Communications Company in Atlanta.

Consistent Support for Existing Values

Tighe founded Donnelly Communications in 1981 and has served as its CEO for the past 32 years.  The company offers outsourced contact-center services.  He conceptualized the idea while in college and started a call center for national advertisers that offered toll-free phone numbers that are answered 24 hours a day.

Also a Catholic, Tighe said Donnelly was already on board with the idea of Christian stewardship when he encountered His Way at Work.

“A couple of years ago, under the leadership of our CEO, Dennis McMaster, we began a commitment of making our workplace echo God’s love,” he said. “We printed our faith and values on our web site, on posters placed in our offices and printed on business cards reflecting this commitment.”  (Click here for that list.)

Tighe met Fr. David Daly LC at an event and gave the priest his card.  Fr. David saw on that card the words “Faith and Stewardship.”

“When he saw that we are trying to promote God’s love within our business, he gave me a copy of the book, The Business Card,” said Tighe.

Since then, Tighe has met Alfonso Gonzalez (Founder and Chairman of Qualfon Corporation) a man he calls “a true servant of God,” and his coworker Roberto Sanchez Mejorada, who Tighe said was the “driver” behind Donnelly’s becoming involved in His Way at Work.    

“These men represent a brotherhood of those trying to bring God’s love deeper into their work places, led by priests and lay people who are all committed to the mission of His Way at Work.”

Tighe would first attend a His
St. Stanislaus Chapel
Donnelly also recently had a dedication ceremony for its new St. Stanislaus chapel.
Way at Work event in Atlanta, and then a summit in Cancun, Mexico.  Since then, the ministry has provided Donnelly with a “road-map” to implement what Tighe describes as “proven programs to make bringing faith into the workplace more than just the idea from the company leaders.” 

“The Summit in Cancun was more beneficial than anticipated,” said Tighe. “I was accompanied by Donnelly’s CEO, Dennis McMaster, who described the experience as ‘the best business conference’ he had ever attended.”

“Unlike other summits where the focus could be light on content and heavy on social activities, this summit was packed with inspiring speakers and an ecumenical group of priests and lay ministers speaking with one voice for Christ’s love in the work place.”

He and McMaster received guidance on how to alter their “culture from top management,” providing consistent support for the stated values of the company.  Friessle and his Polydeck team hosted Donnelly’s leadership team for site visits three different times.  And His Way at Work staff members like Scott Gajewsky helped give Donnelly management insights on how to best create its own program.  

Initially, the ministry brought in Corporate Chaplains of America to serve Donnelly’s 450 employees offering “care and compassion” for anyone needing spiritual support.  Tighe said thus far, 30% of employees have contacted the chaplains and 32% have had “care sessions” with the chaplain. Tighe anticipates the eventual outcome to be “significant.”  And the company has established a “Caring Committee” to meet each month to distribute funds to employees in need, as well as to their families and to the community.

Donnelly also recently had a dedication ceremony for its new St. Stanislaus chapel.  “It will provide a quiet place of prayer for our employees and visitors, immediately accessible from our company lobby,” said Tighe.

From Catholic Education to the Business World

His Way at Work has obviously inspired business leaders to bring Christ into their workplace.  But it has also inspired those already working “for Christ” to go into the business world -- people like Roberto Sanchez Mejorada.

“Our faith is a gift that we cannot keep to ourselves,” he said.

Sanchez Mejorada had been working in Communications for the Catholic university, Anahuac, in Mexico, for
His Way at Work
25 years.   But he is now the Chief Mission Officer for Qualfon. 

When he was presented the opportunity to join this organization, he felt it was his calling.

On a long flight to the Philippines, he would write a letter to his friends about his new job:

“Qualfon is a young, growing company that services North American companies. The majority of our team members are young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 looking for a dignified work-place where they can begin their career and prepare for their future.”

“My job consists in working alongside the entire team of directors to help us live in full the mission of the company.”

What is Qualfon’s mission, according to Sanchez Mejorada?  The company aims to generate “employment for the greatest number of individuals possible; taking care of those individuals; and offering support to the community, working together with the local organizations and to embrace these employees as part of their community, not only as workers, but as individuals searching for meaning in their lives and ultimately seeking God.”

Before leaving for the Philippines, Sanchez Mejorada visited the operation centers in US and shared the Qualfon mission: “We are part of a company that is committed to honor God through the way that we conduct business, so that with His grace, we may live the commandment of love through the service and care we provide for one another and by the excellent service that we offer to our clients.”

“Everyone, independent of their philosophical background, religion, or belief system, received this mission very well, because the first thing we are trying to do is treat everybody with dignity and respect and find the better way to help them in the situation they find themselves, whether they are single moms, young adults searching for a career or others who are suffering under special circumstances.”

“There are many things to do and to improve, but it is clear we are going in the direction required by the mission and values of the Qualfon family.”



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