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‘I will never forget what my first truck cost me, a great step of faith’

A Spanish Christian trucker and entrepreneur shares about how his Christian faith impacted over 40 years of work experience.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 16/Daniel_Hofkamp,5/Evangelical_Focus A CORUÑA 24 DE FEBRERO DE 2023 16:11 h
José Manuel, on a recent visit to Jerusalem, Israel.

Four decades on the road go for a long way.

Talking to José Manuel González Framiñán guarantees anecdotes, stories and experiences that can only be lived on the roads.

But it is also a conversation that reveals a genuine and firm faith.

Framiñán is the founder of a transport company in the Spanish province of A Coruña, which currently employs 40 people, 35 of them lorry drivers.

In this interview he tells Spanish news website Protestante Digital how God has played a key role in his personal, family and working life.

From his experience, he defends honest work, patience and good treatment of employees as essential virtues for a business to prosper at all levels, not just financially.


Question. How did you start in the transport business world?

Answer. My family has always been involved in transport. At first, with oxen and cows pulling carts. But I liked mechanics, I wanted to learn how an engine works. I couldn't study as I would have liked to in the first years of my life, but that didn't limit my desire.

When I was 17 I left the village where we lived, Silleda, near to the city of Ourense. The following year I went to Germany to work as a migrant. After a few years I got a job at Frankfurt Airport, and I was able to thrive. In fact, I became head of personnel, with much responsibility and in the sector that I liked the most, which was transport.

However, at that moment something changed my course. The mother of the woman who was to become my wife died shortly afterwards, and I had to make a decision: either to stay in Germany, where I was earning good money, or to return to get married and stay here.

I decided to go back, which meant paying another price, in addition to leaving that good job. I had to do military service for 18 months.

I was 23 years old at the time and I remember that the conditions in the military service were complicated. There was one month in winter when we couldn't even take a shower!

[photo_footer] José Manuel has been in the business for over forty years. [/photo_footer] 

After that, I understood that I had to look for a job and set a course. In August 1974 we got married. Soon after, I started working in transport for a multinational company, which I still work for today.

At that time it was difficult to work in or set up a transport company, but for a month they offered me a hand. That's how I started my company, then still with a used car. It was like that until December '76, when I bought a new one, for 2 million eight hundred and eighty-two thousand pesetas [the Spanish currency then]. I will never forget that figure. At that time, with a family of two children, it was a huge responsibility. But in all that I saw the hand of God.

There is a Spanish saying that God tightens but does not drown. And God was then my first shareholder. From Silleda, through Germany, and back to Ferrol, his guidance and protection for a young man like me at that time was evident.


Q. How did you deal with a complex sector like this?

A. At that time, I started a new career and life journey. Those were the years when the aluminium factory was being set up in thenearby city of Lugo. We started transporting industrial gases for welding and assembly.

From then on, we grew and developed, taking on more orders and expanding our area of operation, reaching Portugal and covering a large part of northern Spain, up to the present day.

One thing I would like to point out is that I have never, neither before nor now, been associated with anyone. Neither with trade unions, nor with associations, nor did I group my company with others who asked me to do so.

But in all of this I have seen the hand of God, looking after us. We have had ups and downs, but we have never had serious accidents or lack of work. Nor have we had to work on Sundays or even Saturdays.

This allowed me to combine work with being with my family and being involved in the church.

[photo_footer]Some of the transport company's trucks.  [/photo_footer] 


Q. Yours is a story of perseverance, but also of growth.

A. Right now we serve four multinationals. We have 35 drivers, in total we are about forty people in the company.

Some services change, but there is always work in the sector. As we specialise in the transport of certain materials, there is not so much competition, but we also have high demands on our service. We have to be up to date with everything: taxes, payroll, all the material has to be ready.

The products we transport are sometimes dangerous. A tanker full of gas is a live bomb. That's why we have to be consistent and work well. Mistakes can be made, but it is important to comply with all the rules. This is very difficult, but it is the way to safeguard and to be able to sleep peacefully.

However, this is not something I learned in the company, because I already knew it from the Bible. I didn't discover anything new, only that when you apply what the Bible teaches, your work will be good and big companies will value it. Those clients are looking for responsive people.

Over the years, I have been very lucky to have healthy people around me. A team of "good people" is something that has come from God.

That is the dynamic in which we continue. Now my son is taking over the management of the company, I am already in the rearguard, but what I see is that it is worth to be faithful to God and to oneself.

For example, I was never sure about the option of partnering with other companies. And it was always because of a lack of transparency. We have never had any problems with the tax authorities, everything has always been declared and transparent.

Always working in compliance is the key to success. Those who trained me, those who passed the baton on to me, from the Framiñán family to those who counted on me in the job, that is what they taught me to do.

I did not have the right training to run a company. I had to train myself through courses over time, in order to be able to provide service at national and international level. But as time goes by, I look back and I can only express gratitude.

[photo_footer] The fleet of trucks. [/photo_footer] 


Q. Would you say that faith is not just theoretical?

A. The Bible is my book of conduct. There you find details that speak of the every day, of the normal. "The worker deserves his wages".

Here in Spain, bosses have always had a bad reputation, because they have earned it. If an employer makes his employee work longer hours, and doesn't pay him, he is stealing from him! The Bible teaches me: "Thou shalt not steal".

It teaches me that whoever works alongside you should be happy, and then they will perform much better. There are principles that some people ignore, putting money-making first. But I could see that putting into practice those principles that I was taught as a child, a gift that God gave me, is effective on a day-to-day basis.

I am a humble person with many shortcomings, but I have kept those principles I received, and I have seen results.


Q. In all your many years on the road, you have experienced all kinds of situations, including dangerous ones?

A. One day, arriving in Avilés, I was driving a new Scania truck. I made a mistake and instead of changing one gear I changed two, and the car lost power. Just that minute and a half that I lost, saved my life. When I got to the roundabout, there was a trailer coming in front of where I was, and it had to turn right into the area where I was coming up. But this driver pulled out of the lane. If it wasn't for that minute I lost, he would have crashed his cab into mine. We would have both crashed. I saw death so close!

I stopped and got out of the truck, and the other driver stopped too, and he said "How lucky we were!" I explained that the luck was how God had taken care of me a minute earlier because of my "mistake".


Q. In the transport industry, where you have to make long journeys, is it difficult to reconcile work and family?

A. It is difficult, but far from impossible. It's a question of principles and following the rules. There are people who put in many hours at a time, who travel further than they should or who don't prioritise being able to be at home or with their family because they want to earn a little more money. This is a serious mistake.

It is essential to organise oneself, to make a schedule that takes into account the family's wellbeing. We realised that it was possible to make transport compatible with the family.

[photo_footer] José Manuel González Framiñán [/photo_footer] 

We realised that being at home, with your family, has an immeasurable price that many bosses don't even consider. Again, it is a biblical principle that we apply and that helps us to have a discernment.

Another thing we have applied is to develop trust with employees. I learned that people work best if they are involved in deciding how to approach a problem. The "do this", "go that way", doesn't help as much as saying "we have to deal with this issue, how would you do it?

If you give the employee some responsibility, he or she becomes part of the solution. If you count on people, people respond to you. And happy people produce whatever it takes.


Q. You have also been very active in the church. Why do you think is it important to be involved in a local church?

A. Since we got married we have been involved in different areas. For six years we were running children's camps. Mary, the wife God gave me, who I've been married to for 48 years now, even when she was very young, was already teaching Sunday school in the church.

Seeing that she had such a heart to serve was a great encouragement to me. After we were married, we have fought together under the same yoke. She has been a suitable helper, very important for me. Whenever I have had problems, talking to her and praying to God has been key.

When I was young I was appointed as an elder in my church. We went through a difficult time later, when our youngest daughter died. I stopped being an elder, but I never stopped being involved in the church.

Today I have another role, as a counsellor and helping out. All the training I received as a child, and everything I was able to practice as an adult, has helped me a lot.

There are attitudes that you learn in school, but I was lucky that knowing the Scriptures and seeing what God commands about how we should live is what has been key for me. God has never let me down.


Q. What would be your final piece of advice regarding the business world?

A. In the business world you have to be honest. If you are honest, you will have no problem. You have to fulfil your obligations, to Caesar what is Caesar's, to God what is God's, and to the workers what is the workers'.

Those who fulfil their obligations have people and employees, but those who do not fulfil their obligations have no employees. You must sow in order to reap.





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