Pedro Augusto Vidal, director of a Portuguese automation services company, shares his story and the principles that have driven his business.
The company founded and led by Pedro Augusto Vidal, Permarind, is located in the industrial area of the beautiful city of Aveiro, known as “the Portuguese Venice”.
This businessman started in the industrial services sector. The excellence and commitment shown to the client has allowed them to grow and expand both their services and their area of influence.
For Pedro Augusto, both Christian ethics and biblical principles have been a clear strength for his business project.
This conviction is not just fine words: at Permarind, the Bible and prayer are present in the daily life of the workers, they support several missionary and evangelistic initiatives and try to ensure that their testimony of faith has an impact on their immediate environment, for example, by promoting an interesting annual activity among the pilgrims of Fatima.
Question: Could you briefly explain the history of your company?
Answer. I founded Permarind 22 years ago, when I finished a course in electromechanics. I started working in this area and thought about the possibility of starting my own business.
My father was also in the industrial sector, my mother had another business as well, so business culture has always been part of my family.
I wanted to explore the possibility of doing something of my own, seeking to develop my own ideas. I believe that God also gave me the discernment to know how to take this step, to transform what was my own will, a dream, into a reality.
Later my wife, Carolina, also became involved in this project. She is my friend, my partner and my best advisor, and she is currently working with me.
When I say that it is a family business, it is because there are other people from my family involved, such as my younger brother Tito. We are all professionals who have been able to use our training to build this project.
At the same time, I consider Permarind to be a family because many workers are "brothers in the faith", from different churches and denominations.
Q. What kind of service does Permarind provide?
A. We supply all kinds of companies that need equipment and components for automation. We work in the area of retrofitting, troubleshooting, pneumatics and electrical training. Any type of industry, from pharmaceuticals, renewable energies, automotive, hydroelectric, porcelain, food industry... Both in local and national industry.
Q. What is your business philosophy?
A. Many times we have had the opportunity to take "shortcuts", to be more aggressive in our business strategy, but we have always chosen a different way of doing things.
We have chosen to be prudent, correct, not getting into businesses that sometimes guarantee quick money but may not be the right ones. We try to never have debts, to be up to date with payments on everything. There we always see the hand of God.
For example, we have never had to take a loan for salaries or payments, and when we have needed money, we prayed to God and some clients have advanced their payments.
We have always been self-employed, without strong capitalist partners. It has always been a little by little business construction, and we have seen that God has helped us to grow.
Every year we have grown, but not because we wanted to get richer, but because of the opportunity to open up new business opportunities. It has been a growth out of necessity. More and more people want to work with us, so that we have been growing.
It is similar to how God works with us, restoring what we are with our resources, be they many or few.
Q. To what extent do you consider that the Christian faith shapes your identity?
A. I recognise that without faith we would not have the company we have, with its business culture, the good relationship we all have with each other, the good working environment....
Furthermore, we are in a very competitive sector, where there are other companies that will do anything to win and get business. But not us, because we have principles that guide us.
We trust in God and that if we lose a client, but we have done things well, God himself will be the one who will provide us with others. In my case, I never had the official training of a degree to run a company, but I do feel empowered by the wisdom, the discernment that God gives us.
We have a daily initiative where we all get together for meetings where we pray. Every day, we write down the issues that involve the future of the company.
For example, we want to expand our facilities. And there is a person in the company who takes this as a prayer topic. We also pray every day for different things: we pray for our monthly turnover, for our customers, for our testimony, for our families, for our physical health.
[photo_footer] A van loaded with materials to help with the work on the island of Graciosa.[/photo_footer]
This is part of the corporate culture. Whenever we interview someone to work with us, we make it clear: in our company we give importance to praying together, once a week we read the Bible - we read a chapter of Proverbs and discuss it together - we have Bible calendars with verses for each day.
All this influences the way we work, because we find things in the Bible that we can immediately apply in the way we work, in the way we treat each other. Once a month we also invite a pastor who wants to come and share with us, he gives us a talk on a topic of his choice and then we usually go to lunch together.
One important thing is that the profit of the company is for the growth of the company. We are not looking to profit for profit's sake, but we are looking for a way to have a sustainable growth that is profitable for everyone.
Q. Are there practical ways in which you also apply the biblical call to help your neighbour?
A. Yes, we have an area of social action. The company works directly with a church on the island of Graciosa, in the Azores, which is Portuguese territory.
It is a poor island, without many resources. We are responding to the needs that the evangelical community there sends us. For example, we are collecting materials - clothes, shoes, school materials, and sending them to them.
It is a way of blessing their work, which also blesses us, because when this pastor comes to Portugal to visit us, we see the fruit of what is being done.
Q. Is there any other initiative you would like to highlight?
A. In May there is the pilgrimage to Fatima. On May 3rd thousands arrive and pass through Águeda. Our company is located right in front of the road that connects Porto with Lisbon, where many people pass by on foot, sometimes suffering very high temperatures during those days.
I felt in my heart that we had to do something. I spoke to my pastor and explained that I was going to carry out a simple initiative: give each pilgrim who passed by a bottle of water and a calendar with Bible verses.
The first year we only had one table, where we put the water and the calendars. And we realised that people appreciated it, they stopped to talk, to say thank you, some even told you why they were making the pilgrimage.
I know that these people are not of my faith, but that's why I think they need to know Jesus.
This initiative, which started eight years ago, has resulted in a movement that every year more volunteers, churches, and evangelical entities are joining in and supporting this act of love and mercy as an opportunity to serve and sow the Word of God.
I believe that this is something that is uniting evangelicals in Portugal and that God blesses it, because it helps to spread the Kingdom of God on this earth.
[photo_footer] Pedro Augusto and his family..[/photo_footer]
Q. With all this experience, are there any principles that you think are important to share with other managers?
A. The most important thing is the faith. We see miracles in the way we work. We pray when we are in need, and we see answers from God. In situations like the economic crisis, pandemic, and whatever circumstances may come, we seek his will.
We have seen answers in many things, for example, in the fact that we have achieved a turnover above what we had planned.
After faith, there is the Christian ethic. When we say we are Christians, it is because the principles it gives us - don't steal, don't lie, don't "kill" the competition - are what guide the way we are and the way we act.
Anyone who visits us sees the Bibles, the verses... We don't hide who we are from anyone. We honour God by following the principles found in the Bible, and we apply an ethic that comes from Christianity, not from Freemasonry or a business association, but from the Word of God.
This ethic is what makes you love your neighbour as yourself, which in business terms is the same as striving for a win-win strategy, i.e. that the customer wins and we win.
In the business world there are principles that apply just as in personal life. Lying is easy, cheating is easy, but that is why we have ethics and a healthy culture that protects us.
Of course there are challenges, enemies, difficulties because deliveries are not always difficult. But with that ethic, we trust in God who is sovereign and honours and blesses those who honour Him.
In the pandemic, for example, we managed to get through it, while other similar companies were closing down. In all this we see God at work.
Of course we are not perfect, and when we don't do things right, we apologise, but we also learn this from the Bible, from the application of its principles.
We are not better than anyone else, we are just in the marketplace to do the same as we do at home. We are not two-faced: what I am at home, I am also at work or at church.