Excerpted from The Good Book on Business by Dave Kahle
Tom Sudyk’s story is another example of the unlimited ways that the Lord works in our lives to shape us and bring about the situations he wants.
EC group is composed of two business entities: a US operation with about five employees, and a wholly-owned subsidiary in India with approximately 80 employees. The company provides software developers in India who work directly for its US clients.
Following a number of years in law enforcement, Tom built and then sold, a string of physical therapy clinics. In 1999, a couple of years after selling the business, he was looking around for another business to start.
Looking back at this stage of his life, Tom reflects that he was a ‘cultural Christian.’ He went to church, taught Sunday school, and considered business to be one thing and ‘church’ something else. Money was the point at which the two intersected, and Tom, the business person, did his Christian duty by writing a check.
At this point, the Lord intervened in a dramatic way. Tom was sitting alone in his den when he heard an audible voice tell him “Go to India with Don.” Don was Don Chapman, director of Mission to India, a missionary organization. Don was an acquaintance – both men had kids on the same sports team.
One thing led to another, and Tom found himself in India, visiting ten cities and ten days. Impressed with the reach of the mission organization, and the tremendous opportunities he recognized in the developing nation, Tom decided to start a business in India. His motivation was two-fold. He needed to have a business for personal and financial reasons, and he wanted to assist in the mission work. “It was easier to get money into the country through the business channel than by donations.” He decided to “create an openly Christian company that blessed the people of India in culturally relevant ways.”
A client who needed medical transcription services appeared, as did a solid Christian lady who could run interference in India to create the business. Eventually, a business in India was created doing medical transcription for clients in the US
At the time, the idea of an “openly Christian company that blessed the people” was a radical idea. Tom found himself as the spokesperson for a movement. He recognized that most of the people of his generation had the paradigm that the highest use of a business was to give money to Christian causes and that there was a divide between the sacred (church stuff) and secular (business). If the notion of a Kingdom business existed at all, it was defined as one in which the business was really a mask for the evangelical work that was its true purpose. The idea that a business could be ‘openly Christian’ and profitable was not in the conversation.
He decided to invest in the younger generation and created internships in ‘business as mission’ with a number of colleges. That led to an annual CEO conference which he organized and presented for a number of years.
The business was evolving. The medical transcription business was growing more complex, and the need for software developers emerged. Gradually, the company made the transition from one to the other and evolved a model whereby the India developers work directly for their state-side employers, under the banner of EC Group.
What started out as a business has evolved into a family business in the mold of the Biblical household. One of Tom’s interns stuck with the company and spent ten years helping to develop the business and the concepts which empower it. He has moved on, but still has influence on the company, and is thought of “almost an adopted son.”
Tom’s wife, Linda, joined the company to oversee the bookkeeping. And his son, Mike, is being groomed to take a senior role. All of the Sudyk kids and spouses have been to India, and Tom recently arranged for Mike’s wife to visit, so that she would have a clear understanding of the ‘family business.’
At the same time, the India company continues to define what it means to be an “openly Christian company which blesses the people.”
“We want to treat everyone with compassion,” Tom says. At the time of this interview, he has just received an email notifying him of the death in an auto accident of the wife of one of his Indian employees. He had composed an email to the employee, and both the COO and CFO of the Indian operation were planning to visit to visit the family and spent time with them. Tom had already notified the client involved and has allowed the grieving husband to take several weeks off to deal with the tragedy.
“It is times like these when your Christian witness becomes most valuable.”
The company has a ten minute prayer time every day at 4 PM and a company-sponsored Bible study every two weeks – both of which are optional for the employees. It impacts the community with charitable events in which the employees engage.
For example, Little Hearts is an organization that served the mentally and physically disabled. EC sends teams of people to spend time with the folks who are served by that organization. In addition, the company supports a school for slum children, and actively looks for opportunities to spread their compassion and witness for Christ.
Looking ahead, Tom sees his role evolving to focusing more on mentoring the next generation of leaders, and inspiring others to embrace the vision.