Roel Harsta is the chief executive officer and founder of Global Process Automation. GPA offers a full range of engineering services from complete project management to system maintenance. From a very early age, he envisioned his own version of success in a society where upward mobility is a possibility with a free-enterprise system. He is one of many who has pursued the American Dream.
Roel Harsta grew up in the Netherlands, where he graduated as an electrical engineer. Immediately after college, he joined an engineering firm that introduced him to the world of automation. At 22, Roel started his first business, a company called Stork Friesland, a manufacturing company of spray dryers and evaporators for the dairy industry.
During his travels all over the world, Roel gained an interest in entrepreneurship. Roel explains, “I traveled around the world installing and starting up these installations for different companies. While working on a project in Litchfield, Minnesota I began to see the advantages of the laws and regulations in the United States. It was during the Reagan presidency; I was amazed to learn of the favorable tax situation in the U.S. But the most fascinating thing was how one could go to city hall and pay $15 to start their own business! This was unheard of in Europe”. He explains, “In Europe, one needs to be trained by the government in a lengthy program to understand the business you would like to start.” In contrast to the complicated laws, high tax rates, and challenging labor laws of Europe, Roel was finding America to be the perfect climate for business.
He continues, “This is also the time GE/GM, a big American company, hired 90,000 employees. I simply could not believe that people would take a corporate job when you could purchase a business license for $15! As an outsider looking in, I was dumbfounded about how easy it was to start your own business and why in the world you would not pursue that opportunity”.
Roel worked on automation projects for DuPont in Canada for 6 years before receiving a green card to the United States. Once he was a legal resident, he added to his extensive and impressive employment history, including; Pfizer and Bailey Controls. When he obtained the knowledge he needed he embarked on his very own American Dream and started Global Process Automation.
2017 marks the 21st year in business for Global Process Automation. Marking this anniversary Roel reflects, “I often remember the 23 years I spent in Holland and the excellent education I received, but living in a western European environment where government is overbearing and taxes are very high, there is no comparison with the business freedom and opportunities presented in the USA”.