Alumnus and CEO First Speaker in Inaugural Business Event

Business EventCal Tameling ’72, CEO of SET Environmental, answered questions about his faith and career journey at the first “Conversations on Leadership” event at Trinity on February 17. This was the first in a series of discussions sponsored by the College’s business department.

Tameling, interviewed by Professor of Business Lynn White, discussed preparing for leadership, founding a business, and giving back to the community.

Tameling graduated from Trinity in 1972 with a degree in Sociology. Although unsure of his path, his relationship with Christ remained strong throughout his studies. “My desire was to serve God in whatever way I could,” he said when asked his initial career goals. “The title of your degree doesn’t define your work for Christ.”

Through his time at Trinity, Tameling learned how to develop a well-rounded, Christ-centered way of thinking. His professors prepared him for understanding “Kingdom building” in different vocations and helped him discover his gifts and abilities. He accepted a partnership at his family business after graduating and worked there for five years before starting SET Environmental in 1979.

SET Environmental is a chemical waste disposal service, operating under a motto of “integrity, innovation, and excellence.”

What sets this company apart from others are the principles which guide all employees and activities, said Tameling. He aims to hire men and women of character and ensures the ethics of the business are clearly communicated to prospective hires. “I provide the framework for my company. We have a code of conduct which reflects my values,” said Tameling.

Tameling also experienced times of hardship throughout his career. But he explained that his failures taught him more than his successes, and he encouraged students to surround themselves with supportive Christian communities for such difficult times.


Continuing the conversations with students

The “Conversations on Leadership” series, sponsored by the Leadership Committee, is designed to inspire current students to succeed by using their gifts and implementing faith in the workplace. Many students and faculty alike walked away from the seminar with fresh ideas about Kingdom building in the fields of business and entrepreneurship.

Catherine White ’15 of Orland Park, Illinois, an accounting major with an entrepreneurship minor, aspires to become a CPA and work for an international business after graduation.

She said, “At an event like this, you have the opportunity to ask someone who is extremely successful in their career about tactics, advice, or even assistance for the future. It is a great way to network and also to gain knowledge.”

Assistant Professor of Business Kyle Harkema also attended the discussion. As a former entrepreneur, Harkema was very appreciative of Tameling’s story.

“The temptation to sacrifice your Christian standards of business conduct are tested when faced with difficult financial times in your business,” said Harkema, “that is why it is so important for the students to hear from accomplished professionals regarding how they were able to navigate these tough times without sacrificing their integrity as Christian business people.”

Jacob Tiemersma ’14 of South Holland, Illinois, helped organize Monday’s event. As part of the Leadership Committee, Tiemersma recognizes the importance of Christian leadership in business. “Work is fulfilling our call to be workers for the Kingdom of God,” he said. “We must perform our work knowing that God’s eye is always on us. We work for him, not for ourselves.”

Tameling’s interview was the first of five conversations in the “Conversations on Leadership” series.

The leadership conversations are free and open to the public. To R.S.V.P, contact Dennis Harms at 708.293.4819 or

Upcoming Conversations on Leadership

  • Monday, March 31, 10 a.m., Fireside Room – Karen Bushy, former trustee and president of the Village of Oak Brook and CEO, Memories & Beyond, will be interviewed by Professor Todd Barre
  • Monday, April 14, 10 a.m., Fireside Room – John Venhuizen, CEO, ACE Hardware, will be interviewed by President Steve Timmermans
  • Monday, May 5, 10 a.m., CL215 – Jack Van Namen, Director of Sales, KBC Direct Floral Programs, will be interviewed by Professor Rick Hamilton