It isn’t every day that companies are honored with the presence of ambassadors and delegates – at least not operations of our size – but that was the distinguishing case for our AFB production facility, here in the Netherlands. We recently received a delegation from the US Embassy, including the highest representative of the US government in the Netherlands, Chargé d’Affaires Mr. Shawn Crowley. We were very honored to be a company of interest for the Embassy and ‘The Charge’, as Mr. Shawn Crowley is referred to by his co-workers. It is nice to see that they are seeking to connect more with small and mid-sized companies to signal that we are important to them too.
Upon being contacted about a potential visit, we couldn’t help but ask “Why us?” What made AFB stand out amongst small and mid-sized companies? We were met with a flattering answer in that although our AFB Netherland operation is small in scale, we are a very influential player in the pet food industry. With compliments like that, how could we turn down the visit?
Accompanying the Charge on his visit was Embassy Economic Unit Chief Thomas Coleman, Embassy Public Affairs Representative Sherry Keneson-Hall, and Commercial Specialist of the US Department of Commerce Alec Boydston. To say the least, having so many distinguished titles in the room made our heads swell just a little. The Embassy envoy also came with quite the security detail, which was a new experience for most of us at AFB. The Dutch Security Service had to come and inspect our facility before the people from the US Embassy could come visit. Needless to say, their visit wasn’t quite as sociable as the actual visit of the Embassy-delegation.
The Charge and his envoy did a wonderful job making us feel at ease and important, and for many reasons. The Charge and his staff were very personable, courteous and curious. Mr. Crowley often introduced himself as “Shawn,” which was quite refreshing. He also took a genuine interest in our operation and our employees while touring our facility, frequently asking questions and conversing with our employees on a personal level.
After the visit, the Charge sent us a very nice letter (included below) to thank us for our time and commending us on our exemplary facility. We look forward to working more closely with the Embassy in the future to strength the Netherlands-USA relationship.