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Business Alumni Denny Tawas Prospers with Servant's Heart

Denny Tawas '22 is putting his Calvin University School of Business education into action at his multi-faceted music instrument business in Denpasar, Bali.

  • Author: Anne Gaertner
  • Published: October 13, 2022
  • Author: Anne Gaertner
  • Published: October 13, 2022

As a 2022 Calvin University School of Business graduate now back home in Denpasar, Bali, Denny Tawas, has a contagious verve. Putting his Calvin University School of Business education into action, Tawas feels blessed to see his multi-faceted music business, DeBeat Music Store, growing and thriving. The genesis of his business is just as inspiring, with a much longer history than his Calvin degree.

“I was 16 and my brother, 14, when we saw a local musical instrument store go up for sale. The business wasn’t doing too well, and the previous owner was going sell it—with all the inventory. Our dad owns a building materials business, so I had always known that’s what I wanted to do: go into business. God placed that business before me. The price was half (or less) of what it should be. My brother and I wanted to step in and implement what we had learned from my dad. We had grown up going to his shop every day after school. We would do homework, and he taught us by watching him. Without realizing it, we had been learning. We knew about sales, marketing, staff management, supply chain, dealers, and most important, how to run a business with a Christian perspective and mindset. He also taught us about giving back to the community.”

Tawas recalls putting their ambitious dream into motion. “To get the money, we went to ‘the three Fs,’ you know: family, friends, and fools, and asked them if they would loan money to us—and they did.” That was in 2016, and DeBeat Music was born.

A Journey, Ordained

The Tawas brothers’ story is amazing, yet how did that youthful pursuit lead the eldest to Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Denny Tawas laughs. “I knew I wanted to go to school in the US, to push me past my comfort zone. I googled ‘best Christian universities.’ And God pointed me to Calvin.”

As the Tawas family traveled from Indonesia to the US, Tawas admittedly pondered whether he had made the right choice. “Our whole family went, including my brother. We were flying from Bali to Chicago. For whatever reason, my brother got moved back one row. This meant a stranger was sitting next to me, also from Indonesia. We started talking and he said he was going to start a job in Chicago. When he asked where I was going, I said I was going to start school at Calvin University in Michigan. He looked at me and said, ‘That’s where I graduated from!’ so that was a cool confirmation.”

Reflecting on his academic experience at Calvin, Tawas has many takeaways. “Calvin opened my eyes to multicultural perspectives. Many students venture here from the world over. Those cultural differences are valuable. I heard confirmation of faith first, business after—and build

knowledge, build wisdom. Not only did I learn every level of my finance and economic pursuits, I felt prepared to apply them with the larger life lessons and to my career.”

Tawas does not hesitate when asked who his favorite School of Business professors were, and why they stood out. “Professor Van Drunen had a certain aura of strictness and wanted the students to learn, but he also had a sense of fun and exploration that made us want to learn more about finance. Prof. Snyder was a friend to me. He was active in the startup community and very active, helping me and my friend, Danny, and bolstered the startups’ spirits. And Professor Stansbury, who taught my ethics class! He really changed my mindset of how a business should be run, not only in Christian way, but in a more ethical way.”

Asked what that looks like in action, Tawas states, “I believe we are not only saved by Christ, but our lives are won over by Christ. Running a business is part of that life—something that is presentable to God. There should be no duality here. So, starting this business, I do not believe in luck, but I believe in God’s way of taking care of me. Since the early stages, I have always seen God at work. We are working alongside each other. Everything we have, it all comes from God. With that perspective, we are able to reach a certain level of humility, because if everything is from God, there is nothing to really glorify within ourselves, but rather, we should glorify God.”

Tawas believes both his upbringing and his Calvin University experience amplified his desire to help others. “Even though I’m a Christian businessperson, I’m the only Christian in the company. There are not many Christians where I live. So, people of other beliefs are working with me. The mandate of loving your neighbor needs to be at work here.”

A Servant Heart, Applied

An illustration of Tawas’s servant heart can be found through the story of a ten-year-old Balinese drummer. Tawas recalls, “This young boy won a major competition, receiving first place for his age group, and got a lot of notice. Within months, that attention had faded away and we felt that this wasn’t the best. We wanted to support his talent, so we invited him to come and pick out any drum kit he wanted. He was respectful of that opportunity. He didn’t pick the most expensive set, he picked what would be best for him. We encouraged him to stick with his dream. The next day, his father came and told me that he had planned to sell his motorcycle and his vehicle to support his son’s career in the music industry. That told me we did the right thing. We aren’t only working for ourselves; we are here to help our community as we show the love of Christ.”

A Future, Inspired

As his first post-graduate year nears completion, Tawas is focused on keeping his faith and knowledge at the center of DeBeat Music. His studies have equipped him to strategically

manage the pace of change. Indeed, what started as a small shop selling musical instruments is now, in his words, “so many things!” Construction is under way for the new, five story home of DeBeat Music. The flagship enterprise will increase capacity for the brand’s music school, recording and rehearsal studios, includes a parking garage and space for additional businesses.

Seeing his wildest dreams materialize, Tawas exudes his trademark calm optimism. “The difference between my college internships and now is that there, once it was 5 p.m., work was over. Nobody needed me until the next day. Now, it’s constant calls, at all hours. There are so many choices and potential consequences I have to think about: how do I scale it properly without sacrificing our close-to-the-customer model? What must be prioritized? Somebody mentioned to me that DeBeat is building a megastore. That’s not my brand image at all! We cannot lose sight of who we are as a business—a business given to me by God. My opportunity just happened to begin at age 16. For someone else it might be 25, 27, 32. Having a close relationship with God, having the opportunity to serve is the start. I was given a way to follow my passion for business and music and also for God to work through me. I had a strong sense of calling. I didn’t have the capacity to lead a business, but God led me. Calvin University prepared me. I’ve always been grateful for the support and prayers I’ve received, and I hope that will continue. I want this to be a place where God can act. It’s different for everyone, and when God wants to work, I want that to happen here.”

  • Author: Anne Gaertner
  • Published: October 13, 2022


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